Transporter - Special Effects
The basic crossfade effect in the Introduction is about as easy as it gets, but we'll need to add a little sparkle to create a proper transporter beam. The original transporter effect sparkle was ultra low-tech: Alka-Seltzer in hot water (apparently it wasn't stirred glitter in water).
I'm not going to focus at all on the creation of the sparkle effect itself, however.
At the end of this article, I do have a link to some sparkles that I have created for this project that you are welcome to use as you wish. In any case, once we have set up the basic compositing layers, selecting your choice of sparkling fill is a simple matter.
In general terms, the effect consists of five layers (although we only need three tracks is Vegas, since the crossfades [each is technically two layers] sit on one track each). From top to bottom: (Track 1) the matte to limit the sparkle, (Track 2) the sparkle/crewman crossfade and (Track 3) the crewman/background crossfade.
This is going to seem a little complex on the timeline, but it basically looks like this:
As you can see, the bottom layer (Track 3) is identical to the simple ghost-fade described in the Introduction. Tracks 1 and 2 then are where the fancy compositing for the sparkle effect happens. The rest of this tutorial is going to explicitly show how this works in Vegas. While FCP and MSP, et. al. will all use a different specific procedure, the concepts are identical. I'm going to simplify the timeline a bit to show you more explicitly what is going on. I think the easiest way to understand this is to initially use text. We've all added titles to our videos and the timeline below shows how it looks in Vegas, with the output pictured to the right.
The checkered background in Track 1 indicates that the background behind the red "Trek" text is transparent. This allows the background in Track 2 to show through. If we inverted the transparency, we could make the background sparkles show through the text instead, with an opaque background color of our choice. Think of text and titles as font-shaped mattes. For our transporter effect, we're going to create a matte shaped like our crewman. The shape of the matte is different from the text, but the concept is exactly the same. Note especially the checkered background behind the crewman-shaped matte in the illustration below.
How did I make the crewman-shaped matte? I grabbed a still frame from my video and used my image editor to select the outline of the crewman, filled it with white and then inverted the selection and filled in the background black. OK, actually, I selected the crewman and saved the selection as a Alpha Channel into a PNG image, but the point is that I created the matte manually by painting. This matte doesn't have to be perfect, since it is just the overlay effect, but it shouldn't be too hard to get it right.
The tricky (and confusing) part is making the background of the matte+sparkle layers (Tracks 1 and 2) transparent to yet another layer.