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Lens flares are ubiquitous. They're in commercials and promos, TV shows, and feature films. And most of the time, those flares were created with the Optical Flares plugin for After Effects.
Learn how to create your own visual effects with Optical Flares in this course with Chad Perkins. After examining how actual lens flares work in the real world, you'll explore the core features and presets you'll need to create professional lens flares. Chad also gives you a look at integrating these flares with the 3D environments in After Effects, as well as how to create your own custom flares from scratch. Plus, learn how to add animation, obscure flares with layers, dynamically trigger flares, and use them in realistic scenarios like motion graphics, lower thirds, and beauty shots.
This course was brought to you by Chad Perkins. We are honored to host this content in our library.
Now let's look at how to control optical flares using After Effects Lights. And here in this intro composition, we're going to be using three different compositions here, so make sure you're in the right one. I'm going to choose the Flare layer. This has optical flares already applied to it here for you. Just default settings, and I have a fog layer in the background just to make things a little bit more interesting. And you also have light one on the left, light two on the right. These are just Omni lights just regular point lights that just shoot out light in every direction.
It doesn't really matter too much here, but when I go back to my Flare layer. And in this positioning mode, this is the key here, not in the Optical flares option just in the regular optical flares plugin here. And the positioning mode, we're going to change the source type to Track lights. And, when we do that, all of a sudden our lights become optical flares generators. And if you notice inside the plugin, we now have a load of new options to choose from. For example, we can use light intensity.
So we can close up the flare here, I'll go back to light one here on the left. And, I can go back to, if you open up Light options, there's the intensity value. And this becomes kind of like brightness. So I can actually increase the brightness of the flare, based on the intensity value of the After Effects Light. Another thing we could do is kind of interesting we select the Flare layer again. Is we can use Scale From Intensity so as we are brightening the intensity or increasing or intensity of the light.
We are not only brightening the light or intensity of the brightness. But we are also scaling the light and all of its parameters, or rather the flare in all of its parameters, all these lens objects. Another thing that's interesting is this Use Light Color. So what we can do is change the color of this light. Again, we're not in optical flares anymore, we're actually in the After Effects Light. While changing the color of light one to red. And click OK. Now we have a red light there. Might want to take down the intensity just a little bit.
And, that's quite interesting. Another cool thing about this, is that if we go back to our flare layer we've now created two optical flares, that are really the same exact flare. Just duplicates, and we've made versions of them by changing the Light layer parameters. But as far as Optical flares is concerned, there really isn't a difference in the flare. So if I were to increase brightness or scale here in the plug-in, both of these lights would be affected.
Now we can actually go back here. I'm going to select Light one, and I'm going to hold the Shift key down on the keyboard and click Light two. So that way they're both selected. That I'm going to press Ctrl+D on the PC or Cmd+D on the Mac to create duplicates of each of those. Then I'm going to, with both light three and light four selected. Put my mouse over until I get the z icon here, and then I'm going to click and drag this back. So now we have duplicates of these lights, going back in z space.
And maybe we'll bring those up along the y axis a little bit as well. Let's do that again. Let's go ahead and press Cmd+D, duplicate those, make another copies two more copies and then move those back in z again. And maybe even a little bit more. And move those up along y. And, so we have kind of like almost like a stage light scene, because we've created all these cool lights here very quickly.
I'll bring those up just a little bit more, it's kind of bugging me a little bit. And again, we have this cool collection of 3D flares. And again, they are 3D. They are positioned in 3D space. If I select our camera here, and I select the Unified Camera tool, and right click, and scroll upwards. We're kind of zooming through the scene, wooo, into the flares. And again because optical flares is a 3D enabled plug in. As we keep going we going to start going through these cool multi irises, so we going to have this cooled washed out.
Flaring effects that happen. Really, really cool stuff. And again, this is really maximizing our efficiency because all of these flares are really still controlled by this Optical flares. If we go into our options here, and let's say we hide these multi-irises. Just get rid of the few of those and then click OK. They are all gone instantly with just one change. Now, let's look at another benefit of using optical flares with After effects light.
When I go over the Headlights column, also going to choose this Black Arrow tool again and this Selection tool. And, I have here this 3D scene, where I have these, I've already gone ahead and set these up for you. So I have these two lights and optical flares being generated by these lights here. Kind of a cute little dinky 3D scene here, our car moves forward, and our road moves, and it's kind of cool. It's kind of like a ghost car though, if we click and drag and it's just head lights there, but still kind of cool, ghost car none the less. I'm going to do that, I'm going to stop fiddling around and get to work.
I'm going to exploit the Flare layer, and what I'm going to do here is I'm going to into the options on the optical flares. Let's see if we can't get sometimes cooler than what we have here. I'm going to select Clear All, so we can start from scratch. I'll start with a glow, and maybe we could also get a little bit of a shimmer maybe. And let's go ahead and take the scale of that down, really tiny, just a little bit. And maybe the glow size as well. Then let's go ahead and add an iris object on top of that.
But I actually want the iris to be like a headlight. So what we're going to do is make sure the iris object is selected. And then we're going to go over here to Distance, and instead of changing the distance to 200, which is its default. Let's go ahead and click on here and type zero. So the iris is right there. Where the main object is. In other words it's centered on the light. And let's scroll down, still with the iris selected here, and we'll go to Object Shape and we'll change this from a polygon to a texture and click on Caustic blur.
Now we have our texture browser here, we have all kinds of cool realistic flares and light effects. So I'm actually going to choose Light > Headlight. Now we'll go ahead and click OK. And now we have an actual headlight here. I'm going to scroll back to the top. We'll increase the brightness because by default, it's kind of lowered in transparency a little bit. And so we're going to brighten that up, and now we see what kind of size we're dealing here. I might want to take the scale down a little bit. And then we get to just the shimmer and the glow until we find something that we like.
And honestly, I fiddle with this a long time before re, recording the tutorial. And I couldn't find a setting that I just really like. But I think that works for me, that looks like a headlight that's turned on. That shimmer might be a little bit bright. You can dim that a little bit. Yeah here we go. So we'll go ahead and click OK, and now that instantly applies it to both of these lights. It's a little strong. I'm going to take down the brightness. There really isn't a way to, that I've found that you can really tell what's going on, what the size of these objects is going to be with your lights.
But, we can keep fiddling with it until we get it. If it's scaling too fast for you, again you can hold the Ctrl key on a Mac. Or, I mean, excuse me, the Ctrl key on a PC or the Cmd key on a Mac while you scale, so that that it scales a little bit slower. And now, we actually have, like, real headlights here. Really kind of cool. So, we can use lights and replace them with light type objects. Technically this is not really a lens flare at all, it's really just headlights.
But we still are using optical flares to use After Effects Lights to generate this result. You really have a lot of creative freedom when you think about using After Effects Lights. With the whole host of lens objects, and custom lens objects, and textures that come with optical flares. Now, one final example is to go over to Particles Composition, again, I'm going to select my Selection tool. And we have this flare that I kind of tweaked a little bit here. I also have here some pre-rendered particles, and these particles were generated with Trap Code Particular.
And I wasn't sure that all of you that are watching this would have Trap Code Particular installed on your machine. So I actually didn't include it, I actually included a rendered version of the particles. But Trap Code Particular along with a lot of other effects will allow you to use light to be able to generate particles. Or to use them as a control or what have you, and that's exactly what I did here. So we still have this light that's emitting those particles, even though the particles are pre-rendered in this case. And the benefit of using a light to control particles, is that it moves in 3D space.
Now, this is really handy if you have Optical Flares, we could change our positioning mode to Track Lights here. And now, the flare will follow the light, which is also generating the particles. So if you were trying to link these up after the fact. If you were trying to use expressions or key frames to link this up with your lights, that wouldn't work. And so, thankfully, you can use this handy dandy trick to be able to combine optical flares with After Effects lights.
Again, so many things that you can do with this.
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