How to Create and Use Lens Flare in Adobe After Effects

show more Creating and using lens flares provides you with in-depth training on Video. Taught by Chad Perkins as part of the After Effects CS5 Essential Training show less
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Creating and using lens flares

One really common visual element that you see all over the place - it's really trendy, it actually was trending a long time ago, and it wasn't in trend, but now it's coming back in style again - is something called a Lens Flare. Let me show you what this looks like, and then we'll talk about it. My layers are pretty full right here, so instead of having a blank area in the Timeline - which is what I usually have - I was just going to go to like a blank spot to right-click, like right here. This works, right to the left of the layers name and icons. I'll just right-click here to get the pop-up menu, or we could say New > Solid there.

I'm going to Make Comp Size, and I'm going to click and make sure the Color is black. You can tell that's pure black if the RGB values are 0, 0, 0. So, I'm going to go ahead and click OK and OK. I'm going to apply the Lens Flare effect from the Effects & Presets panel to this Black Solid layer. This, my friends, is a Lens Flare. You can see, basically, there is the main flare, and then this kind of like stuff that kind of comes off of the lens flare. And as we grab the effect control point here and click around, you could see that all the way that the light is hitting the virtual lens changes as well.

What this is doing is it's a mimicking the phenomena that happens when a camera looks at a very bright light source, like the sun. It kind of likes with motion blur. Our eyes are just so adapted to the way that a video camera takes in light, that we're used to seeing all these extra little bells and whistles - all these little squiggles of light - from lens flares. So, people will use these all the time for compositing, if you want to create like a fake sun, if you want to create some kind of powerful star or something. And we're going to use it on top of the wizard as if he is going to create a big bolt of lightning. And the lightning, we're actually going to create in the next video by this big bolt of lightning out of these hands.

The problem, of course, is that we have this black background. Unlike other effects, Lens Flare does not replace the layer it is applied to. Now we can blend with the original, see this Blend With Original value and increase this, but this is just going to blend it with black. That's not going to do any good. Oh. Be aware, also, that we can play with the Flare Brightness, take this down and up, which we'll do momentarily, as well. There are different types of Lens Flares based on different types of lenses. So, 50 to 300mm Zoom Lens would create this type of lens flare.

35mm Prime would create this type of lens flare, approximately. And there is a 105mm Prime that would apparently create this type of lens flare. I don't find this to be exact, but this will give you ballpark idea of what these flares give you a play with. Now here is how we're going to get rid of this black. It's through something called Blend modes, which we looked at in the Galaxy tutorial a little while back, and which we will, again, look at little bit later on this training series. But first, a quick sneak peek at them, go ahead and click this Toggles Switches/Modes button until you see the mode, T, Track Matte area.

In the Normal dropdown - click that - this gives you a list of all the different blend modes. These are the way that we can take this layer and blend this layer with the stuff beneath it. The mode that we're going to use is the Add Blend mode. The Add Blend mode will remove black, and it will also make everything that's on the flare brighter as it mixes with the layers beneath. So, go ahead and click Add, and there we go. So, it's little bit more of a subtle effect, as far as like seeing all the details of the rings and circles, but still a very cool happening that we have here.

We're getting these rings, and this wizard definitely is ready for his powerful lightning strike. Again, we can take down the Brightness if that's little bit too much for you, which is fine. It's all matter of personal taste here. We can also increase the Brightness above 100% if we want to go that route, and of course, just like most properties in After Effects, it's animatable. So, we can change it over time if we wanted to, but that's very cool little wizard apocalypse there. I want to this back down to around 100%. We have some cool rings that are kind of popping off here.

If you didn't like that, you can change to one of the other lens types that don't have as much of the rings as the default 5300mm Zoom does, but looking pretty good. Now let's go to create some of the lightning coming out of his hands.

Creating and using lens flares
Video duration: 4m 21s 8h 39m Beginner


Creating and using lens flares provides you with in-depth training on Video. Taught by Chad Perkins as part of the After Effects CS5 Essential Training

After Effects
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