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Three to beam up!

One of the most iconic visuals in science fiction filmography is the teleporting device known as "transporter" from the Star Trek universe. Using some simple graphics manipulation tools, and optionally a little bit of chroma keying, it turned out not to be that difficult to introduce a transporter effect into a home-made movie:

What we basically did was to gradually fade the beamed object(s) out of the image while temporarily overlaying it with some color and light effect.

And here are the glory details:

Glitter Effect

In order to create some glittering light effect, I modified the ImageMagick random flux animation cycle example to create a high-resolution, blue-ish 2.something seconds animation cycle of blurred, coarse random noise on a transparent background:

Here's the script I used for creating the frames:

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The Maks

Of course, the transporter effect should be restricted to those areas occupied by the objects being transported. To this end, I "rotoscoped" the (extracted) still frame showing the objects (dis)appearing using Inkscape and added some blur using ImageMagick:


For letting things (dis-)appear, we need two shots: one with and one without the object(s)s in question. During transportation, we'll fade between these to shots. Furthermore, the superimposed, masked glitter effect will be faded in and out during the transporter sequence.

In order to get away with just one mask, the simple transporter effect demonstrated here works on a still frame of the life action shot, preventing the transported subjects from moving away from the mask. Here's how the compositing looks in Kdenlive:

Chroma keying

Beaming onto an alien planet surface requires applying chroma keying to life action shots. To this end, we rigged up a green screen studio using a couple of old bed sheets which we dyed using a commercially available textile dye for home usage. Again, even illumination is the key point (and not easily achieved...). Furthermore, it is important not to allow changes in exposure time and appeture during filming since this might temporally alter the recorded shade of the green screen's color in an unpredictable manner.

Sound Track

Sound is so incredibly important in making a movie feel real -- this hold, of cause, also true for the transporter effect demo reel.

The "star ship bridge" ambient sound audible during the first shot was created using the sound generation functions of Audacity: low-pass filtered noise, sine waves, chirps and <linlk>DTMF tones.

The actual transporter sound was generated by just layering some notes of some pad sound provided by my good, old SoundBlaster Live! using the Rosegarden MIDI sequencer.

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Star ship bridge ambient sound

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Transporter sound