Created By: SentaiToku on February 10, 2013 Last Edited By: DAN004 on 9 hours ago

Colorful Contrails

A visible trail behind a fast-moving X

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Page Type:
Trope
DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft


Whenever something or someone moves at high-speed, especially when flying or running, there is a good chance a path of color behind. Said path may be stylized with sparkles, fire, Battle Aura, stripes etc. for the sake of Rule of Cool.

A form of Motion Blur. Compare Burning Rubber, Speed Stripes and Speed Echoes. When applied to a bullet, see Every Bullet Is a Tracer; when applied to swords (or other melee weapons) see Sword Lines.


Examples

Comic Books
  • Julie Power/Lightspeed of Power Pack leaves a rainbow-colored trail behind her when she flies.

Film
  • In the TRON franchise, light cycles leave a solid wall of light in their wake, as they are used in a game where the goal is to make the other racer(s) crash into the other wall.
  • Star Wars: Space ships leave a subtle streak behind when entering or exiting hyperspace. From the perspective of the ship itself, the stars appear to stretch into lines instead of tiny dots of light.

Live-Action TV
  • In Automan Automan's superfast car leaves a blue streak behind it.
  • In the Heroes episode "The Second Coming" where Hiro meets his "archnemesis" Daphne, who is a speedster, he stops time. He then follows the motion blur streak which exists In-Universe to where she's stopped - and then she moves! She's moving so fast that even with time standing still she can still move at (what appears as) normal speed.
  • Smallville
    • Metropolis' anonymous hero (Clark) is called "The Red and Blue Blur" (or just "The Blur" for short) because all anyone can see is Clark's trademark red and blue clothing zip by as he's heroing.
    • In the episode where Clark meets the Smallville version of the Flash, they have a race where the Flash looks like a blur to Clark.
  • Star Trek: Starships leave a streak when they go to warp speed. From the perspective of the starship itself, the stars appear the be elongated streaks separated into different wavelengths of light.

Video Games
  • A variant in Elsword: As Eve airdashes, her drones (which aids her on doing so) will emit a blue streak (pink in Awakening Mode).
  • Super Smash Bros.: Sonic has a blue streak behind him when doing certain moves, such as Homing Attack.
  • CommanderVideo from BIT.TRIP often has a yellow-orange-blue-pink-purple rainbow behind him when he moves. Like so.
  • In Homeworld, small ships like fighters leave a trail behind them that not only looks cool but also helps to see them when the camera is zoomed out.

Web Animation
  • The Youtube meme Nyan Cat is shown flying with a rainbow trail following it.

Western Animation
  • The Powerpuff Girls. The three eponymous superheroines tend to leave a brightly colored trail when they fly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Speedster Rainbow Dash has a trail that matches her mane colors.
  • Perhaps the Trope Maker, the Silly Symphony version of The Tortoise and the Hare has Max Hare leave a blue streak when he runs.
  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger from Uncle Grandpa always leaves a rainbow trail behind her. In one episode, this trope is exploited when the other characters follow Tiger's trail to find her.

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • February 10, 2013
    TonyG
    A form of Motion Blur. Related to Speed Echoes and Sword Lines.
  • February 10, 2013
    StarSword
    I think you mean "Conspicuous". Fixed.
  • February 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Automan Automan's superfast car leaves a blue streak behind it.
  • February 11, 2013
    shoruke
    The Flash.

    When applied to bullets, see Every Bullet Is A Tracer.
  • March 16, 2015
    DAN004
    Call this Streaks Of Speed.

    Might wanna take this over.
  • March 16, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In the Heroes episode "The Second Coming" where Hiro meets his "archnemesis" Daphne, who is a speedster, he stops time. He then follows the motion blur streak which exists In Universe to where she's stopped - and then she moves! She's moving so fast that even with time standing still she can still move at (what appears as) normal speed.
  • March 16, 2015
    Laevatein
    Julie Power/Lightspeed of Power Pack leaves a rainbow-colored trail behind her when she flies.
  • March 17, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added media section title.
      • Added an asterisk at the beginning of examples to indent them.
      • Namespaced and italicized work names.
  • March 17, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Smallville:
    • Metropolis' anonymous hero (Clark) is called "The Red and Blue Blur" (or just "The Blur" for short) because all anyone can see is Clark's trademark red and blue clothing zip by as he's heroing.
    • In the episode where Clark meets the Smallville version of the Flash, they have a race where the Flash looks like a blur to Clark.
  • April 25, 2015
    DAN004
    I believe TRON is a popular example of this. Can't write the example properly tho.
  • April 26, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
  • April 26, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^
    • In the Tron franchise, light cycles leave a solid wall in their wake, as they are used in a game where the goal is to make the other racer(s) crash into the other wall.
  • April 26, 2015
    henke37
  • April 26, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • Perhaps the Trope Maker, the Silly Symphony version of The Tortoise and the Hare has Max Hare leave a blue streak when he runs.
  • April 26, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    Not fond of the title. It implies traveling as fast as a streak, not leaving a streak in your wake.
  • April 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I couldn't even get behind that logic...
  • April 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I fail to see how you confuse the title that way. It is about streaks that signifies moving at high speed.
  • April 26, 2015
    randomsurfer
    [nevermind, I think I was wrong.]
  • April 26, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Okay, my brain must have flipped the words around. I thought it was "speed of streak". My goof.

    Instead we should rename it because it seems to be an alt title for Speed Stripes. The title needs to indicate this is something that trails the speeding object.
  • April 26, 2015
    DAN004
  • April 27, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That seems like a path that's a funny color, like the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz.

    Hmm, Motion Blur Wake?
  • April 27, 2015
    TonyG
    In the Daffy Duck cartoon "Draftee Daffy", Daffy runs so fast up the stairs that he leaves a fiery contrail behind him. When he then runs down the stairs, the actions is shown in reverse, except the contrail now comes from Daffy's front rather than his back.
  • April 27, 2015
    FerrousFaucet
    So, is this the same as Speed Stripes, but when the object moving becomes a stripe instead of the background? I also am not sure I understand the difference between this and Speed Echoes. Here are some examples anyway, not sure if they fit. The stars expanding in the space movies might be and example of Speed Stripes instead of this.

    Live-Action Film:

    • Star Wars: Space ships leave a subtle streak behind when entering or exiting hyperspace. From the perspective of the ship itself, the stars appear to stretch into lines instead of tiny dots of light.

    Live-Action TV:

    • Star Trek: Starships leave a streak when they go to warp speed. From the perspective of the starship itself, the stars appear the be elongated streaks separated into different wavelengths of light.

    Video Games:

    • Super Smash Bros: Sonic has a blue streak behind him when doing certain moves, such as Homing Attack. Many attacks by other characters leave a subtle streak of color behind, which is most noticeable for sword-wielding characters like Marth, Lucina, and Shulk.
  • April 27, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Speed Echoes is "Afterimages Of Speed".

    And from the look of Speed Stripes, the stripes are on the background.

  • April 27, 2015
    FerrousFaucet
    So this is the same as Speed Stripes, but the object moving is the stripes. Not the background. Another way would be to say that when the background becomes Colorful Trails Of Speed, it's called Speed Stripes. Right?
  • April 27, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Perhaps?
  • April 27, 2015
    shimaspawn
    One of the differences is that Colourful Trails Of Speed tend to linger even after the character has passed for a bit. Speed Stripes generally stop when they stop.
  • April 28, 2015
    FerrousFaucet
    Maybe. It seems to me that it's just a matter of perspective caused by the relative motion of the camera. If the camera moves with the object moving, it will cause Speed Stripes because the background will appear to be moving in relation to the camera. If the camera stays still (moving at the same speed as the background), it will cause a Colorful Trail Of Speed because the object will be moving in relation to the camera.
  • April 28, 2015
    DrNoPuma
    Web Animation
    • The Youtube meme Nyan Cat is shown flying with a rainbow trail following it.

    Western Animation
    • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger from Uncle Grandpa always leaves a rainbow trail behind her. In one episode, this trope is exploited when the other characters follow Tiger's trail to find her.
  • February 3, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    The term I'm familiar with for this is contrail. Certainly Colorful Contrails is simpler...?
  • February 3, 2016
    Chernoskill
    Videogames

    • In Homeworld, small ships like fighters leave a trail behind them that not only looks cool but also helps to see them when the camera is zoomed out.
  • February 3, 2016
    MegaMarioMan
    CommanderVideo from Bit Trip often has a yellow-orange-blue-pink-purple rainbow behind him when he moves. Like so.
  • February 3, 2016
    acrobox
    Often overlaps with Color Coded Characters
  • February 3, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    In the Superman The Animated Series episode "Speed Demons" Superman and Flash generate these when they race to make it easier for us to see where they're going and tell them apart. Superman's is blue and Flash's is red. See these in action here.
  • March 28, 2016
    NateTheGreat
    Did something happen?
  • March 28, 2016
    DAN004
    If "nothing" counts as "something" then yes, something happened.
  • 9 hours ago
    DAN004
    Pmub
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