Lens Effects Glow - Distance From Camera


I’m trying to make a lightsaber; I have the model ready, but the glow effect around the blade is not working properly:

Looks mostly good, right? The problem is that the glow effect does not stay the same size relative to the blade when the distance from the camera changes.

I’ve tried absolutely everything I can think of, but nothing seems to work. Under “Lens Effects Globals”, there is a check-box that says, “Distance Affects”, with both “Size” and “Intensity” listed…but checking those boxes does squat. (What are they even there for? The MAX help files are very, very vague about them, no details at all!)

I’ve searched Google and Facebook 3DS MAX groups…in the few places where people have asked this question, most of them never got a reply, and when they did, the advice almost inevitably referenced effects options that I couldn’t find in MAX: “Check the [fill in the blank] box and adjust the [fill in the other blank] spinner,” where neither of those fill-in-the-blanks seem to exist in the places they claim.

Please, please, please help me; I’ve been struggling with this one on and off for years, and nobody has ever given me an answer, even to say, “Sorry, that’s not possible with MAX.”
Thank you.


Why do you want to do a lightsaber effect only with max? I would export a render of the white blade and control the glow in compositing. After Effects, Nuke, or Fusion.

To plug my own warez, I designed a plug-in to do realistic glows in After Effects, and it does lightsabers well, as you can witness in the demo.



Well, I think a large part of the reason is cuz MAX is what I have.
So…unless you’re suggesting I pirate one of those other programs, I’m pretty much stuck doing this entirely in 3DS MAX.

And it really would be nice to have this functionality in MAX, regardless; I can think of lots of times/reasons it might come up, sometimes where doing it in post would be super impractical.


I think in the movies they just adjusted the size of the glow per shot instead of doing something automatic.


I would use some emissive volumetric material. It will give you that fade out effect and it will look good from all angles (unlike mapping geometry with some falloff shader), but most importantly, it will scale down further from camera.


That is an option I’d considered and searched for…but I don’t know what such a thing would be called or where I would find it. Can you give me specifics on where in MAX this exists?

I’ve tried modeling the glow using a Capsule or something, but it never looks right; often, the tip of the blade looks funky, like you can see that there is a cap there because it’s a little less opaque than the rest of it, so I know that’s not what you’re talking about…



Which renderer do you use?


Mental Ray


If you use Mental-Ray use the Glare-Shader. Create a Arch&Design material+Glow for the blade. That looks awesome.


See, I’ve tried that…maybe I just don’t understand how shaders are supposed to work, but I could not get an actual glow.
And the MAX Help files are not help at all; they describe what things are…but not how to use them. I can’t seem to find tutorials. It’s very frustrating, left to just fend for yourself entirely, tweaking settings blindly, hoping something you do might at least get you started down the right path.

Can someone give me details? Please? I’m really, really stuck, here.


Here you go. I saved the scene in 2014 format. Hope you can open it:


I have 2013, but I’ll give it a whirl. Thanks.


…and that would be a no.
Opening it is a thing I cannot do.


If I use the Glare shader…where do I put it? There’z a double-wide buttload of map slots on the Arch&Design material, and none of them are unambiguously where one would put such a thing.

For that matter, I don’t even see a “Glare” shader.


Okay, it took some digging, but I think I found it…and it doesn’t work.

The glare cannot be assigned a color, so the lightsaber blade has to be the same color as the glow. And lightsaber blades are white with a colored glow. So that doesn’t get the job done.

Also, I don’t seem able to apply it to just one specific object, or to a material ID channel, so it makes the whole scene glare.

I really think that what I need here cannot be a camera effect. I think I need something that is physically in the scene itself, something that is geometry. Like particles, maybe, except using those is awkward since MAX makes a lot of assumptions about how they’re gonna be used.


Is this the effect you’re after?



If you see, the glowing nimbus is exactly the same size on the close ones as it is to the far ones. The further from the camera the blade is, the smaller the glow should get, only in that pic, it doesn’t.

It needs to stay exactly the same size relative to the blade’s apparent size, or it’s not doing what I need.

This is showing more or less what I mean using geometry.

The problem is that the Falloff to make the edges fade out never works right and the tip of the blade always looks funky, like there is a ring around the edge where it starts to get round and dome-like.

But as you can see, the blue is always the same size relative to the white, and that’s what I need to make happen.


I’m going to call you out on that. The glare gets physically smaller with distance in the image I posted, that’s exactly why I took the time to reply. These effects are very customizable, I can make the glare smaller or larger.


You’re not really describing a true glow or glare effect then. Why not use a falloff material with white as your base color and whatever edge color you like?


I have to disagree.

It’s hard to see because your glows all overlapped, but I Photoshopped these together, and the glows are all the same size, regardless of the blade size.

You’re not really describing a true glow or glare effect then. Why not use a falloff material with white as your base color and whatever edge color you like?

Because I’ve tried it; it doesn’t work. There is always something that doesn’t come out right.
Like I said earlier, the tip of the blade always looks wrong, like there is a ring around the bottom of it. And the Falloff never does what I want it too, either. There is always some deal-breaker that makes the effect not do what I need.