Today we are making a really cool saber style worship background in After Effects. The possibilities for this one are endless! I’m pretty excited!
So in a new 1920×1080 composition, the first thing I want to do is make a new Black Solid. And we want to add the saber effect on this layer but this isn’t an effect that comes natively in After Effects but it is a free plugin! It’s a plugin from Video Copilot called Saber. Completely free. Super cool plugin with a ton of capabilities. Click here to get that plugin.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, you may need to restart After Effects, but once you do that you’ll see a new effect under Video Copilot called Saber. Just drop that effect onto the black solid. This instantly gives us a neat saber effects that were able to adjust and move around. I’d encourage you to go through the presets to find a look that you like because each one of them is so different in the amount of distortion, the amount of fog, the color, etc. One that I decided on for this look as the Protocol preset. And remember you’re not locked into the presets color. You can change the color to whatever you want!
I want the beam of light to pop a little more so I just want to play around with the Intensity, spread, and Size properties until I get something I’m happy with. Then I’ll go under my Customize Core drop down and crank down my end size. That’s going to make it so one end is smaller than the other. Giving it the feeling of creating a trail of light the core.
Next, let’s create the positioning of this beam. Instead of just dragging the two points to reposition the beam, I’m going to do a technique that’ll allow me to create multiple beams per layer. To do that I’m going to grab my pen tool, and with my Saber layer selected I want to add a line from off the screen to about the center area of my composition. We’re going to mirror this beam later so we don’t need to animate all the way across. This is going to act as the path the Saber will go on. Once I have my line, I’ll set my Core type to Layer Masks. This snaps the saber beam to the layer mask that I just created. And we’ll add more beams in just a second, but let’s add a quick animation to this beam that we have so far.
To do this we want to add keyframes to our Start Offset and our End Offset. So in our Start Offset, with 2 keyframes we want to keyframe it from 100% to 0% over about 2 – 2.5 seconds. And this is the animation that we have. Then if we adjust the End Offset, what that’s going to do is bring the tail end of this beam to the front end of the beam. So let’s again set 2 keyframes, the first one at 100 and after a few seconds bring it down to 0. And now this beam has both a start and an end to the animation.
I think this is looking pretty nice so far but let’s create that mirror effect that I mentioned earlier. That’s the part that’s really going to sell this effect! Well before we jump into that, I want to invite you to check out the course, the After Effects Roadmap for Churches. There’s a ton of great tutorials on YouTube for After Effects but the problem with MOST of those tutorials if they don’t have your ministry in mind. Or they just teach a small portion of AE so you’re left to stick everything together. But that’s how the After Effects Roadmap is different. Level up your social media posts, on-screen backgrounds, countdowns, video announcements, sermon series bumpers, and really anything else you can think of…! We’ve got a lot to learn here at the AE Roadmap! To sign up for that, click right here to sign up!
So I want to add that mirror effect sooner rather than later just so I have a good idea of what this is going to look like. I want to add a new Adjustment layer and on that adjustment layer add the effect, Mirror. With this effect, we are able to position the mirror and determine which direction is being mirrored. We want our mirror to be directly in the center and mirror the left side to the right side. And just so you know the center of a 1920×1080 composition is 960×540 so that’s what I’m going to set my Reflection Center point to.
That’s going to position that reflection right in the center. And I’ll leave the reflection Angle at 0 because it’s mirroring how I want it by default. So now we can see any animation happening on the left side is also happening on the right!
Let’s add some more beams! With my first saber layer selected I’m going to again grab my pen tool and draw another path for the beam. Since this layer is already set to Layer Masks, it’s going to automatically make another identical beam for you. And just know that all the layer masks on this layer are going to create beams that look identical and have identical animations. So if you want to have varying beams in terms of their look and offsetting the animation you’ll want to have multiple layers to do that.
So that’s exactly what we’re going to do! With this layer selected I’m going to go to Edit > Duplicate. Or Command + D. And before I adjust anything I want to set the blending mode to screen. If I don’t do that I won’t be able to see the bottom layer through the top layer. Setting it to screen makes the black background on that layer transparent. So now that I can see both of those layers I’ll adjust the positioning of the masks to a different spot but parallel to our original lines. And I want to set these lines apart and give it a different color. So in my effect controls, I’ll get my color to a green color.
And that’s looking good, but to really set it apart from the original beams need to also adjust the animation. So I’ll hit U on my keyboard to open up the active keyframes. And it’s really just a matter of playing with and tweaking the timing. You’ll notice that the more the start and the end keyframes overlap, the shorter the Beam is. Which it might be kinda cool to have a small little beam come in followed by a larger one. So let’s do that. I’ll just make a small beam and then duplicate that layer and offset the timing of that layer behind the short beam layer. Then I’ll open up my keyframes using U on the keyboard and adjust them to make the beam longer following behind.
So now this is really the technique that you’ll continue to use as you continue to make beams. First duplicate the layer, second, reposition the mask paths, third, change the color, fourth adjust the timing of the animation. So I’m just going to do this a couple more times to make a few more beams.
Next, I want to create the vertical mirror look so I’m just going to duplicate my adjustment layer at the top that has the mirror effect on it and the only change I’ll make is setting the reflection angle to 90 degrees on the top adjustment layer. Now we have this look of having 4 different quads all mirroring what’s happening in the top left quad. And I’m really liking the look of this. This is when it starts to get a little hypnotic..!
The only issue is that this animation isn’t very long. These beams have an end to them and that means it only ends up being a 3-4 second long animation. So what I’ll do is just duplicate all the beam layers and offset them so their animation begins as the first beams end. This creates a constant loop of sorts. But the thing is it only makes your animation longer, it doesn’t actually create a full infinitely going loop.
But lucky you, I actually put together a tutorial on creating infinitely loops for your worship backgrounds so you can turn this animation into a seamless loop that never ends. If you want to watch that video, click right here.
Or to watch more worship background tutorials, make sure to watch this video here!