In April the Video Copilot publisher launched the the Nuke version of the famous Optical Flares plugin. This is great news for everyone since this plugin was previously only available through After Effects. In addition to this, new tools have been announced!
For those of you who don’t yet know this tool, we’ll guide you through it! And as an added bonus, you will get the opinions of ArtFx students have used this plugin in After Effects.
What exactly is a Lens Flare?
A Lens Flare is parasite light which appears on different lenses (of cameras and video cameras). This phenomenon appears when a source of light directly touches in the camera. A parasol limits the risks of flares. They are often considered errors because they cover certain parts of the image. When filming, except when the director or camera man wants something particular, everyone tries to avoid lens flares, because without them the subsequent steps (integration of green screen footage, 3D tracking,etc.) are easier.
However, if one films someone in front of a green screen and the image that replaces the screen has a strong light source, a Lens Flare is necessary to create a realistic image.
So, the Lens Flare is utilized for purely aesthetic reasons by many directors, or motion graphic designers. We are going beyond the physical and real dimension to enter the aesthetics of an image. The Lens Flare brings, for example, a futuristic dimension to light (blue and very horizontal Lens Flares), or better yet a warm feeling (round, red or orange lights in an outside setting). The Lens Flare can also accentuate the intensity of the light, make it creepy or blinding.
The examples and applications for the Lens Flare are numerous!
To add a Lens Flare in post-production, it is conceivable to film in a darkroom. But, the usage of these images will not always be evident. If the shot in which the Lens Flare is added is moving, this becomes very complicated because the Lens Flare varies enormously based on the impact of the light on the lens (variations of intensity, forms, colors….).
It is therefore here that Optical Flares arrive and save the Compositing artist!
Optical Flares plugin
Within a shot, the Optical Flares plugin is used to create and animate the Lens Flares, in either a realistic or purely aesthetic way. Thanks to it, we can simulate the source of light on a real or virtual camera. The plugin then reproduces the physical effects of the diffusion of light on a lens.
It has an impressive number of Lens Flare pre-sets that one can then modify and use to personalize his Flare. It is important not to stick to the pre-set if one wants to produce an original image or if the Lens Flare is an integral part of what the image has to say.
The plugin also offers many textures in order to enhance the developed Lens Flare, to simulate a lens that isn’t exactly clean, with some light dust, small stains….all the elements which allow a Lens Flare to ‘stick’ to a filmed image.
On the Video Copilot publisher’s website, you can find a very expansive tutorial for exploring all the resources of this plugin.
The Nuke version
This is a version developed exclusively for Nuke. The integration was pushed rather far with specific tools and around an advanced dialogue with Nuke, especially the possible usage of its 3D space. The choice of not making the plugin in an Open FX format (OFX) allowed these feats. The development of that version would have taken around 2 years.
Additionally, developing this plugin for Nuke allowed Linux users to have access. It was previously reserved for After Effects so usage was limited to Windows and Mac OSX. This is therefore good news for Linux enthusiasts, like the ArtFx community!
Discover Optical Flares for Nuke.
ArtFx students’ opinions
After several weeks of using Optical Flares for Adobe After Effects, ArtFx students share their opinions about the plugin.
Valentin Tuil, 4th year student:
« With a specific interface that integrates itself in After Effects, it is extremely easy to create complex and personalized lens flares , thanks to the numerous lens objects integrated in the plugin. Optical Flares integrates a good number of dust options so that controlling flickering, 3D positioning, motion blur, lens textures (which guide the position of the flare), the usage of ‘foreground layers’ allows us to dynamically hide the flare and the chromatic aberration…
Faithful to the Video Copilot philosophy which offers that are powerful, yet easy to use, Optical Flares knew how to respond to users demands with amazingly flexible application options. »
Ludovic Fregé, 4th year student:
« Optical Flares is a really powerful plugin once one manipulates it a little. By default, the Flares are oriented for motion graphic design and do not seem adjustable to make more realistic flares. However, when one gets away from the presets, one can very quickly make completely convincing flares and integrate them in live-action footage.
The only drawback, until now, was that it was only available for After Effects. This software is not the best option for the complex compositing that we typical work on at ArtFx. To our delight, the team of Andrew Kramer developed Optical Flares for Nuke. I’m very excited to work with this new version! »
Check back later for more images from the students using Optical Flares…
Examples of Optical Flares applications
For more information
[small_button]English version by Danielle Harrell, English teacher for ArtFx[/small_button]