Transporter effect

How can I create a Star Trek style transporter effect?

Great idea … :slight_smile:

Hmm, start with a spotlight, turn on Halo … could keyframe the intenstity… add a particle emitter for the “twinkles” … parent some small object to the emiiter and turn on Dupliverts … animate the Alpha of that material…

I’ll see what I can come up with … would love to see how accurately some of the more experienced and talented artists here could do this :slight_smile:


I hope you can have a full explanation of how to do it. Know of any tutorials for doing it?

Hmm I’ll have to rethink this… the halo / particle thing is more like the “beam up” for StarMan than StarTrek. :slight_smile:

Some kind of animated materail / Node effect / Node materials is probably needed for a 'Trek transporter.


I’ll take anything that works, even if it’s from a different show.

Thanks for the invitation, guys. Since it’s a really yukky Saturday, and I am a really big STOS (star trek original series) fan, let’s break it down. First, the STOS was old skool sfx, so it makes more sense to use more of the VSE than nodes. And the VSE is simpler. So lets take the VSE approach.

Import the video of them walking onto the platform and then standing very straight (it’s a little known fact that transporting was supposed to be very painful. I know, the Feds don’t want it known, but they also fail to publish transporter fatality statistics too (except that one show where the bootleg vid was smuggled out).

When they stand on the transporter, you grab the last frame and stretch it out in the VSE 30 frames. That grabs that last frame and duplicataes it as a still. Over the course of a second (30 frames), Cross fade in an image of the empty transporter room. review to make sure it looks like they just fade away.

Now for the glow. It looks like they actually just painted on celophane an yellow-orange glow, brought that down in front of the camera, held it, and then brought it down out of frame. To do the same in blender, the halo’s that Mike suggested are a good idea. Animate them to drop into the scene, hang there during that 30 seconds, and then drop them out of frame. Color the spots that yellow/orange, and make them very narrow. You might even have one above and one below. Adjust the distance so they meet waist high. The acutal light may have to be pretty high so it looks only like a bulge. In the VSE AlphaOver that Scene on top of the Cross effect. Review to see glows in front of them (but not so bright that you can’t see them).

An alternative to the light is to just make a scene with bezier or nurbs circles, stretched out to ovals, colored yellow/orange with 30% alpha. You would then alphaover that Scene on top of the Cross. Now there’s this plasma glow as they are fading away.

Now for the sparkle. In the studio, I bet they just threw glitter into a spot light and filmed it. To do the same in Blender, you have to…hmmm…very hard halos, or particles might do it, inside a vortex control tube to make them spin and drift down. Light them with bright yellow/white light. Now that effect has to start all at once, but then be Translated downward. see the wiki on the Translate effect. Start it at the 20th frame and end at the 30th, i think its -Y direction, where Y is the height of your output video.

As an alternative to the halos, you might try texturing those ovals with a Noise texture mapped to white. A very coarse noise, not grainy, but spaced out. Now the Noise will just jump around a bit, and give a different look, but hey, maybe you got your transporter off a Ferrengi selling hot goods.

Then of course, is that really wierd sound effect. I think that was a very processed guitar bend or a moog, layered over with some sort of pinging sound (reused from Spock’s sensor station?)

Hope this helps. I’d Love to see the results! post it on youtube or just upload to Polorix and post the link. The other thing to mention in all sfx is believability. Audiences want to believe it’s real, even if logic dicates its impossible. STOS knew this, so they showed CK walking on, cut to the operator/scotty, cut back to kirk “energize” cut to his hands moving a sound board fader sliders papered over (so hokey, but so convincing), cut to effect, cut to Scotty nodding, cut to planet where effect is repeated but the cross is reversed (2>1) . Coupled with the wierd sound, the Sequence is believable.

For the glitter they filmed actual glitter in a glass of water (stirring it first). Then overlayed that over the film for where they wanted the effect.



Plugging “transporter effect” into google turns up a bunch of interesting looking links. They’re using other compositors (Adobe Premier … Vegas), but should be adaptable to Blender’s Nodes or Sequence Ed … I’m reading them now :slight_smile:

"ST:TOS Transporter Sparkle Effects

Over the years there has been quite a bit of confusion about how the glittering transporter effect was created for ST:TOS. I was recently contacted by a gentleman named Pony Horton ([email protected]) who actually worked for one of the main effects houses that created Star Trek’s effects. Pony let me in on how these effects were actually created. Here’s his description of the process.

In 1978-79 I worked for Van der Veer Photo Effects, one of several optical houses that handled effects for ST:TOS. I personally worked with an old-timer named Hugh Wade at Van der Veer, and Hugh is the man who actually invented the “sparkle” elements of the beams themselves, which were then provided to other optical houses to ensure visual consistency.

Now, here’s the secret: it wasn’t glitter against black, or glitter stirred in water, as LeVar Burton stated during the 30th Anniversary special. It was Alka-Seltzer in hot water, lit from below, and shot through a fish tank! They discovered the effect while shooting Alka Seltzer commercials in the early '60’s, as hot water makes it bubble better. They shot the bubbles under white light with macro lenses at high speed, probably in the 48-72 fps range, and composited the element in the optical printer with amber filters. Interesting note: you can see inconsistencies in the color and size of the sparkles from one effects house to the next. Some are golden, others silvery. Some are large bubbles, others fine. Sometimes they’d do the “heart core” as the first and last part of the beams you saw, other times they’d just super the whole shape at once.


well, there ya go. In reading this, I am reminded of some very fine gentlemen and ladies here who talk about organic modeling, and why it will always be better than artificially generated models. Here we have an example of organic compositing/filming, where organic real-life bubbles from AlkaSeltzer (of all things) and a fish tank (or dime-store glitter in a glass of water, I personally think it may have been that at one time) provided the sparkle effect that we, with all our digital gizmos, are hard pressed to re-create in the same amount of time and cost it took them. Very interesting.

I guess too it’s like texturing. I read a post discussing textures and one guy said, “I just use photos of the real thing” and it was like, yeah, maybe I should just get off my butt and go outside with my camera and take a few shots of my brick wall, rather than spend 5 hours trying to create it with procedural mats/tex.

And I guess if they lit the bubbles with orange light, it would be an orange glow with white speckles. We composite that with 50% mix during the Cross, and you’ve got it. Off to the drug store…

Thanks! :eyebrowlift: I’ll check it out later.

I stand corrected. :wink:

/me off to get a some alka-seltzer


I noticed this forum had a post about the info I had emailed a gentleman a number of years ago about the STAR TREK transporter sparkle effects.

Thought you might like to know that I have been creating new transporter effects and matte paintings for the web-based series STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES, which is produced by James Cawley. My first episode was the now-released BLOOD AND FIRE, written and directed by David Gerrold.

I used the Particle Systems in Lightwave, along with a lot of post-production tweaking in After Effects, to get the sparkles to look as close as possible to the originals. More recently, I have created a a more vibrant variation on those to bring them more in-line with the look of the original Alka Seltzer beam effects.

You can see them at

They’ll be the video for Diamond Select Toys (which I produced), where the phaser and communicator are beamed-in.

You can also see the earlier version from BLOOD AND FIRE at this link…

As well, there’s an article on how I did them, at…

I’d be happy to answer anybody’s questions.


I’d be happy to answer any questions.

If you wish to see one of my transporter effects shots from STAR TREK: PHASE II, visit my MySpace page. It’s on the front page, just scroll down a bit and you’ll see it. It’s below the clip of the Next Generation transporter, just below the “Who I’d Like To Meet” portion of my profile. Also, if you click the VIDEOS link below the photo of me, you’ll see a slightly varied look to the beams on a test spot I created for Diamond Select Toys.

These effects were created using particle systems in Lightwave 3D and tweaked during compositing with After Effects.