Creating ‘Light-Saber’ effects on Adobe After Effects

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Here is a piece I edited on Adobe After Effects, to practise creating light saber effects. Initially I thought that the best method would be to motion track the swords/weapons or whatever is being used as a prop, and then in theory the glow would follow the prop in the video. However, after researching the practicalities of this method, Idiscovered that it would be easier to use layer masks and the pen tool to create a path, as motion tracking has major disadvantages, because it only really works when the item you are tracking remains the same size and doesn’t blur, which obviously for a weapon being waved around is going to be an issue, and hard to get around.

The method I used involved using the pen tool, and creating a path around the weapon at every frame. I keyframed these changes so that the path would follow the outline of the weapon, increasing in size when the weapon blurred to match the light effects that would be displayed if it were really happening. I then pre-composed this layer, and duplicated it four times on top of a solid black layer. Each duplicate was feathered, and each one doubled the value of the feathering, which gave the glowing effect. Finally, I screened the composition onto my original video composition, which revealed only the effect, before editing the colour balancing so that the swords were different colours.


Leaflet Research

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To begin my research, I had a look on Google images to find some examples of leaflet design.

This leaflet for the Tenby Arts Festival was the first I found. This leaflet has all of the expected pieces of information displayed on it. It has the name of the event, the dates, a central picture depicting the theme of the event, some contact information, and the logo of one of the companies sponsoring the event. Inside there was a timetable of events going on around the festival, providing the reader with a concise list of things to do and when to do them. I was a bit disappointed at the design of the programme, as I believe they use far too many colours that just don’t go well together just for the sake if it.

I then looked at this front cover for 2012 Townley Christmas. I liked this because I thought that they’d used imagery well to attract the audience rather than throw all of the main information onto the front of the programme. This wold encourage the reader to pick up the leaflet, and want to know what was inside it.

This was the first Dickensian style leaflet that I looked at. I wanted to aim my research towards this theme since it would prove incredibly helpful in tackling this brief. I liked the imagery around the title, and I think this a theme that we will bring into our initial designs. I also like the use of typography in the title, however I think that we could probably find a better, more appropriate font-type for our own designs. I also like the use of an image for the background instead of using a block colour.

I especially liked the calligraphy style title in this piece. Although this is just a poster, it encapsulates the Dickensian theme to a tee, without going over the top. It conveys the purpose of the event, the location and contact details for obtaining additional information. The writing paper style background is another feature of this poster that I find enjoyable, as it attempts to make the poster seem older than it is, setting it back to a time when Dickens was around.

This was my favourite leaflet out of all of the ones I found. It has everything that you could possibly need from a leaflet of this nature. My favourite part of this leaflet is the imagery on the front cover. When we discussed what sort of things we wanted to include in our leaflet before we had conducted any research or drawn any ideas out, one of the prominent ideas was to have a picture of Charles Dickens on the front. I also liked the type-face used in this leaflet, as it fits the Dickensian theme well and compliments the front cover design.

Dickens House

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Went to the Dickens House exhibition with Rachel and Tom today, to do a bit of research for our brief. We have emailed the curator of the museum for more information into what they would like to see in our design work, but are still awaiting a response.

Her husband gave us a tour of the house, and gave us an account of the life of Charles Dickens, and we were suitably impressed with the vast collection of trinkets, and Charles Dickens works that were on display. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs, except of the outside of the house, but hopefully when we hear from the curator we may be able to acquire some images that we could potentially use in our final piece, or at least some suggestions on where to source some copyright free material.

We all found the museum fascinating, and I was surprised that there were not more people in there, but this was probably because of the weather!

We are definitely planning to go again, hopefully next time with our full group.


Dickens House

Dickens House

Gutenberg Economics and Gatekeepers

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There are lots of printers but not many good publishers

The role of the editor becomes very important in terms of assurance of quality

The process of mass-media controlled by gatekeepers has been described as Gutenberg Economics – a commercial model that underpins mass-media from Gutenberg onwards, allowing the ruling classes to impose control over the media.

Kurt Lewis was the first to use the term ‘gatekeeper’ in this context


  • Audience – Information
  • Gatekeeper – Money
  • Creative – Ability to get their work out there
  • Status quo – Change peoples opinions


  • Audience – Misinterpretation, ‘spoon-fed’
  • Gatekeeper – Pressure
  • Creative – Competition
  • Status quo – CAN mess it up

Gutenberg economics have dictated media production for over 500 years. A select few voices have been communicated to the audience, and only now is this starting to change. Like the printing press in Gutenberg’s time, the internet in our time is still a fairly new invention, and there is no way to accurately predict the effect the internet will have on the world in years to come, although there are statistics and trends such as the increase in online shopping and other online services, and the decay of high street shopping that could be linked. However this could be for economic or social reasons that have nothing to do with the web. User generated content allows many to speak to many on a free basis which could compromise Gutenberg Economics.


Research 26/10/12

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I have decided to make a website to display my work as a web developer, to show prospective clients and employers and help me in my third year of University.

Firstly, I found a website that explained the best ways of creating a portfolio website. I am in now way going to folow this method, but I will certainly use one or two aspects of it to help me along my way, as well as taking on board hints and tips.


Here are some examples of websites that I can use to draw inspiration for my own project.

I like the way that the designer has incorporated his own flair and creativity into the home page, and continued this throughout the entire website. Their work has been displayed on this page in a format that takes advantage of javascript animation to show the user that they have an apt understanding of their subject area. This is something that I want to imitate in my own portfolio, showcasing all of the different skill sets that I have.

Here is an example of a website that I do not want to imitate. Although the interactivity/animation is pretty well coordinated, and works pretty well, this website to me seems more like one big blog. I already have a facebook account, and a blog, so creating something to this effect would seemingly be pointless. I want an opportunity to properly showcase my own work, and get it out into the public domain.

This website is a good example of what I want to achieve by the end of this project. I am not particularly keen on the specific design methods that they have used, but the format and functi0nality are pretty much what I am after. I like the way that they have separated every aspect of their design agency into separate pages. However I don’t like that each page is incredibly messy in terms of clutter (in my own opinion), but at the end of the day this is not what mine will look like.

Although foreign, and I can only guess a few words on this website, I really enjoyed the animation used to introduce this website. I’m fairly confident in Adobe Flash as I created a multimedia solution in my second year at sixth form. However I wasn’t completely confident with my use of actionscript, so to create an entire website based on an animation created in flash to me seems a bit too much of a task. I have a clearer understanding of HTML and CSS, so it would probably be a good idea to stick to what I know, although i’m not ruling out the possibility of incorporating a small amount of flash animation to extend my skill set.

So far, this is my favourite of all the portfolio websites I have looked at so far. It is simple, effective, humourous, showing a variety of web development techniques. The only critiscism I have is a distinct lack of colour. Although I still find the design of the website visually powerful and to the point.

Planned shots

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Here is a rough plan of the shots I want to do for my visual effects piece. This is based on the final idea, and flows accordingly. I have included all of the text that I am going to add to the sequence to contextualize my piece as a film trailer, rather than a fight scene. I will design the format for these during the next couple of weeks, as well as constructing a storyboard, so that I can properly portray my ideas on paper, as well as having something to send to my prospective actors in addition to an action based script.

OPENING: “Coming Soon”
Shot 1: MAN in a room, sitting in a chair by a table, wearing a suit and sunglasses.
Shot 2: From behind MAN, shot of a door as MAN2 walks in, also wearing a suit and sunglasses.
Shot 3: MAN2 enters the room
Shot 4: MAN gets up from his seat
Shot 5: MAN takes off his sunglasses (reveals red eyes)
Shot 6: MAN2 takes off his sunglasses too, revealing blue/green eyes
Shot 7: MAN reaches for weapon in his pocket
Shot 8: MAN2 forces MAN back into his seat
Shot 9: MAN gets up and runs onto table, weapon in hand
Shot 10: MAN2 runs onto the table, weapon in hand
Shot 11-15: 5-10 second fight scene using light-swords
“Fall 2014”
Shot 16: Man1/2 laying face down on the table, weapon next to him. Man1/2 leaves room in the background – depth of field focal shot
For the final shot, I was thinking of using slow motion to emphasise the impact of the weapon hitting the table. I also wanted to use this technique for just before the fight sequence begins, until the point where the two weapons collide.

Notes from Week 4 Lecture

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Leaving shooting until we break up for xmas?
     – make sure everything is planned, scripted, choreographed, researched, practised
     – research and practise will help speed up the effects creation, as the hard part (learning how to make them) will be done
     – leave AT LEAST a week to render: Jan 9th-16th minimum

Steering away from Star Wars
     – not a copy, done to death by thousands (Star wars kid etc)
     – NO Jedi.
     – Thinking of using suits, which unlocks several potential locations/costumes/themes
               – dinner with a friend
               – meeting with a colleague/client
               – office situation
     – research how to add backgrounds effectively using chroma key screens (greenscreen)

Green Screen (chroma key)/props
     – book uni room or buy fabric and book out lighting etc.
     – possibly buy additional fabric if using the uni room
               – felt, non-glossy
     – possibility of using different/modded weapons

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