While this isn't used too much on the show anymore, I think still believe it's a fairly hand power.  Like most effects this has recently received an improved look, another tutorial for another time.  This tutorial covers how the effect originally looked.  Click here for sample (requires Windows Media Player)

 

SKILL LEVEL:  BEGINNER

Materials Needed:

    -3DS Max (Any version should work)

    -Adobe After Effects (Any version should work)

    -Still or video camera

3DS Max


        Step 1: Start up a new session in 3DS Max. In the Top View create a Spray Particle System. Still with the Top view selected, right click on the Rotate button. Under Absolute World, set the X-axis value to 90 and the Z-axis to -45. Now right click on the Move button and set the X,Y,Z values all to 0 for the Absolute World.

        Step 2: Select your Spray particle system. Under Parameters, change the Viewport Count to 300, Drop Size to 6, Speed to 30, and Variation to 20. Change the type of particle to Facing. Finally, under Timing, set the Start Time to -20 and the Emitter Length and Width to 300.

        Step 3: Right click on your particle system and select Properties. Near the bottom in the Object Properties dialogue, you should see the settings for Motion Blur. Set the Multiplier to 10 and set the type to Image. Once your done there, just render out the animation to .avi or .mov file. Name the video RW Particles. NOTE: The default project length in 3DS Max is about 3 seconds. If you want your particles to run longer, you'll have to change the time length (See Max's help file).


After Effects


        Step 1: Create a new After Effects project and name it Ring World. Import your RW Particles you made in 3DS Max and whatever background footage you're using. Make a new composition set to the proper dimensions and time length as your background video. Call the composition Blurry.

        Step 2: Drag your background video into the Blurry composition. You'll notice in the movies that the "invisible fire" doesn't blur Frodo completely, just the background.  In order to achieve this we'll need to create a mask around the person/item that is focused on. Use the Pen Tool to draw an outline around the person/item of your choice. The outline doesn't need to be perfect, there can be some areas that receive the blur, but that's up to you. NOTE: If your focus object is moving (very likely) then you'll have to animate your mask. To do this, select your footage in the Timeline Window, hit M on your keyboard. This will bring up the Mask rollout. You should see a small button next to Mask Shape, looks like a stop watch, click it. Now you can use
the selection tool to move the points in your mask. Right click on your mask, or select a point and right click, then choose Inverse. Inverse will make it so you can so everything but your focus object is visible.

        Step 3: Drag in your RW Particles video you made earlier. In the Timeline Window you should see a button called Switches/Modes, click it. Next to your background video, under TrkMat, click the rollout menu and select Luma Inverted Matte. You should notice your particles are now being used as a matte and you can see them flying all over your background.

        Step 4: Create a new composition called Ring World. Drag your background video in, then your Blurry composition. With your background selected, go to Effect-Adjust-Levels. Inside the Levels dialogue change the Gamma to .9 and the Output White to 225. Make sure the Levels effect is selected in the Effect Controls box, then do a Edit-Copy. Now select the Blurry layer and do an Edit-Paste. Now the Blurry layer should have the Levels effect applied to it as well. NOTE: The settings for the Levels effect worked well for my scene, but if it is not dark enough or it's to dark for your taste, change the settings to suit your scene.

        Step 5: Again, with your background layer selected, go to Effect-Adjust-Color Balance.  We'll use this effect to give us that blue tint. Use the picture below for the Color Balance settings. Once you're done with that, copy and paste the effect to the Blurry layer like with the Levels effect before.



        Step 6: Finally, select the Blurry layer and add Effect-Blur&Sharpen-Fast Blur. Adjust the Blurriness to your taste. A blur of 5 worked well for me. That's it. Just render out your movie.

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