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Star Wars Effects! Lightsabers and Force Lightning!

Use Adobe After effects to create professional special effects as seen in the Star Wars Films!
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5 students enrolled
Created by Robert Turrell
Last updated 2/2016
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  • 42 mins on-demand video
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In this class we will be discussing how to use Adobe After Effects to create special effects like those you have seen in the Star Wars film. This might be seem like a daunting task, but if you have the adobe creative cloud package and some patience and can imitate what I show you in the videos it should be fairly simple to create the effect. Seeing myself holding a lightsaber like what I saw in the films was always sort of childhood fantasy for me and now I can actually get pretty close to what we see in movies.

By watching these videos you will understand how After Effects uses masks, built in effects and colors, along with the process of adjusting videos frame by frame. For me as I was learning these things I started to understand the process of after effects and how the same tools are used for different visual effects. Once I created a simple 3 second video of a lightsaber I was motivated and stimulated to keep making different movies with these effects. My goal is that this information is digestable and you can begin to see the potential of the program combined with your own vision and creativity.

Who is the target audience?
  • Those interested in DIY special fx for fun home movies
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What Will I Learn?
Create professional lightsabers and force lightning
View Curriculum
  • A basic knowledge of how to access video files from folders on your computer
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 5 Lectures Collapse All 5 Lectures 42:02
Start Here
5 Lectures 42:02

The assignment for this class is to make a video of someone holding and swinging a lightsaber and/or shooting lightning out of thier hands including sound effects.

In this Introduction I will introduce myself and show you the project I created with the help of my young padawan and nephew Teddy. We will then jump right in to Adobe After Effects and start making light sabers. Adobe After Effects can be a very intimidating program. I am by no means a master of it, I am still learning everytime I use it. For me it is sort of like playing music...once you learn the basics, the possibilities are endless for what you can create! Seeing myself holding a lightsaber like what I saw in the films was always sort of childhood fantasy for me and now I can actually get pretty close to what we see in movies. Give it a try!

We start off by opening the After Effects program and importing the movie. From there we make a simple mask and then animate our footage frame by frame. This frame by frame method is exactly how the original effects maker Nelson Shin made the light saber come alive in the original movies. For your project if you have never used 'Adobe After Effects' before I would reccommend that you start with a clip only 3 or 4 seconds long.

Preview 05:19

In this video I will show you how to animate the mask you created to become the light saber. We will then go into how to make it look glowing and make it whatever color you want!

Preview 09:59

In this video we will go over the effect of Force lightning created in 'Return of the Jedi.' It is a tad more complex than the light saber effect but if you make it through creating a light saber and making it move then I know you will be able to create the lightning. I first did this my second year in film school and it was one of the coolest things to create and share it with my friends and professors.

Force Lightning!

In this video I will go over some basic tips on adding the sound effects using Editing software. The links to the sound effects are down below and you can download them for free. For this class I will be using Adobe Premiere but the principals I am showing you apply to any editing software so feel free to use what ever you want to add the sound to your movie. Adding the sound to your short clip is really what makes the difference in wowing people that you show the movie to.

Sound Effect Clips

Lightsaber Hum

Lightsaber Sound Pack 1

Lightsaber Sound Pack 2

Force Lightning sound effects 1

Force Lightning sound effects 2

Sound Effects

In this lecture I will go over how to make the lightning or saber appear behind an object in the original video. This is a pretty simple process of creating a make and making the blend mode on the mask to 'subtract' doing this will greatly increase the realism of the effect in relation to the movement in your video. If you have followed the class up to this point you should have the basic understanding of animating a mask frame by frame. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Subtractive Masks with Lightning, Making lightning or saber appear behind object
About the Instructor
4.0 Average rating
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11 Students
2 Courses
Professional Guitarist and Film/Digital Media Editor

Rob Turrell is an award winning guitarist, singer, and songwriter from southern California who has been playing professionally for 21 years.

In 2012 Rob was awarded the ‘Sunlight of the Spirit Award’ for an original composition he wrote from ASCAP president Paul Williams in New York and shared the stage with Jason Mraz for the ceremony.

In 2014 he was the winner of ‘BLK Burgrz Annual Guitar Riff Off Jam’ among a field of 50 other guitarists.

In 1998 he recorded original music in Nashville, TN with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox from The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Rob’s guitar style is a powerful blend of Rock and Blues that has garnered attention from music enthusiasts across the country and he writes and performs for his own original band “Lime Street” based in Southern California. He has recorded and performed with members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Sublime, Paul Williams, Jimmy Webb, and many others.

In addition to a role as Pete Townshend in two different tribute bands to ‘The Who’, Rob has launched an exciting new band paying tribute to the guitar heroes Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix.

I am a 2015 graduate with honors from California State University Long Beach with my Bachelors Degree in Film and Electronic Arts specializing in the realm of postproduction. I have also studied aspects of cinematography, writing, theory, directing and audio. Most recently I just finished a 30 second commercial that appeared on KTLA. I have edited several individual projects and have done editing and graphics on some music videos produced in Hollywood. My websites are and

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