How to make a lightsaber and X-wing scene in After Effects

Published:
Updated:

Some of the names on this page are registered trademarks of Lucasfilm (Disney), of which I’m in no way affiliated. They are used here under Fair Use for educational purposes.

You can’t claim to be a filmmaker if you haven’t tried to make a scene with a lightsaber at some point!

The lightsaber has become such a cultural icon since it was first shown on the big screen in 1977, and many filmmakers have tried to duplicate the effect through the years.

Watch the video for the tutorial.

I’m no different! And I’m lucky because it has become so easy to do these days, thanks to Adobe After Effects and an awesome plugin called SABER from Video CoPilot.

What you need

To create a similar scene to the one above, you need a few prerequisites:

Camera

You need a camera. Your phone can do the trick, but I recommend using a video camera if you need better-quality codecs and want to tweak your footage in post-production.

I brought out my GH5S with the Sigma 18-35mm lens to shoot the scene. I chose this combination for this tutorial because I wanted a real handheld camcorder feeling to help sell the illusion. Since neither the camera nor the lens has any stabilization, it was easy to create this feeling.

A lightsaber – or a stick

I bought this cheap plastic lightsaber with a blue plastic blade that was easy to see. Of course, you can get much more luxurious and expensive ones, but this was a quick, fun test, so I didn’t want to go overboard on Jedi merchandise.

In reality, any stick will do the trick.

Software and plug-ins

First of all, you need Adobe After Effects. Besides this, you need:

Free SABER plug-in: https://www.videocopilot.net/blog/2016/03/new-plug-in-saber-now-available-100-free/

Free Star Wars Model Pack: https://www.videocopilot.net/blog/2016/05/free-star-wars-model-pack/

Element 3D: https://www.videocopilot.net/products/element2/

Fonts:

Star Wars logo font: http://www.dafont.com/star-jedi.font

Intro font (blue text and crawler): http://www.dafont.com/roboto.font

Sound Effects:

https://audiojungle.net/item/airplane-turbines-exterior-ambience/10905946?_ga=2.12988471.1418318123.1559123103-704795008.1559123103

https://audiojungle.net/item/spaceship-takoff/10145575?_ga=2.12988471.1418318123.1559123103-704795008.1559123103

https://audiojungle.net/item/laser-sword/7815717?_ga=2.12988471.1418318123.1559123103-704795008.1559123103

https://audiojungle.net/item/jet-turbines-are-gaining-momentum/411931?_ga=2.12988471.1418318123.1559123103-704795008.1559123103

Time

The video shooting took 5 minutes, and I spent two nights animating the lightsaber and X-wing. And I’ve broken down the process in the video above.

I decided to make the video square to share on FB or Instagram.

As I said in the video, I promised to put a link to the plug-ins, fonts, and sound effects I’ve used in the film. So here they are:

Closing thoughts

I always think it’s fun to recreate and get inspired by movie visual effects. I learn so much each time. You don’t have to recreate a scene to perfection – it’s just as beneficial to extract elements and see if you can tweak them and bring them to life.

I hope you find it useful. Please share a link to any of your own SW fan films in the comment section below.

Up Next: The meaning of the different lightsaber colors here.

Author

    by
  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

    View all posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.