How do i create better lightning?

CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
Hello, i recently downloaded a trial of AE which i though had a nice circle lightning effect. I wanted to make some stock footage for hit film.  However i found it was not as good as i remembered.  However apon running a simple simulation with almost no toggling i created this effect.  I found it cool because of these features
The jumping from different points 
Streaks that were attached to the center
Cool movements
faster action
https://www.dropbox.com/s/iu77o03yp0309yf/Comp%201.mp4
Then i created a rotating point in hit film and found a 
slow
unlively
weird streaks from center
branches mostly inanimate 
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g0qym2hz8f7qiow/lightning.mov
(i had to lower quality due to hit film crashing apon other settings)
Anyone have any tips for me?

Comments

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    edited December 2013
    Sorry, know I said the other day I'd take a crack at some plasma, but I've been slammed---anyway:
    I made this in Hitfilm in about 2 minutes--this is closer to the AE render you did--is this more what you're looking for?
    What I did:
    I created 2 3D points. "Start" and "End" and parented the start and end positions of the lightning to the relevant points.
    I tuned my look until I had a basic bolt I kind of liked. Specifically, in the "ANIMATION" group, I turned up Jitter and Speed.
    I keyframed my "END" point--moving it around the screen in X, Y and Z axes. I CTRL+Clicked (I think that's OPTION+Click for you Mac folks) to select all the END point keyframes, right clicked and set the interpolation to CONSTANT. This way, instead of the end point moving around smoothly, it jumps.
    Other things to try:
    Keyframe attributes like seed or number of trunks. Anything that adds more motion...
    Maybe a JITTER effect after the lightning?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SwQGPdc_QU

    *EDIT* (One Hour Later)
    Also built a quick 3D 3D plasma sphere using the three different composite shots containing a single animated lightning bolt as animated texture sources. A simple 3D floor grid is added to show the (Overkinetic) camera move.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KTBZ0bUEV4
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    WOW YOUR AMASING! Thanks!
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    OK i made 5 composite shots with their own movement patterns.  Also i put reframes in other sections!  Thankyou so much for telling me about the linear keyframe thing! that will be quite useful!
    However i am unable to understand this animated texture scorch thing.  can you explain how i might do it?
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    Also i made a camera rig that goes around the future orb in a circle.  However the camera moves the way i want but does not point at the center!  Is their any way to make it always look at the center?
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    AH HAH i found out how to keep the camera pointing at the center dot! Instead of parenting it to a satellite i had it become the satellite!  Now to figure out this animated texture thing...
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    In the appearance tab, under where you selected the composite shot as the layer are other controls. Twirl them open and set layer type to animated. From there you can set start and end frames for the animation layer. Also, you can set the start frame to Random to add more variety to the motion (but that will REALLY slow things down, so do that near-last)
    Also, the test I did used 250x800 pixel textures with the bolts running from the bottom of the screen all the way to the top. This meant my bolts were extending to both sides of the plasma sphere, and also not looking like it was coming from a central point. The lens flare was to hide that. If I were to take my texture comps and move the start of my lightning to the center (so the lightning went center to top, leaving the bottom blank) it would fix that.
    My test used a point emitter with random trajectories, Particle speed of zero, Particle systems set to align to motion. There were seperate particle systems for each texture source. Emitters were set between 2 to 4 particles per second, life about 2 to three seconds, with a little movement variation to life and scale.
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    Ok, so i created a particle system that has no movement and spawns 3 per second and starts emitting 1 second before and then stops.  Then i used an animated texture scorce and had it be animated.  I then turned up the rotation variation for the particle system and clicked the align to motion box.  Then i copied the emitter and renamed them each then changed each emitter to its respective layer.  Because the composite shots were all based of of a satellite just being childed but the center being keyframes to rotate they fit together nicely.  This created a really weird effect that looks like bunch of interesting planes.  I though i might fix that by adding glow later on.  However apon removing glow from the lightning and adding it in the final comp i was unable to get the same lighting glow effect (i thought a glow might round the edges).   I feel i have some things that need to be finished before the effect is done. 
    1.  3d glass globe or similar effect around it
    2.  Light flare in the middle of it all
    3.  lightning looks less like planes (another issue is that the planes point position themselves at weird positions and that makes the ball have large empty areas)
    4. Everything aligned under one 3d camera
    Needless to say i am quite lost.  I was unable to follow most of your first paragraph.  Is it possible i could see your project file to see how you did the nice filled lightning ball effect?  Anyway heres mine.  You should be able to see it because most of the media is generated in hit film.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/wpvd1e57z6mv674/lg.hfp
    Thankyou for helping me out!  This has been much beneficial! Ive learned zoo much!  Unfortunately i can't show you anything because export is crashing constantly.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    http://youtu.be/PBo141Jb6hI

    Yup i plan to create a less moving and solid object.  I really like that effect!

  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    Ok now here are my priorities.
    1.  3d glass globe or similar effect around it
    2.  Light flare in the middle of it all
    3.  lightning looks less like planes (another issue is that the planes point position themselves at weird positions and that makes the ball have large empty areas)
    And here is my progress all rendered thanks to Axel!
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/11ra029l126e2ul/3d%20lightning%20ball.mp4
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    Are you using a Particle Simulator to create the lightning?  It looks like you have particles there that are aligned to motion, which is going to create flat planes at odd angles as they move around.  I would highly recommend looking into the Lightning effect, which is specifically designed for the type of thing you are aiming for.  Try this preset as an example.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    edited January 2014
    Axel, he's building off a test I did using lightning to generate animated textures for a particle sim. Since he's going for a 3D plasma sphere I thought that would be easier and faster than creating a huge array of animated 3D points and linking tens of instances of lightning to the points.
    Caleb, the particle sim will tend to flatten a bit as textures rotate... I got better results leaving the glow on texture layers and adding glow over the particle sim. Best results might come from using a particle sim combined with a few hero layers of pure generated lightning.
    Caleb, take a look in the trajectory controls for the emitter. There's a "Target" mode which lets you set a point particles "aim" at. Target the center of your globe and all particle filaments will line up with the center of the globe at least.
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    Triem23 - you wouldn't need tens of instances, just one, like in the preset I linked.  Just increase the number of trunks as high as you need.  I didn't even bother using any 3D points, as you get the 3D look without them, but if you did need it to be 3D, if the camera is moving for example, then two 3D points would do it - one for the start and one for the end.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    Sweet. Next time I get on my comp I will look at that preset..
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    Lols! This post whent from making better lightning to making a lightning sphere! Funny!
    @Axel Wilkinson Where did you get that preset? Is their a vault of presets I'm missing? I really love presets!
    Soo i used the preset keyframes values and added a bunch of other stylistic elements and got this.  
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/g2eyh0lkm8ogxp7/Lightning%20Ball.mp4
    Then i added Majar's orb thingy to the center.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/97nxd8bw1vuxm7h/sphere.mp4
    The ball only looks 3d if you are focusing also on the 3d hand.  When i added the orb ball it turns your focus on the ball and it looks more like a 2d ball over a hand.  
    As for the preset ball i need to 
    1. Make the ball look more 3d regardless
    2.  Make the center flare (how do i make a center flare)
    3.  Make flickering (i really tried making a flicker on the light on the hand but it looked horrible any tips)
    However I still am pursuing Triem's idea because it produces a much more 3d ball.  
    Id love some feedback on the effect.  Also i have lots of questions on this thread here.  Can anyone help? It should take 2 mins max.
    http://community.hitfilm.com/index.php?/topic/4574-shield-effects/
  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    I just made the effect real quick and exported the preset, it isn't available anywhere else.
    Also, if you parent that preset I created to two 3D points, and rotate the points, the effect will very much look 3D.
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    I just made the effect real quick and exported the preset, it isn't available anywhere else.
    Also, if you parent that preset I created to two 3D points, and rotate the points, the effect will very much look 3D.

    How does one parent to two points?

  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    edited January 2014
    In the Start controls, select the point you want for the Start.  In the End controls, select the point you want to use for the End.  Then move the points around to control the position of the start and end in 3D.  Its the same basic technique used to simulate 3D in Extrusion, Atomic Particle, etc.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    Incidentally, for a lightning sphere where you have a bunch of mostly straight filaments emerging from a point, as I brought up above, you could make a center point, an array of outer points and link much lightning between center and outer points(Axel, you said it wouldn't require multiple instances, which is true for circle lightning, but, again, I am thinking more of a plasma GLOBE than a plasma PLATE.). Axel talked about where the controls are for parenting the lightning emitter, above.
    Multiple lightning emitters arrainged in 3D points would make a better globe. Again, I suggested the particle sim approach because it will look about 80% as good as setting up individual filaments for 10% of the work.
    In general, I would say take Axel's (or Simon Jones, or any Hitfilm staff's) advice over my own. I have over 20 years experience in VFX/CGI work, and my ideas WILL work, but there have been a lot of times on this thread where I have suggested a workflow that gets a good result, then Axel or Simon stroll in with something easier and more elegant (I once described how to set up a difference mask from scratch, and Axel's contribution was a simple "or, use the built-in difference mask effect." Knowing how to create a difference mask from scratch is great if you're in software without one built-in (Vegas), but a built-in effect is easier.)
    I know my principles, but the Hitfilm staff know their product way better than I do. :-)
  • CalebKCalebK Website User Posts: 435
    Axel, he's building off a test I did using lightning to generate animated textures for a particle sim. Since he's going for a 3D plasma sphere I thought that would be easier and faster than creating a huge array of animated 3D points and linking tens of instances of lightning to the points.
    Caleb, the particle sim will tend to flatten a bit as textures rotate... I got better results leaving the glow on texture layers and adding glow over the particle sim. Best results might come from using a particle sim combined with a few hero layers of pure generated lightning.
    Caleb, take a look in the trajectory controls for the emitter. There's a "Target" mode which lets you set a point particles "aim" at. Target the center of your globe and all particle filaments will line up with the center of the globe at least.

    OK! Now I'm working on your simulation~  I set all the targets to 0,0 and tweaked some settings and got the effect i wanted!  However i don't know how i would get rid of the lightning being flat, and about the outside of the ball how would i make it look 3d instead of 2d?

  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,243 Staff
    When it comes to visual effects work, there is almost never a right way and a wrong way, there are lots of different ways to achieve similar results.  Which one works best will depend on the situation, the tools, and the specific artist using them.  I didn't mean to discount your advice or imply that you were doing it wrong.  We do know the specific tools in HitFilm a bit better, perhaps, but there are loads of things the software can do that none of us at FXhome have ever tried, or even thought of, so we are always open to ideas and techniques being implemented by our users.  
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    edited January 2014
    When it comes to visual effects work, there is almost never a right way and a wrong way, there are lots of different ways to achieve similar results.  Which one works best will depend on the situation, the tools, and the specific artist using them.  I didn't mean to discount your advice or imply that you were doing it wrong.  We do know the specific tools in HitFilm a bit better, perhaps, but there are loads of things the software can do that none of us at FXhome have ever tried, or even thought of, so we are always open to ideas and techniques being implemented by our users.  


    Axel, no member of the Hitfilm staff has ever said anything I would imply as discounting advice or "doing it wrong." Quite to the contrary, there have been a few times where Hitfilm staff was very complementary of a workflow or technique suggestion I've made.  I was (accuratly) noting, with my background, and my long use of tools besides Hitfilm, that Hitfilm staff can often come up with an easier/better way of something I suggest WITHIN HITFILM. Often I'm browsing this forum while out and about an on my smartphone, so I'll make a suggestion based on memory, or based off something I've done in other software which I'm trying to adapt to Hitfilm, and you'll come along with a way that's easier!
    That's great! The forum then gets exposed to two methods--I learn a new method--that inspires someone else to adapt to method three and four, and we all learn!
    Certainly no one could doubt that the Hitfilm staff is open to new techniques and ideas. :-) The interaction you maintain with your users from these forums is certainly more thorough than that displayed by the makers of most of the other software tools in my box!
    OK, enough of that.
    Caleb---the advantage of building the plasma globe in the particle sim is ease and speed of setup--however, since the particle sim is moving a lot of flat, 2D textures around. You can reduce the "flat planar" effect by going to the Appearance tab for your texture source and turning on "billboard." This will keep each filament facing the camera so they won't thin out as much as you rotate around the globe--but this will also reduce a lot of the apparent 3D rotation if you're spinning a camera 360 degrees around the globe. The particle sim method has it's trade-offs.
    I'm still not certain how I'd get the outside of the ball to look like a 3D globe--especially if you want to see the filaments "flowering" against the inside of the globe (I'm wishing the Particle sim had a spherical deflector right about now.). Things that come to mind include finding a simple sphere model (download any planet model from turbosquid or tf3dm, and remove the textures), giving it a low opacity and high specularity and shine and wrapping that around the outside of the plasma, or doing a variant of the Energy Orb tutorial with a lot less stuff inside--just tweaking around a gradient or plane or something until I get something that looks like a glass ball.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador
    Ok, so, As I said above, a particle sim approach is a little easier to create, but it has it's drawbacks...
    So I took Axel's lovely lightning ball preset, and created six instances linked to points in a cube array--added a boring grid for reference and spun a camera around it.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/234074523/Public%20Hitfilm%20Projects/Plasma%20Arc%20Basic%20Axel%20Lightning%20Preset.hfp
    And, just for the heck of it, my current version built with the particle sim.
    From this point on, I'm going to move my discussion to your Mega FX thread. :-)
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/234074523/Public%20Hitfilm%20Projects/Plasma%20Arc%20Basic.hfp
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