Tag Archives: Super Smash Bros.

91: Bokeh Filters

This week, at Jennifer’s suggestion, I took a look into creating lens filters for my camera that would allow us to create custom-shaped highlights in bokeh photography. Firing the laser at some simple black cardstock, I carved a 2″ diameter circle with some tabs to mount it to the zoom lens enclosure on my camera. In the center of said circle, at about a half an inch big, I cut three designs featured as series icons in Super Smash Brothers: Samus Aran’s logo, Team Starfox’s logo, and a paw representing Nintendogs. I used a nice sturdy rubber band to secure the tabbed circle directly to the front of the lens.

The Starfox filter was attached upside down; it flipped in practice.
The Starfox filter was attached upside down; it flipped in practice.

Laying out and cutting these pieces was so simple compared to actually capturing the images I aimed for. I didn’t do any proper measurement for how big the Smash-shaped holes should be, despite recommendations elsewhere to use an equation involving the focal length and aperture size of your camera. I was also using a fairly middling camera without much breadth of options in either of those two categories.

An assortment of paw-shaped highlights from Nintendogs
An assortment of paw-shaped highlights from Nintendogs
These are Samus Aran's logo, I swear!
These are Samus Aran’s logo, I swear! They flipped on me, too.

It took a few hours of straight up experimentation (and a couple bundles of Christmas lights for easy bright highlights) before I was able to capture what resembled the beautiful creamy bokeh art out there on the Internet. One thing I didn’t realize until I was taking my third batch of pictures (the Starfox logo) was that the art you choose might appear flipped depending on which end of the focus spectrum you’re settling on. My hardware doesn’t have a fully manual focus option, so it was pretty difficult getting the shapes to fully reveal themselves. Still, it was a little bit magical when the shapes finally grew out of the blur in my viewfinder as I continued to adjust aperture, zoom, and focus settings. If you’ve got a decent camera, you should definitely give bokeh style photography a try, even if you don’t have a filter to turn the highlights into fun shapes!

With the zoom wide and the focus as close as possible, the lens filter cropped the entire scene clearly!
With the zoom wide and the focus as close as possible, the lens filter cropped the entire scene clearly!
Tiny Starfox emblems, somewhat visible despite focus issues.
Tiny Starfox emblems, somewhat visible despite focus issues.

37: Controller Tags

I was thrilled when Brenn commissioned something I hadn’t done before: acrylic labels for a Nintendo Wavebird controller.  I’m a huge fan of the Super Smash Bros. series of games and have three well-worn Wavebirds of my own, but in this case I would be making a name label for Alex, or “Killer Noodle 2.”

A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.
A template cut from cardstock helped determine shape issues.

Aesthetics came about a little by accident: Brenn suggested a car racing theme, but the checkerboard flag pattern I made ended up looking far more like a zipper than a flag. We decided to couple the zipper design with a Gamecube logo approximation font called Gamecuben.

The shape took a few tries to get right. That was mostly because I was too lazy to do precise measurements, but I did use some laser-cut cardstock to get a feel how the final acrylic piece would fit between the D-pad and the thumb buttons. Compared to the cardstock prototype, which wrapped down around the Start/Pause button, I cropped the final acrylic piece a little farther up so I could avoid obsessing over following the controller’s curved shapes as much as possible. It helped balance out the length of the username printed front-and-center, anyway!

Engraving through transfer tape didn't work so well.
Engraving through transfer tape didn’t work so well.

I used some 1/16″ Silver/Black foiled acrylic with an adhesive layer on the back. This made adhering the final pieces a snap. A long time ago, I ran across a conversation on a laser engraving forum suggesting that, with the right power settings, one could laser engrave certain 2-ply acrylics through the transfer tape, resulting in a clean engraving with no blow back thanks to the tape. Well, I tested that with this project and while I didn’t experiment with every power and speed setting available, I did give it a handful of shots. The results were almost universally sticky and inconsistent. A pity!

A matching tag for the Wavebird's receiver.
A matching tag for the Wavebird’s receiver.

A simple rounded rectangle with an LED window was made to fit on the Wavebird’s receiver unit. It used the same stroke effect and type as the main controller piece, so it was also quick and easy!

This was a fun project, partly because of my fondness for the hardware involved, and partly because collaborating with Brenn came easily, the design snapped together without much trouble and required few prototypes, and the final acrylic really stands out on the controller. Frankly, it might stand out too much, but I’m fond of it anyway!

The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!
The completed set: one Wavebird game pad and one receiver!