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The lens flare I have created has been added to the presets library which I will link to at the end. I haven't included all the settings but rather given you a general overview about specific parts, so download the preset after you're done reading to see for yourself how it all ticks.
This tutorial applies EffectsLab DV, EffectsLab Pro and VisionLab HD. I'm using EffectsLab Pro specifically to create the tutorial and preset.
1. Locate the 'Effect' tab and add an Optic engine to the canvas, you can do this by double clicking on it or click+drag onto the canvas or the timeline.
2. Click on the 'Optic movement' track on the timeline. You will notice a square box 'handle' appears on the canvas. This is the origin for the lens flare. Currently it is located in the center of the canvas, click and drag it to move it near one of the edges, I've placed mine in the top left, but basically move it away from the center to begin.
The optics shapes you add are based along a line, which always runs through the center of the canvas irrespective of where the origin handle is. This is what happens in the real world when you move the camera lens in relation to a light source. To illustrate this point I've drawn lines on the canvas below.
3. Now we're going to start adding shapes to build up our effect. The way I've done my other presets is by starting on the main flare, then adding the secondary flares after. On the timeline, click on the 'Optic shapes' track, this brings up the attributes window in the toolbox. Click on the 'Circle: filled' to add the first shape. I think we'll do a funky blue flash type flare, so click on the color (default as red) and set it to the colors similar to this. Note you can use more than one color.
The shapes in the optics engine are actually greyscale, they are colored either using a single color, or a range of colors which stretch over the range of grey. Taking the example of a palm tree, the image has been desaturated meaning the RGB (red, green, blue) channels are all the same. The range stretches from white to black as you can see by the gradient below the image. Mapping different colours onto this gradient changes how the image is colored, as you can see I've changed white -> green, and black -> blue. You can see where there was white before, its now green, where it was black, its now blue. And the greyscale range between these extremes have a mixture of both green and blue.
Back to our 'Circle: filled' shape, its still looking a bit odd, so lets change the radius to 20, and the outer feather to 131.
4. Now that we have a start, lets add a Spike: star. I've chosen six sides, meaning six points on the star. The width refers to the number of lines which make up each point. I've reduced the brightness of the shape so that the lines appear finer. This trick works with all of the spike shapes.
5. Now we'll add a bit of a burst by adding two 'Spike: fan' shapes; both have 34 sides, meaning 34 lines emitted from the shape. The fan has an angle, defaulting to 0 degrees, the aperture is the angle range plus and minus from this angle. I've given the fan an aperture of 50 degrees.
Some of the variables used in the effects are created using a random function. Using a simple example, picking 5 random numbers from 1 to 100, the result might be 3, 87, 45, 32, 65. If you 'seed' this function with a number, seed=1, the 5 random numbers will be the same every time, changing the seed number creates a different set of random numbers. Tweening this 'seed' over time will cause the effect to change.
6. I still don't think our flare has enough energy, so I'm going to add a couple of 'Line' shapes. Multicoloring them to white ----> blue, like we did for the filled circle in the beginning. I've rotated the lines so that they cover up some of the star spikes, this makes it look like that star is even brighter.
7. To make our flare glow, I'm now going to add a Circle: gradient to cover the whole thing. Wow, ok, that’s looking quite good now. Onto the secondary flares.
8. As I explained earlier the Optic engine runs along this line which extends both sides from the origin going through the center of the canvas. The secondary flare shapes we're going to add next will all run along this line. Since we have a six-sided star, I'm going to use six-sided polygon shapes, but you could use circles or whatever you like.
Click on the 'Polygon' to add it, when it appears its located in the center of our main flare. To move it, change the distance to 62, this is where I'm going to place the first polygon. I don't want these secondary flares to appear too sharp and clear, so I'm going to add some Shape blur, and also adjust the transparency down to about 25. The color of these secondary flares can vary from the main flare, but I'm going to stick to blue/purple colours myself.
9. Add a few more polygons, varying the distance, size, color and transparency until you think you have enough, I've stopped at 5. The end result is a finished flare, now its just figuring out a name, I've decided on Cobalt Crash, and save it as a preset.
See the full sized flare here
Find the preset here
It's also worth mentioning some of the options which I have not used in this Optic effect.
Offset x/y - As I mentioned, the Optic effect runs along this line; you can offset the shape away from this line by changing these variables. As you move the origin about you will notice that the shape sticks to this offset distance.
Controlled/Static - If you have the shape, e.g. a 'Line' set to "controlled", when you click on 'Optic movement' and rotate the entire shape, the 'Line' will also rotate along with the whole shape, set the 'Line' to static, and it will stay at the angle set within the shape.
Can you use the Optic engine for anything other than lens flares?
Having watched Battlestar Galactica 2003 recently I decided to try and recreate the ship 'jumping' effect, using the principles I've laid out in the above tutorial. For those of you not familiar with the show, the spaceships have to perform some sort of hyper light jump, which on screen looks like a few flashes.
Here's a little movie of what I've come up with
The presets for this is in two parts, so make sure you get A and B
Battlestar Jump... Part A
Battlestar Jump... Part B
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, if you have any further questions or perhaps an idea for another tutorial let me know.