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TheForce.Net Theater FAQ
By Tony the Jedi

Before looking in the FAQ please make sure you have already checked the film making section for all available tutorials and tips on film making from TFN. These answers are meant only to point people in the right direction on question that have arisen time and time again. The best way to make your film is always to do what you feel is correct.


Overview:
Pre Production

Do I need a good story to make a good film?
What do I use for a lightsaber?
How do I make costumes?
How much does a fan film cost to make?

Production
Should I use a blue screen or green screen?
What kind of camera should I use?
Where can I find cast/crew/CG artists?

Post Production
How do I get my movie in my computer?
How do I make those nifty glowing lightsabers?
How do I make blaster bolts?
How do I make an opening crawl?
What programs should I use to edit my movie?
How do I get sounds of lightsabers/starships/blasters/explosions?
I don't have any money, what programs are free?

General
Are fan films legal?
Can I buy/sell fan films?
Hey, these stories contradict canon/official continuity materials! What gives?
What if have another question that is not covered here?



Pre Production

Do I need a good story to make a good film?

It depends on the type of movie you want to make. Many movies are focused solely on special effects, while others are more gears toward developing characters and telling a tale. The most successful fan films are usually the ones in which the special effects are build on a strong story foundation. Although if you have some amazing eye candy odds are no one is going to complain with just that.

What do I use for a lightsaber?

Lightsabers in films range from plastic toys, to broom handles, to pipes. You should use whatever is most readily available to you. Make sure to a use bright color for the blade so it can be easily spotted in your film later during post production while you are adding the glow. For a reference on building your own lightsabers, please see: Building your own lightsaber. Also you can consult the Costuming and Props message board as people there are always willing to help.

How do I make costumes?

Please see the tutorial Creating Classic Costumes or consult the Costuming and Props message board for specific costuming needs.

How much does a fan film cost to make?

Fan films can cost very much and also very little to make. All films require a video camera, which can be found in nearly every household. If you plan on editing online, you will also need a capture card to import your video on to a computer. After that it is up to you where you want to go with it. Films can be very professionally done, costing thousands for hi-tech software and elaborate movie sets. For the monetarily challenged, there are a variety of free and shareware programs available for download that can be used to help with your film.


Production

Should I use a blue screen or green screen?

The most widely accepted colors for compositing in films are blue and green. The choice you make depends on the colors being used in the scene. If you have something blue being filmed then you should use a strong green screen and vice versa. Green has been the primary choice for many modern feature films and the majority of people will suggest green. Make sure your filming area is evenly and well lit.

What kind of camera should I use?

Fan films have been taped on classic VHS, 8mm, and digital formats. Digital camcorders provide the best quality but are also the highest priced and the tapes are expensive also. The biggest advantage of digital video is that it can be transferred directly to a computer without loss of quality using a port on the computer referred to as ieee1394/i.link/firewire. The name varies based on the platform you are using but they all provide the same function. 8mm and VHS tapes can also be captured to a computer using an analog capture card.

Where can I find cast/crew/CG artists?

Check the TF.N Theater Cast and Crew database.


Post Production

How do I get my movie in my computer?

To get your footage on to a computer, you will have to use a capture card to ³capture² the footage to a format that is understood by your computer.

How do I make those nifty glowing lightsabers?

This may be the all time most asked question regarding fan films. There are several methods of making lightsabers and dozens of variations to each method. The most commonly used style is the rotoscoping method, in which you go through your film frame by frame and paint the saber blades on top of your footage. This can be time consuming but in most cases will be worth the effort. This can be done with a filmstrip file in photoshop and tutorials for it are here: Darel's Method and Creating Lightsaber Blades in Adobe Photoshop. Lightsabers can be done in Mainvision with the tutorial Lightsabers and Energy Weapons. Yet another option would be to use LIA, or lightsaber ignition action with can be downloaded here. If you have Ulead Media Studio you can also rotoscope lightsabers with the tutorial Creating Lightsabers in Ulead. Note: The ONLY way to create a filmstrip file from your video is with Adobe After Effects or Premiere. There are no direct filmstrip converting programs.

How do I make blaster bolts?

Making blaster bolts can be done similarly to making lightsabers.  Paint the bolt as small lines on your footage moving across the screen in several frames and then add the color glow you wish the bolts to be.

How do I make an opening crawl?

The trademark Star Wars opening crawl can be done in almost any 3D graphics program, as well as Adobe After Effects. A tutorial for doing it in the free program Blender can be found here. A tutorial for After Effects can be found here. You can find some accurate title fonts at Boba Fonts. For the main story scroll, Arial is the most commonly used font.

What program should I use to edit my movie?

Some of the most commonly used programs to edit movies are Final Cut, Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Ulead Media Studio, Final Cut Pro, Mainvision, and other high end programs that far exceed the price limit many fan film makers. Download some trial copies of different programs from their respective web sites and see which you are most comfortable with before you buy any. Software Note: There is a list of commonly used software with details in the TF.N Software Index.

How do I get sounds of lightsabers/starships/blasters/explosions?

TF.N has a wealth of sounds effects available for download here.

I don't have any money! What programs are free?

You can use the 3D Suite Blender found here. For an excellent resource on blender check out blenderwars. Axogon, a video editor, used to be a free program but has since become Mainvision. Some places online still provide it for free, but finding it will be difficult.


General

Are fan films legal?

Legal in the sense that you won't get in trouble for them - yes. Most fan films do include material that is copyrighted and trademarked by Lucasfilm, but the wonderful people there know that it is the fans that keep them going so they pretty much let fan films get away with using trademark characters, locations, ect. When making a film, be careful if you are going to use characters from movies or books that are not covered by Lucasfilm, such as Star Trek or Superman, as those companies may not be so generous. A recent Superman fan film was shut down because of copyright infringement.

Can I buy/sell fan films?

NO. No, no, no, no, no. Films may be distributed without profit only. If you make money from a film, it is considered copyright infringement and may force Lucasfilm to come down hard on not only your film but EVERY fan film. This is a sensitive issue and for the sake of fan film makers everywhere, please do not attempt to sell a fan film on Ebay or anywhere else. If you want to give your film out on a format other than the internet, it is suggested that the individual give you a disk or VHS tape for you to copy the film on to and give back to them. There is a very thin line between making a profit and not, for which it is better to play it safe.

These stories contradict canon/official continuity material! What gives?

Lighten up, they're just fan films. Many films are not meant to be taken as an official part of the Star Wars universe and directors and writers are free to express themselves and their movies any way they choose.

What if I have another question that is not covered here?

Take it to the message boards! People are always willing to share film knowledge at the TF.N Fan Film Message Board.


-Tony the Jedi
TonyD1441@aol.com

These FAQ¹s could not have been created without the fine people who regularly attend
the TF.N message boards.  Special thanks go to them. Yes, even Nathan.

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