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How to create lens flares and light leaks on set

Lately I’ve been using a few different techniques to add an extra level of depth to my shots. One of the ways I’ve been doing this by adding my own lens flares to my footage.

flaresLens flares are a natural occurrence (and sometimes an annoyance) when film in any big light source. This is most common when you are pointing you camera in the direction of the sun. There are two results from this: you can either get visible artifacts – the light will create shapes on the lens. Or, you will see a haze like effect over certain parts of the image, this creates a washed out look on screen -reduces the contrast, adds light to darker regions and lowers the overall saturation.

light leaks

There are a few ways to achieve these effects. The first, as mentioned before, is to face the direction of the sun, slowly change your angle until you start to see a lens flare appear. If your lens does not have a lens-hood, you will start to see a lens flare quickly quickly as stray light will start to enter your image.

Another way to create a light leak is to detach the lens slightly from your camera. Basically you’re creating a tiny gap that will allow a small bit of light to hit your camera sensor, or film. These light leaks are quite strong and will boost the white areas of your film – it’s a distinct look but one that can really look good. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-made effects online from a variety of vendors. These effects have been made in a studio and you can quickly integrate them into your “clean” footage during post production. You can also view my post on my favorite after effects plugins here.

If you’re filming indoors and finding a strong light source is a bit hard to find. You can always try pointing a flashlight into your lens from just outside of frame. If your lens is detached the light will creep in nicely creating a light leak. If it’s not, you will still get a cool looking lens flare on the image.

Stay tuned for more tips on how you can create interesting looking images for almost no money.

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