Alien Teleportation Effect | Brick à Brack

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Hey guys!

So I created a brickfilm for THAC XVI that featured two new characters to my brickfilm stories - two aliens named Shakolix and Fil. I wanted to have them appear with some sort of basic teleportation effect, so I whipped up something quickly using Adobe After Effects and the Video Copilot Saber plugin. Figured I'd share my process here, see if it helps anyone and maybe get some ideas on how to make it better for the future!

Note: This isn't a complete tutorial, I want to play around with this more before I offer it as a full resource to the community. Experiment with it please, and tell me what works!

Val and Captain - The Mod Element Mystery (THAC XVI 2019)
@Chris Major
While Bob searches for Randy, Captain Viktor "Existential" Ekistenshal and Valerie seek to uncover the mystery behind a strange, lost object.


The Timeline:
I used three tracks in my After Effects project - a still frame of the background (labeled Original Footage), a layer with an Add mask over the aliens (Aliens), and a second layer with an Add Mask over the aliens (SaberGlow). As Saber seems to erase whatever is inside a mask with the Core settings, I needed 2 layers of the masked aliens to make this look good.


The Saber layer was configured with Blending Mode>Screen so that way the background on my effect is transparent. I'll explain exactly what I changed in the Saber settings for each frame of this animation. Basically, I started with a frame of nothing, a frame of the aliens immediately appearing, a frame of the cool-down on the teleportation, and a frame with the aliens and no teleportation effect.

Frame 1 - Pre-Teleport:


I drew a basic mask around both aliens - something fast and loose since THAC is race against time. The mask does not change across the effect. Under the Saber settings, I made sure the core of the effect was set to the mask and set up the basic sense of the effect. The default "Saber" preset was switched to Arc Reactor. The following parameters were set for this frame:
  • Preset: Arc Reactor
  • Core Type: Layer Masks
  • Glow Intensity: 0% (Keyframe)
  • Glow Bias: 3 (Keyframe)
  • Core Size: 0 (Keyframe)

Frame 2 - Teleport Start:


The Glow Intensity and Glow Bias determine the nebula-ish glow that comes from the Arc Reactor preset, while the core size is kept small to give a general sense of energy wisps. While I would have liked to keep the core as small as possible, I could not get it to look good at a smaller size. I tried playing around with the Halo Intensity (144%), Halo Size (180%), and the Core Softness (0.7) to keep it light and to have it outline the aliens. It's close, but I think there's room for better.
  • Glow Intensity: 50% (Keyframe)
  • Glow Bias: 3 (Keyframe)
  • Core Size: 1.8 (Keyframe)

Frame 3 - Teleport Decay:


The glow intensity fades to indicate the decaying energy around the teleported aliens. Not much to say about this shot as everything rests on Core Size and Glow Intensity.
  • Glow Intensity: 15% (Keyframe)
  • Glow Bias: 3 (Keyframe)
  • Core Size: 0.8 (Keyframe)

Frame 4 - Post-Teleport:


Glow intensity reduces to 0, getting rid of the nebula-ish energy around our two aliens. The core effectively turns off with the Core Size parameter. All is back to normal, the aliens have arrived and they want their Mod Element back.
  • Glow Intensity: 0% (Keyframe)
  • Glow Bias: 3 (Keyframe)
  • Core Size: 0 (Keyframe)

Conclusion:
For a THAC effect created in barely an hour, I think this is an effective and easy teleportation. While I'm glad it worked for the film and provided something of a framework for more development, I think there's plenty more work to be done before I use this again. I would like to develop the following:
  • Making the glow decay last longer than a single frame
  • Create "in-betweens" of the aliens so they don't just immediately appear in a single frame
  • Experiment with colors and color shifts in the effect itself
  • Experiment with a glow "warm up" to complement the glow "decay"
  • Find a sound effect/multiple sound effects to complement the visuals
All that being said, if you're interested in playing around with this idea, please give it a shot and reply with your results below! You can share your progress by using the <image> tags, linking a YouTube video with the <video> tags, or clicking the paperclip in the top right and uploading a screenshot from your computer. I've already planned for Shakolix and Fil to appear in future brickfilms, so I'd really like to get this effect in a good place for the community to use!

Love it Chris! Very insightful and a nice quick tutorial!

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