Adding Lens Flares in Post: A Guide on What Not to Do
Adding lens flares in post can go wrong...very, very wrong.
The lens flare can be one of two things: 1.) an effective cinematic tool that brings beauty and style to a shot, or 2.) an ugly, blobby mess that makes your work look amateurish. Assuming that you want to avoid the latter, DP Matti Haapoja of Travel Feels shares a bunch of tips on how to find high quality lens flare assets, as well as use them so they add to your project's aesthetic look and overall production value. Check out his video below:
Haapoja's tips are a great starting point for anyone who isn't very familiar with this process, and because there are so many variables that go into designing the look you want, perhaps its more helpful to talk about what not to do when adding lens flares in post. So, here are a few words of caution that you should keep in mind:
Don't use low quality assets
You can find lens flare assets for free all over the internet, but many times (but not all the time) they're going to lack in the quality department. Try to find assets that were captured in-camera rather than created in a computer program. This might mean you have to fork over some money, but it might be worth it in the long run.
Don't forget to pay attention to light direction
Where is the light in your shot coming from? You'll need to pay attention to this detail, because it will inform your decision on which lens flare asset you're going to use and/or where you're going to place it.
Don't forget to customize
Adding lens flares is not set it and forget it kind of deal; you're going to have to do some editing, whether it's adjusting the size, opacity, color, contrast, or all of the above. In the end, your lens flare should blend in with the rest of your shot.
Don't be afraid to use lens flares
I know, lens flares have kind of been overused in recent years, but that's no reason to avoid using them in your own work, especially considering how much they can add to the look of a shot. Just make sure that your decision to use them is motivated (J.J. Abrams).
What are some other things filmmakers should consider when adding lens flares to their projects? Let us know in the comments below.