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Spartan
5th Oct 2010, 00:45
Does anyone out there know of, or have, a good tutorial on how to create a Trek style tractor beam in Max or After Effects?? I have some general ideas on the subject but want to be sure I'm on the right path..

Thanks in advance!

Melak
9th Oct 2010, 14:02
The tutorials forum really isn't a good place to ask question, as it will more than likely go unnoticed here.
I don't know if this is spot on, but fairly simple to make:
http://img266.imageshack.us/img266/9240/20101009153125clipboard.jpg

Create a cone (ideally, don't make the pointy end completely pointy, that makes the UVs there go crazy) for the beam,
and take a standard material, and create a mix map diffuse slot.
Make the 2nd color a light blue, set the mix amount to ~50% and create a gradient ramp in the first slot that looks something like this:
http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/7008/20101009154726clipboard.jpg

Copy/instance this mix map to the self illum slot, and create a mix map in the opacity slot. Copy (not instance) the other mix map into the first slot, and edit the gradient to be black/white.
Then, go back to the topmost mix map, and create a gradient map in the "Mix Amount" slot. Set the 2nd color of the mix map to black (this will fade out the beam towards the end of the cone). If it fades out toward the wrong end, swap the black and white colors in the gradient.

Finally, select the cone, right click -> object properties, and stop it from casting shadows.
If your lighting is having a very strong effect on the beam, set the light to ingore it.

Spartan
11th Oct 2010, 02:43
Yeah, I completely missed the correct area for this and didn't realize it until after I posted it here.. Next time I'll be a little more observant! ;)

That's the look I'm going for! I had started going in that direction, but wasn't sure how to get the bottom edge of the cone to disappear.. I would imagine then that to animate it, you would just mess around with the rotation of the cone.. Or would you animate the material itself?

Thanks so much for the mini-tut, I will give it a shot!!

Melak
11th Oct 2010, 11:15
You're welcome :)

Looking at this picture, and the episode its from, the effect gets bigger/smaller, with the number of streaks changing. I guess you could put two gradients like that, one with more streaks one with less, into a mix map and animate their UV coordinates to rotate/scroll in different directions, then animate the mix amount from 0-100 and back a couple times.

Spartan
11th Oct 2010, 23:27
You're welcome :)

Looking at this picture, and the episode its from, the effect gets bigger/smaller, with the number of streaks changing. I guess you could put two gradients like that, one with more streaks one with less, into a mix map and animate their UV coordinates to rotate/scroll in different directions, then animate the mix amount from 0-100 and back a couple times.

Hmm..

It seems the effect slightly changes between the different incarnations of the genre. I was studying a scene from the VOY episode "Timeless" and I see exactly what you mean.. The effect still moves but the streaks seem to jump around a bit, but it seemed to me that they stayed the same width.. It is hard to tell if the number changes, or if it is just the positioning. It seems to depend on the angle you're looking at the beam from.

I'm going to mess around with a few different ideas, hopefully come up with something that works!

Thanks again!