What "Recording Device" do you use to view your Saber's blade styles?

I’m genuinely curious about this one… In our household, we have 3 iPads;

  • iPad Pro (2017)
  • iPad Pro (2020) (Mine)
  • iPad (8th Generation)

And all 3 produce different results on the iPad’s screens when looking at the blade and the glow of my saber (I know, because I’ve had all 3 lined-up side by side at the same time and seen it).

But the problem with the cameras in these devices, is they seem to REALLY “blow out” (width) the saber’s glow. So I can’t imagine that they would produce the best and/or most accurate results when swinging the saber around or doing poses/stances.
We do have a couple of actual video cameras but I’ve not gotten 'round to trying those out yet. I’m guessing that the actual video cameras will be much better, because the cameras in the iPads aren’t anywhere near the standard of an actual video camera.

But what I’m interested to know, is…

What type of hardware do you guys use, to view your sabers with and what do you find gives the “best looking” blade/glow results?

First of all; I’m going to move this to the “Images” category.

Second; Filming or taking pictures of lightsabers is difficult. I’m not aware of any method that gives lifelike results. In theory, a good HDR-capable camera might be able to do it, assuming you have a good HDR-capable TV/Monitor to watch it on.

On the other hand, if you don’t care about life-like, then things are more about “looking cool” rather than accuracy, and in that case, crappy cameras sometimes do better than good ones, since they tend to produce more “glow” surrounding the saber. In fact, I know some people use filters, or even nylon stockings over the camera lens to enhance the glow.

Different cameras handle this glow very differently. Some will treat the lightsaber as the interesting bits in the image, and adjust the exposure accordingly. Since lightsabers are very bright, this usually means that everything else becomes very dark. (Unless you are shooting outside, or with very powerful lights, like on a stage.)

Other cameras might think the saber is not the interesting bits and adjust the exposure accordingly, this leads to the saber being blown out, but the rest of the picture might look reasonable.

Yet a third camera may be able to do HDR, and actually capture the full brightness of the saber, while also showing the rest of the room at normal brightness. (Although, as stated before, this camera is hypothetical… I have not seen a camera capable of doing this.)

One technique that I (and others) have used it to use a reflective surface when filming lightsabers. This might be a shiny countertop, or a TV screen in the background. When doing this, the reflection shows some aspects of the blade which don’t tend to show up well on the direct image of the blade.

One thing that has been recommended to me is to use brighter lights when filming lightsabers. This way camera should be able to show the full brightness of the blade, while at the same time, the surroundings won’t be super dark. I bought some video lights with the intent of trying this out, but I have not actually gotten around to actually doing it.

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In order to understand how best to shoot lightsabers, you first need to separate what you know from what you want to see. What we know is that a replica lightsaber is a tube filled with coloured light. But what we actually see in the movies is a ‘tube’ that is actually white - the only clue to the blade colour is the colour of the glow and the reflections on the blade’s surroundings. An example of this is shown below.

The prof has already touched on the main points, but what this boils down to is that as a general rule, the better the camera, the worse it is for filming lightsabers. This is because high-end cameras are capable of resolving higher contrast than cheaper cameras. Better cameras also include lots of gadgets like HDR that effectively force detail into parts of a photo that would otherwise blow out. Assuming you wnat your photos to look like the sabers in the movies, this is the last thing we want when filming lightsabers, because detail in the blade tube means we see the blade colour on the tube itself which tends to give the game away that it’s just a plastic tube - when what we actually want is for the tube to blow out white so that we only see the colour on the glow.

That said, there are certain higher end camera features that we do need, and they are the ability to lock exposure parameters. This means we can set the exposure correctly for the surroundings in the shot, which then means the lightsaber blade, when lit, will overexpose without the camera trying to correct for it. This overexposure is what will make the blade look real.

I actually made a short video all about this here:

And if you ever buy a Sabersense lightsaber, it will include a fun little magazine which also includes an article all about it. This comparison shot from that article shows what I mean about what we know versus what we see:

Tha last thing, which again the prof touched on, is that you can utilize reflective surfaces to your advantage. For all my lightsaber demo videos on my channel, I shoot them on a leather topped desk which gives enough reflection to show blade effects, but not enough to show the unlit blade. When combined with some simple camera tricks, you can create quite realistic videos like this one:

Lighting for that video, and indeed for all my demo videos, is a combination of natural light through a window camera-right, a full white computer screen as a backlight above the top of the frame, and a 650 watt tungsten light placed camera-left and back a little bit (kind of over my shoulder) with a full CTB gel (to match the daylight) and a double layer of spun to diffuse and soften it. The camera is nothing more than an iPhone 6s shooting in 1080p HD with a soft filter over the lens, but with colour temperature, ISO and shutter speed locked with a simple app.

But to take it back to the original post, in your case CWG, it sounds like your devices are giving too much flare to your blades. Obviously I don’t know the finer points of how and where you’re shooting them, but I would say that if you can increase the ambient light in the room, you will effectively reduce the difference in light level between the blades and their surroundings which should reduce the flare and the degree to which the blade blows out. Like all these things, it’s a balancing act, and you just need to experiment to find the sweet spot that gives the results you’re after.

Hope all that helps, and if all else fails in terms of stills photos, I offer an inexpensive service on my website to add realistic blades to your photos here:


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I’ll concur with all of the above and add the caveat that your “best looking” and mine may differ. I’ve been filming “styles” for blades for a while and I get my “best looking” using a cheap “Action Camera” from Amazon, essentially the knock off GoPro’s. My current camera isn’t listed on Amazon anymore but it’s something like this (or just search for “action camera”) Amazon.com : Action Camera 4K30fps with 64G SD Card,HD Waterproof Camera 131ft Underwater Cameras 20MP Pre-recording WiFi Camera 170° Remote Control Sports Cameras with 2 Batteries Helmet Mount Accessories Kits : Electronics

My personal preference is filming styles against my light colored carpet, the fibers of the carpet allow the glow to show just enough to display the animations (which are my main focus).

However, I also film standing up when I need to show gesture or interactive effects, and the camera still handles the “glow” effect I am after pretty well, I don’t do anything to my videos what you see is what the camera captured, no editing, cleaning etc, I hit record, hit stop and simply upload:

The other thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the environment, avoid light sources that can reflect off your blade tube. I typically pull the shades on my room and only use the overhead light, this allows the blade’s light to show the best and still give a “glow”. The distance the camera is from the blade also plays a part, if you’re too close it tends to wash out more, but if you’re two far you lose the “halo” effect that makes it look more like what we see in the films and tv series (of course without the actual VFX work). Everything on my channel is filmed with these small cameras so you can get an idea of what I’ve come to find works best just by browsing through:

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