Sci-Fi Weapon FX Tutorial

published on July 19, 2020

Hey what's up Andrew Kramer here for Video Copilot dotnet and welcome back to another very exciting tutorial today we're going to be taking a look at creating some cool sci-fi weapon effects so let's go and take a look at what we're going to be creating

You all right so there's gonna be a lot of cool stuff in this tutorial where we shown you how to create a lot of these little effects and tons of little tips and tricks so even if you're not doing

Some sci-fi effects I definitely recommend this tutorial and it's going to break it down so we've got some muzzle flashes we've got some displacement we've got some sparks we've even got some lighting on the side of

The gun it's a very high-tech futuristic gun and of course we have Sam Loya wait that's not Sam Loya actually he wasn't available so I ended up filming myself for the tutorial and this was shot on a green-screen I just replaced

It with a warehouse actually I wouldn't be surprised if the weapons of the future had Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and maybe social networking now for this tutorial we don't need to use any third-party tools but I will be using the free color

Vibrance plugin so you should download that from the tutorial page now I am going to be using some shock wave effects from our product shockwave but you can also use the free shockwaves from our recent tutorial so definitely

Check that out some really cool tips in that tutorial as well and I think that's it let's go and jump in and get started alright so I've got some footage here of me drawing a gun and pretending to fire and we'll go ahead drop that into a new

Comp now I'm going to go ahead move forward to right before the gun kicks back I like to put my muzzle flashes right before the recoil so we can use page up and page down to find that and then we're gonna create a new solid now

I'm going to go ahead and make a white solid and we'll call this muzzle flash and they'll head okay now I want to trim this down to a single frame so we'll grab these shrink it down so it's just a single frame just like that okay so I

Want to draw a basic muzzle flash shape so we'll shut the I switch off and we'll take the pen tool and we'll come in here and we just want to draw a sort of a generic muzzle flash shape okay so this looks pretty good let's go ahead and hit

F and bring up the feather properties for the mask and let's just feather it out a little bit then we'll come over here the effects and presets I'm going to type in fact I'll noise and let's drop that on to our solid and this is

Going to add a nice fractally noise let's set the blend mode to none no clean up the edges from being a little faded now for the settings here you know we can turn up the complexity of it maybe we'll set it to dynamic

Progressive you guys know I like to do that invert it add a little contrast maybe turn the scale up and turn the detail up now we can move the fractal noise effect by grabbing this interior icon and just kind of finding a nice

Spot for it now let's add another effect called radial fast blur and we'll put this after the fractal noise effect and you can see it kind of creates a nice directional kind of blur radial blur let's set it to brightest now we want to

Make sure that they're parallel so let's pull this back in line with the back of the gun so we want to make sure that that looks like it's going the right direction and maybe turn down the brightness a bit so that looks pretty

Good and we can always tweak this turn the brightness up and such but now I'm going to add some colorization using our color vibrance effect so we'll type in vibrance and we'll take the VC color vibrance effect and drop that in there

So right away this is looking pretty sci-fi ish now I like to turn on the fill empty background and then set the whole layer to screen okay so I think this looks pretty good I might turn up the amount of the fast blur and maybe

Change the color to blue now this is something we could change to anything that we want we could play around with this point maybe move it over a little bit so that that bright spot in the fractal noise looks like it's coming out

Of the gun so we could potentially just shift that over a bit it's always good to kind of look for natural areas that seem to blend together now another thing I might do is duplicate this and put one right here in

The beginning and I might even offset the evolution and I'm going to select the mask and delete it then I'm going to hide the layer and I'm going to draw my own mask shape around the interior of this gun we can turn it back on then we

Can hit F and feather it a bit now we might turn the radial fast blur down to the touch and we can also play around with the contrast if we want to make this more or less you know turbulent essentially but this is going to give us

A little bit of motion we can also play with this evolution to find a more interesting version of the primary muzzle flash so I think that's pretty cool and then what I might do is duplicate it one more time slide it over

And for this extra copy let's change the evolution and maybe hit F and change the feathering a bit and then take that whole mask and maybe just kind of shift it forward a bit turn the brightness down we're sort of just trying to create

Like a residual sort of flash okay so let's go and take a look all right so that's looking pretty good now I want to add one of our shockwave elements now the shockwave elements have some really cool detail there's a bunch of different

Ones so feel free to experiment with some of the different looks I'm going to be using shockwave number 19 and as I said before you don't have to use the product shockwave you can also check out the shockwave tutorial and create your

Own or even download the project file and once you render out one of those you can just bring it in just like this so we're going to take shockwave 19 drop it into our comp and we'll set the transfer mode to screen and we'll also take our

Vibrance effect drop that on to our shockwave element so we'll slide this over maybe I'll time remap this so we'll choose right click time time stretch and we're going to set it to maybe

Five so it will be a lot faster and it will slide this over and let's change the color to blue now I want to make the middle a little less distinct so let's take the ellipse tool and just draw a simple shape around the core and then

Hit F feather it and then subtract it and go feather a little bit more so this is the basic idea might scale this up a touch and already this is this is looking really good so I'll move this into position we can even turn it into a

3d layer so if we toggle the switches make it a 3d layer and then rotate it a little bit so that it's kind of perpendicular with the gun alright so that looks pretty cool maybe I'll go into the VC color vibrance

Bring the gamma down a bit maybe turn the brightness up try to make that a little punchier alright so we're using a single shock wave effect but in order to customize these effects and create a bunch of different looks

I had to experiment with some different ways of using the shockwaves so I came up with some cool techniques that might just blow your mind so I'm going to take a quick sidetrack from our current tutorial and I want to show you just

Some cool ways to customize some shockwave elements so let me take one of the shockwaves drop it into a new comp and here we have just a cool element now what I'm going to do is speed it up by choosing time stretch and set it to 50

And that'll make it easier to see the effects of the next recipe okay so we've got a shockwave element then I'm going to come over here and type in polar coordinates drop that on there and turn out the interpolation what this will do

Is turn it into sort of a linear effect and then we can start adding some more effects so let's come over here and add motion tile and we'll throw that on here and what this allows you to do is repeat the edges by Eiling them so if we set it

To 50% that will create two repetitions of but here's the cool thing I can come over here type in polar coordinates again and reverse the linear effect so let's set it to rectangle to polar and

Crank up the interpolation so now we have a radial effect again but the difference is we've added the motion tile so here's one hundred percent and we have our single shock wave but at 50 percent we've repeated the edges and

We've also kind of added a little bit more detail but the one problem here is that we toggle the switches the effect is a little bit smaller and that's because the polar coordinate effect sort of compresses the image we can fix that

With the transform so let's type transform throw that on after the motion tile but before the second polar coordinate effect and let's go to the transform and let's uncheck uniform scale set the scale to 200 so that way

We're bringing that scale back in as we turn this on and off we're going to have the same basic size except now we're repeating the edges using the tile effect so how cool is this that you can actually change the repetitions of a

Radial effect right now the shockwave explodes outwards but what if I wanted the shockwave to explode inwards how would I do that well here's what we're going to do let's go to the transform and let's set the scale value

To negative 200 now we can look at this and we can kind of see that it's exploding inward maybe we will set this to negative 100 and we can kind of see what that looks like but we need the help of one more effect and that's the

Offset effect so we'll take the offset effect put it before the transform and we want to adjust the vertical position so here's what we'll do move this down a bit and we want to just move it down until our effect doesn't look so

Stretched out so here it looks right now that looks pretty nice let's add the color vibrance effect and some colorization maybe we'll do fiery orange it's cool so let's set the transfer mode to screen and then

Duplicate the effect and then let's reverse it so well we could just turn all the effects off except for the color vibrance so now we can see we have our inverted shockwave along with our normal shockwave and we created a really cool

Two-tier effect now our radial shockwave might be a little bit big we could probably either scale it down or shift the position using the offset and then actually scale it down as well just be careful you don't want it to get too

Bunched up in the middle so just shift it away and then you can either scale it down here or just scale the clip down entirely now if the outer edge is a little bit too harsh like it is here we could do

Two things we could do what we did earlier which is just simply remove the effects and add a circular mask and subtract the core and then when we turn the effects back on you can see that this feathering will actually affect the

Entire clip so maybe we'll hit mm turn of the expansion add the feathering back another thing to do is anytime you're working with transparency crazy stuff just go to the color vibrance and turn on fill empty background and that way

You actually get a slightly more filled in colorization so really cool we could maybe just scale this hit f9 to ease it into the keyframe and just you know scale it down I'll come over here we've got all of our other shockwaves so

Remember where there's 50 different shockwave elements well we could go take both of the elements hold down alt and drag another shockwave on top of it and I'll actually replace it so now it's chalk wave number 1 and now we've got a

Really cool combination so we've got the inside and we've got the outside that are being comped together to create a really cool look and again we could tile this outside one when go to the tile effect

Set it to 50% and now that's got more detail and anytime you change the tile amount just make sure so if it looks kind of stretched just go into the transform and play around with the scale until that value looks more you know

Even but again I think I think the 50% looks nice so you can definitely do a lot of cool stuff with this basic idea and you know simply switching the effects out are going to you know give you some different results so we've got

The inverse of the shockwave mixed with the outside shockwave very cool let me show you what we're actually going to be doing so this is just kind of an exploration in using these elements as well as your own elements with some of

The different effects but what I want to do is something really unique with the shockwave so I'm going to duplicate the current shockwave and check this out I'm going to uncheck the 3d layer switch and I'm going to right click and reset the

Transform so right now it's two-dimensional I want to make it three-dimensional and here's how we're going to do that we're going to type in the polar coordinates effect drop that before the color vibrance turn that up

And then what I want to do is unmultiplied it so right now it's got a black background but I'm going to set the Alpha to only and what that will do is get rid of the black and just give us a white alpha Channel

Then I'm going to come over here and I'm going to type in cc cylinder and so we'll take the CC Sellner effect and apply it after our color vibrance and now we have a 3d cylinder we can actually create a camera and we can

Rotate around this and we actually have a 3d effect so right away we can do some fun stuff so let's just delete the camera and use the transform inside of the rotation so let's just rotate this negative 90 and maybe over a bit and

Maybe we'll turn the radius down a bit and let's move the position to kind of line up with our gun so let's unsolo this go into the cylinder and we'll just shift it over here a bit and we're going to want to

Rotate this as well that looks pretty good and maybe turn the radius down a bit so this is going to also be somewhat of a shockwave element so if we you know we can move it closer to the camera to make it larger and we can just kind of

Rotate it till we get a nice angle that matches our shot and so we look at one of our original examples you can see this element that kind of spins and I've done it using the same technique so I've taken the element and I'm going to

Animate the rotation so we could do that by keyframing it set a keyframe that you move forward and just kind of rotate it and then hit f9 to kind of slow that keyframe down and you can see in this example it starts out and it actually

Gets bigger so we could do that just by keyframing the radius and turning it up a bit and hit U we could hit f9 kind of slow that down a bit – now let's colorize this so we're going to leave this color vibrance effect here to

Unmultiplied so if I turn this off what's going to happen is we're going to lose that backside effect so let me see if I can find a way to show you this without this on we're only seeing the front side of the cylinder but if we

Turn this on we can actually see the area underneath it so you can kind of see how that looks now one thing about the cylinder effect it does have some shading but let's set it to 100% ambient and 0% for all of the other values that

Way it's just pure white so now if we come over here and type in vibrance again let's throw that on here and let's fill the empty pixels so we don't lose any of our illumination and let's set this to blue maybe turn the brightness

Up we could also play around with the position of the cylinder so it could be a little tricky since we rotated it to get it to you know move in the right direction but maybe we keyframe the

Exposition hit you and just kind of slide it over just want it to kind of move a little bit in the right direction and of course we can just move the whole layer to if we want to just adjust the entire position maybe we'll start it out

Even smaller turn the radius down to like 10 maybe slow this rotation down let's say okay so this looks pretty cool it looks a little bit slow so I might just shift it over and crop the front of it off just so that it kind of gets into

The effect a little bit faster and looks more like residue rather than the actual effect all right let's go and start customizing a little bit more I actually have a comp of some sparks that were created inside of particular so I'm just

Using a couple of different particle you know forces like wind and turbulence to just kind of create some wild particles there's a bunch of different tutorials on Video Copilot for sparks so I won't get into this but pretty straightforward

But this is also just another thing that you can add so for example I could just add these sparks into the comp slide it over a bit and set it to screen and even though they're a different color I think it still looks pretty cool now let's do

A few more things like for example our muzzle flash is a little bit dull so let's see if we can brighten it up a bit I'm going to come over here and type in glow drop that onto our muzzle flash and let's put the glow effect before the

Color vibrance effect and let's set it to screen and if we increase the size of it we can actually make it nice and bright maybe even go into the vibrance effect turn the gamma up and maybe even turn up the brightness

I think that looks pretty good nice and powerful maybe take that second copy we can even brighten that up so that get a little bit more life a little bit more movement your eyes always going to kind of follow that secondary movement

Alright so these are our visual elements but I also want to add some cool distortion effects let's add a new adjustment layer and a couple of the effects I've been using the ripple effect throw that on there and let's set

The layer so let's just trim the layer down and we can hide a few of the effects by soloing the top and bottom layer and let's just turn the radius up so we can kind of see this is a cool deform effect we could turn it to

Symmetrical turn up the height and we could just create some cool kind of warping maybe turn the speed up that maybe the width a little bigger so depending on the radius something like that and so what we can do is align this

With the gun and maybe we could show all the layers now and depending on how we want to do this we could put this below the muzzle flash I think that looks kind of cool kind of gives a little bit more depth like it's distorting on the plane

But maybe we take the shockwave and put it below the distortion so we'll click on this and type in distortion and these are all just you know choices you can make will set this to red you want to put the distortion below above you know

Play with it until you see what you like but what I'm going to do is take the height and keyframe it and hit U so now I'm basically an f9 I'm basically fading out the distortion and maybe I'll change the speed to like four so that looks

Pretty cool maybe add a little bit more so it kind of fades out nice residue now you don't have to do this but I am using a few elements from our action essentials 2 pack I do highly recommend pack and no we do try to show you

Alternatives to doing a lot of stuff but for 100 bucks you can really get some great organic elements that you can combine and mix with your final comp so that's actually what we're doing with these muzzle flashes we're actually

Going to take the smoke residue after the effect and composite so let's take muzzle flash number two drop it in here and I'm actually going to take the front of it the muzzle flash part of it and I'm gonna just cut it off so now we're

Just kind of left with the smoke and we could scale that down a bit so the smoke layer I might put above the distortion and this will just give us just a little bit of residue and we can even slide it over just so that we see just the tail

End of it the nice thing about explosive effects is that they don't really need to fade on in fact fading stuff on actually makes them feel weaker or softer whereas in this case we want them to kind of pop on really dramatically

And you know of course we don't want them to be too intense but so a little bit of smoke I think that looks nice the other thing I did for my example was I added another distortion effect called bulge so we'll take the bulge effect and

We'll scale up the shape so just make it nice and large and then turn the taper up which is going to just clean up the interior edge here and then we can just keyframe the Bulge height so we could set that maybe 07 keyframe it move

Forward a couple of frames and then set it down to zero and we could put it before the ripple after the ripple so all the things you should kind of experiment with the nice thing about the Bulge is it really gives you a powerful

Hit right when the explosion goes off of the gun so even if we turn it down to a lower value it just kind of racks the whole frame and you know it looks really nice and of course we could do a negative bulge which could be

Interesting like sucks the fun out of the shot a couple of other fun ways to customize this so if take one of my shockwaves and say duplicate it I might just come over here to polar coordinates turn this up and

Remember I've got a linear effect now so let's turn off the 3d layer switch scale it down and so like in one of my examples I just had sort of like a stream of particles that was kind of left over after the initial shock wave

And you could use this to sort of simulate that and maybe duplicate it and rotate it the rotation tool here and here's what that might look like maybe I'll take these two and change the time remap on them to like 50 percent so that

They have a little bit more you know depletion so that they fade out a little bit slower so line that up with the gun a bit you might rotate these effects too so that they actually align with the you know with the gun and stuff like that so

Again these are just little tricks that I actually used in the original example so I wanted to kind of show you so just like that I've just taken a shock wave and use the polar coordinates effect to straighten it out basically now you

Think with a gun that's powerful they'd at least give me some goggles or something so that I'm not going blind every time I'm shooting this radioactive gun here's another quick thing to just kind of give you some ideas like if you

Look at this one this is a really crazy gun right but this effect is actually not that complicated so let me show you just the basic idea behind that so you can kind of start looking at ways of creating your own so again I was trying

To encourage you guys to you know experiment and play around with different ideas I'm just trying to give you enough of the idea so that it makes sense but here's a really cool way to create that sort of you know plasma type

Of weapon so let's create a solid and we'll call this plasma and it doesn't matter what color solid but what I'm going to do is add the ramp effect I think it's called gradient ramp in CC so there we go and this is going to give

Us a simple gradient and they're going to add the colorama effect and let's change the output to ramp gray nice and then we'll turn the cycle repetition up I'm not sure let's do like four and then we'll go to the input phase and animate

The phase shift so this will actually kind of animate this and we'll alt click on it we'll type in time times you know negative 200 so just creates a little bit of an animation and we can change the direction by just doing times 200 so

We'll see what looks best here's what we're going to do we're going to add a curves adjustment just to dim it out a bit and then we're going to add the CC cylinder effect so check this out I'm going to rotate this set negative 90 and

Then rotate on the X actually maybe on the Y we'll rotate it this way it will screen it back on top here so now you see where this is going so this is really really cool now this plasma gun needs to go in the other direction or it

Needs to go a little faster right it's a little slow so let's hit you let's set the value to time times like five hundred and just to explain this expression it's taking the current time and multiplying it times 500 so that it

Basically just goes faster and then I'm just taking the radius of the cylinder and turning it down and then maybe taking a copy of it duplicating it going to the scale scaling it in a bit a little bit lower so you can kind of see

Just those two copies together and what I could do is change the speed value so do three so that way they're not at the same frequency and just so you know depending on what frequency you put this at sometimes it can actually look like

It's going backwards or it's going too slow so you really just have to play down with the you know it's only like six or seven frames so alright let's try 600 so that's cool and we can even play around with the

Phase so for example we could go and change the output from four to three and then we'll make three copies but how do we get it to look really cool and kind of warp II like we see in this example well here's how we're going to do that

Well take one of the copies and let's add the CC glass effect now I'm sure the tutorial is getting a bit long but I want to show you all the cool little details so we'll take the CC glass effect throw it on here so if we change

The bump map to none it'll actually use the input source so then what we can do is change the height to negative 50 and maybe soften it up a bit play around with the displacement here let's see something like that it's kind

Of looking interesting undo that real quick so again this is just you know experimentation you just want to play around with these with these values and just kind of see what what looks cool what looks interesting here is the big

Thing that we have to do so we've got the effect we could of course add our vibrance effect and we'll set the fill on and set it to blue copy that paste it to the color copy so we'll take these two copies and we'll pre compose them so

We'll select them hold down shift choose layer pre compose which is just off the screen there and we'll call this plasma and again you can just duplicate more copies to all sorts of stuff here let's set this back to screen and then we're

Going to create a new adjustment layer and we're going to add the glass effect again CCE glass and for this effect we're going to choose the plasma layer as our source then we're going to take the glass effect and put it all the way

At the bottom so that it's only affecting the bottom layer so now you can kind of see what the glass effect is doing we're sort of displacing the background a little bit so if we

Crank that up maybe add some more blur maybe add a little bit more height you know negative or positive whichever one looks cool and we can actually start to see the background becoming displaced so that's that's pretty cool and then we

Could take the plasma here maybe add some glow to it make sure it's set to screen and and there you go you can you know go into the glass effect maybe soften it even more to just really distort the imagery in the background

And that's really you know the idea behind this and of course I just have several copies on top of copies kind of doing the same thing so now another thing I might do is duplicate it and maybe instead of the Colorama effect

Maybe I could just add a fractal noise and you know really kind of create this sort of let's see stretched out noise effect like that and you can kind of see me put the curves after it how some of those other effects came together as

Well in this example so you just have like some stretched out fractal noise mixed in as well you know you could just go turn the gamma down on some of these so they're not so intense and that will just make

The effect a little bit more subtle a little bit more believable and of course on top of the entire effect we could do that same thing we could put that glass effect right on top maybe before the glow and set that to none and just kind

Of set it to a negative value here I mean even that is kind of a wild looking effect that doesn't look like anything that you know is recognizable just kind of a cool abstract high-tech looking effect so who knows experimentation

That's the key so let's take a look here all right so this is look really good the last thing we could do is maybe add a little bit of high-tech lighting to the side of the gun what I might do is take my footage and track it

In mocha so we could do animation track and mocha ae and we'll hit OK and the basic idea is to go forward right to where it's going to happen and we're going to draw some shape so I'm going to zoom in just a bit here and we're going

To draw a shape right around the side of the gun and then we're going to track backwards so just kind of you know we can do it by hand actually because we're not going to that's good we actually don't need to track too much I think

That's probably enough and so now we're going to export this so let's go right to the frame right before it moves and choose a line surface now in the later versions of mocha you can right click on the mask and choose align to surface and

That'll do the same thing and then we can choose that shape and choose export tracking data and we're going to export this to corner pin and copy to clipboard then we jump back into After Effects I'm going to create a new solid and call

This lights and we'll go for the beginning and choose edit paste there's only a few keyframes so right here you can see nothing's moving but up here everything is moving so we could throw a grid effect for the corner pin and we

Could see that so maybe right here and let's trim that alt begin bracket or just trim it over forward right when you shoot so we're going to turn it off and we'll get rid of the grid effect so here's we're going to do or hide this

Layer select it zoom in and we want to put this down below right above our gun and then we'll take the pen tool go to full res we'll just draw some basic shapes in here so we'll draw like some grooves and then we could add a couple

Of horizontal lights you could take that and duplicate it I even add a couple of circular ones right here on these cores and we'll turn that effect back on now I can see it's a little bit offset so if we move it over

To the surface that we aligned it to and actually tweak these and just move them over just line up a little bit better so anything that we do on this one frame should track to the rest of the frames and if we want to add a little bit of

Motion blur we can actually do that using the force motion blur it'll actually add some motion blur we can turn the shutter our angle down a little bit so now we want to illuminate a bit so what are we going to use yes the free

VC color vibrance effect and we'll turn on the fill empty pixels set this to screen and we could do you know pretty much any color here we could you know just do red let me turn up the turn the gamma down it's cool that when you lower

The brightness it actually keeps that bright red color so maybe we can add a glow right after the color vibrance effect and you can just see how that looks very natural the way that it's blending one of the things you might

Notice in the original examples is just as the gun fires the light it lights up and then right when it fires it turns off and that does that to conserve energy but also I didn't want to have to track the gun after it shoots because

It's moving around a lot so I just made that up so that I wouldn't have to do the work that's the truth so I can actually just kind of shut this effect off right when the muzzle flash should start firing and no one's the wiser so

That's basically the way we can do the effect now if we want to animate these on we could turn the motion blur off for just a second and you know we can do it a couple different ways we can add some masks and maybe subtract them and just

Do a quick keyframe of the path slide let's see so here we just have them sort of turning on let's reverse the order here so we'll just slide that one there and sign it back and let's take a look sweet very very cool so this is really

All there is to it I know there's a lot of various steps but I didn't want to leave anything out hopefully you guys can pick and choose the things you like the best customize it with your own effects come up with some really cool

Looks and then make your next sci-fi movie so anyway thank you guys for watching of course we used our new motion poll sound effects collection to create all the different sci-fi effects so if you're looking to add some sound

Effects definitely check out motion pulse my name is Andrew Kramer thank you guys so much for watching and we will see you next time

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