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Top Tutorials For Your Next Star Wars Short Film

Top Tutorials For Your Next Star Wars Short Film

Star Wars carries an everlasting impact on the VFX community. Let's see how you can create your own galaxy far, far away!

The Star Wars franchise contains the most influential films of all time in the world of VFX. It’s an easy argument to make. Not only did the birth of ILM jump-start an industry, poised and ready for each tech innovation, but the films to this day inspire generation after generation of new artists. Star Wars is to VFX as The Lord of the Rings is to Fantasy Writing—for a lot of us, it’s the inspirational starting point. 

One of the greatest gifts of Star Wars is its sheer variety. At the technical level, the subject matter covers the full spectrum of visual effects complexity: from entry-level all the way to the cutting edge. In your next short film based in a galaxy far, far away, try to grab a mixed bag—here’s a few killer tutorials to get you started.  

Ultimate Lightsaber Tutorial

Of course. What else can you start with? Lightsabers feel just as fundamental to every After Effects kid’s learning process as drawing fruit in art class. 

The best part? You can always make them better. This tutorial doesn’t push the envelope too far into the chaotic Kylo Ren territory, but it hones the core concepts far beyond a simple mask and glow. 

The Death Star Effect

This simple yet effective look from Film Riot is low effort but high reward. Worldbuilding will always be one of the biggest challenges for low budget fan films, especially with sci-fi inspiration. Though many elects for natural locations (Star Wars has trees too), you can gain a lot of immersion with simple effects. 

The best part about this one, in particular, is the concepts Film Riot are showing can be adapted to other concepts or scenes. Death Star, Star Destroyer, or Mufasa as they pointed out, the possibilities are pretty endless. 

Create a Star Wars Inspired Hologram in After Effects

The holograms of Star Wars are an ever-present and somewhat understated part of the films. From the famous “Help me Obi-wan” to galactic maps which fill a room, holograms are always a big ooh ahh moment for the audience, especially as they happen outside the regular action. 

This star map tutorial is rudimentary in many ways but can be ramped up with a lot of your own creativity and skill set. Some advanced tracking and a bit more purpose in the actual components of the map and a similar map could play a huge role in your Star Wars short. 

Star Wars Blender Tutorial | Star Destroyer 1 of 2

It might sound crazy coming from a compositor, but I’ve always found modeling to be an extremely tedious process. Nonetheless, if I were to sit down and model something, Star Wars ships are the perfect option for many reasons. They’re the perfect mix of simple shapes, extreme detail, and of course, carry over the spirit of their classic miniature forms. 

This tutorial has two big takeaways. One is the strength of modeling from schematics, which Star Wars ships have aplenty, and the other is the insane and almost effortless amount of detail one can achieve using the modern shader tech. In this case, microdisplacement is the special sauce that makes the model look close to pro in the end. How about combining it with Film Riot’s Death Star effect tutorial above? 

Create Laser Gun Effects in After Effects

Almost as classic as the lightsaber are the blaster effects in Star Wars. After all, this is the first light show you get in the original film as the hulking Star Destroyer tails the Rebel Cruiser after an iconic opening crawl. Originally painted by hand, lasers shots are simply colored masks at their core, sharing the same principles with lightsabers. 

This tutorial from our friends at Red Giant, however, takes things up a notch and leans on particle systems to achieve a wide array of effects. Consider then what you can add on top. Maybe some extra energy or sparks; a JJ Abrams lens flare or two?

Locking a core direction and building detail on top gives the artist a lot of fast and efficient control over the feel of the laser. From there, it’s all about the storytelling. Are your characters firing a quick and brutal barrage? Are they shooting with a staccato precision? These considerations are where you’ll find life and variation in the light show of your Star Wars short film.

First time here? ActionVFX creates action stock footage for visual effects and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

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