Lightsaber Track

Can I track a lightsaber in mocha or hitfilm? Or is there an other way except this:     ?
I've got Hitfilm Ultimate


  • Robin
    Robin Posts: 1,659 Enthusiast
    No, there is not really another way. You can get acceptable results if the lightsaber is not moving fast and you shot at a high shutter speed, but otherwise the natural blur of a fast moving blade will make it nearly impossible to accurately track it. In this case, you'll always get the best results by manually rotoscopoing the blade (i.e. matching a mask to the blade frame by frame).
  • What about painting the stick or lightsaber blade with a bright florescent color or reflective tape? Wouldn't that make the area to track much more visible?
  • Robin
    Robin Posts: 1,659 Enthusiast
    edited May 2013
    It would make it more visible and was also used for the star wars movies, at least the last two. But while it makes the rotoscoping easier, the blur is still there and would give hitfilm and mocha major trouble tracking. You might get away with keying if you make the blade green or another keyable color, but don't count on that, the results will heavily vary.
  • Mandalorian
    Mandalorian Posts: 76 Just Starting Out*
    Manual rotoscoping is the best and most reliable method for doing lightsabers.  While there have been attempts to do these with 2 point shapes, the manual 4-6 point shapes turn out the most accurate results, and tracking is pretty much useless on such fast moving objects that dramatically change shape on almost every frame.  In all honesty, learning to properly roto lightsabers will help you become more effective at the art of rotoscoping.  It will help you understand better point flow, positioning of points, accurate guestimation when it's blurred and so on.
      Since rotoscoping is something that you'll almost always need for effects, it's a great skill to acquire, and lightsabers might just be the best starting point IMO.  Having those skills is also a great way to break into the vfx industry, just so ya know.  ;)
  • If you were to, in theory, track the lightsaber...
    would you use a one point or two point tracker?
    Which would be the better choice? 

    I would recommend getting a neon green or bright red sticker and place it on the lightsaber.
    Having such a point on the object you're tracking might help Hitfilm track it better. 
    And then just manually rotoscope the tracking point when the object (in this case the lightsaber), gets blurry. 
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,299 Power User
    In theory, a two-point tracker. In practices, usually you'll end up doing manual roto, anyway. Tracking can work for shots where there isn't much movement, but, as soon as you start swinging that sucker around, point tracking it mostly useless.
    You COULD turn you camera up to a high shutter speed (like 1/500) to "Freeze" the motion to be able to track the blade, but then you're getting a super crisp image that looks terrible with lightsabers.
    There's another discussion of lightsabers from a couple of days ago in this thread: That you should check out.
  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,255 Staff
    Point tracking isn't usually viable for lightsabers, because the shape of the blade changes every frame when they are moving.  They aren't a line from one point to another; they need at least four points to define the shape (the corners), but even that isn't sufficient since at least one side is often curved.
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,299 Power User
    Yeah, again (mostly) agreeing with Axel (Although you probably could use four points to define the blade, but that's a lot of tanget adjustments. Five is better.)
    Now, if it's a shot where the lightsaber is basically just being held, but no swung so quickly that it's blurring in-frame, yeah, you could do a two-point track and Hitfilm's lightning generator could make the blade, but, as soon as you get to fast motion, you're back to roto work.
    Every once in awhile a thread topic comes up about avoiding lightsaber roto--I think the final word comes down to this: Even LUCASFILM/ILM still manually rotos lightsabers. If there were a procedural shortcut, ILM would have it already.