Lens Flares are effects I use on probably a daily basis, and I always seem to find myself going back to the same four effects over and over again. For this this mini-review, I’d talk about the Lens Flare effects that I use on an almost daily basis, and what I like about these FX.
Knoll Light Factory
Knoll Light Factory comes to us courtesy of Red Giant, and you can pick it up in one of two configurations: The full version is part of the Effects Suite, or you can pick it up on its own for $199. There is a lite version that comes as part of Red Giant Universe, which is $99 per year, as part of a subscription.
You’ll notice right away how photo-realistic these flares look, and you’ll probably also notice that the interface is not bogged down with parameters. It’s fairly simple and straightforward. By hitting the “Options” button in After Effects, you’re now brought to the Knoll Light Factory Lens Designer, where you can create your own Flares in their easy to use tool!
BCC Lens Flare 3D
Boris Continuum Complete Lens Flare 3D is my workhorse effect, and I’ve used it countless times in my productions. I like that there are some super realistic looking flares, and I like the that there are unique ways to apply them to the footage in your timelines/comps. Whether it’s based on Built in Lights, Luminance values, Edge Maps, Location Maps, Comps, or AE Masks, one thing you have more than anything in this effect is flexibility.
There are also a lot of stylistic effects to add inside the effect UI including parameters, such as Fog, that really give your lighting effects a cool look to them. All of this, plus the super easy to navigate FX Browser, make creating and saving your lens flares quick and simple.
Video Copilot has made its name producing a few standout, standalone effects, that are really worth the money! The standard bundle ($124.95 US) comes with the effect (Optical Flares) and sixy presets for you to choose from. The Pro Bundles 1 & 2 add an additional fifty lens flares in each package at $25 and $45 USD, respectively.
Why should you take notice of this Lens Flare package? Andrew Kramer and the Video Copilot team has used Optical Flares in feature films, including Star Trek Beyond, and the flares have been used in countless movie trailers and TV spots. When it comes to realism, these flares are second to none! If you’re going to purchase Optical Flares, make sure you pick it up with the Pro Bundles, as the flare presets that are added really take the flares to the next level.
Sapphire Lens Flare
I have been really impressed with Sapphire’s Lens Flare Effect, as for me, it’s all about presets. And not only do Sapphire’s Lens Flares look super realistic, but there are also a ton of presets that come standard with the Lens Flare effect, right out of the gate (147)! One thing you’ll notice and appreciate about Sapphire Lens Flare effect is the super intuitive Flare Builder tool that will have you building your own flares quickly and easily, in no time flat!
Now, you’re probably thinking that you don’t want to pay the almost $2000 for the full version of Sapphire, and as luck would have it, you don’t need to anymore. Now Boris FX (the new owners of GenArts), has taken Sapphire, and broken it down into “Units,” much like BCC is available in units. And you can pick up the “Lighting” Unit, which includes 14 effects, including Lens Flare, for $595, which is a massive savings off the full bundle.
In the end, these are all excellent effects, and the best way to check them out is by downloading the free demo. But be aware that Video Copilot doesn’t offer a free demo version, so if you’re thinking about picking it up, you’ll just have to jump in head first and go for it!