How to do the torch light effect of the Columbia Pictures logo

Even the very early Columbia logos had an beautiful scintillating shimmer.

Look at the above from about 3:25 untill about 7:00 -- the shine from the black and white opens are better.  How can we recreate this in Hitfilm as accurately as possible? 

It's more than just a particle effect.  It looks like particles with a polar coodinate filter on top and some kind of gleam or shine.


  • It's just a Lens Flare. I recreated this look at the top of my Ghostbusters Go short. I'm still a hemisphere away from my computer, so I don't remember which flare I used, but it's really about finding a flare type with lots of distinct rays and customizing the settings. Put the flare on its own layer, larger than the main comp, so you can spin it. 

  • At 3:43 look at the top of the torch -- there are rays shooting out and returning.  Is there anything similar in Hitfilm?  

  • You can keyframe the flare. We used rotation HERE but it could just as well be flare length

  • @Davlon Using Express, I ran a quick test with the Starfield preset of the Fractal noise effect.  Added angle blur cranked up pretty high.  Messed with the Fractal Noise settings until I got semi-sparse, long streaks, then dropped Polar Warp onto it.  Keyframe the Position property of the Fractal Noise to get the movement of the particles.  The only down side is that the particles get thicker towards the edges because of how Polar Warp distorts the layer.

    Pro users could use the particle emitter, which wouldn't require the Polar Warp effect as I believe the default emitter has particles radiating out in a circle from a central point.

  • Great -- let me try that.

    While I've got you on the line, let me ask you another one.  I made a composite shot (CS for short) 200 pixels high and 2000 pixels wide. My intention is to create an effect like  falling sparks in the CS, then find a way to warp/distort/dunno-what this long strip into a circle, with both ends meeting with  a blend -- to try and create sparks shooting out from a planet graphic.

    Any clues how to pull this off?

  • 2000x2000 comp. 

    2000x200 plane. Add Fractal noise. Use the starfield preset to start. Animate the Y-offset so the stars "fall down." 

    Add a grade layer on top. Add Polar Warp to the grade. 

    Twiddle Polar Warp settings and the Position of your fractal plane till you get what you want. 


  • Oh excellent!

    But tell me -- why isn't PolarWarp directly added to the plane with the starfield-strip?  What benefit does a Grade layer serve in general?


  • @Davlon Anything below the Grade layer gets flattened so it's fully processed before applying Polar Warp. It's similar to embedding the starfield plane in a comp.

  • If you added the Polar Warp to the thin strip you wouldn't be able to see the full circle since the 2000x200 strip would be a clipping window. Doing it on the grade uses the entire square of the main comp. And it makes it easier to play with the look since you would change how the effect works by moving the strip. 

  • Okay -- assuming there is a best way to stack/order/nest composite shots, is there a chart -- or at least a page in the help file on best practices?  It would be ideal if  parallel to this would be a chart that lists the problems limitations one will encounter by using a different approach.

  • Because every situation is different, I can't think of a best-practices list for comp usage that would apply in all cases.  I've learned certain things from watching others' videos (including much of the material that @Triem23 has put together), but when it comes down to figuring out how to use comps in a new project, it ends up being part what I know from experience/study, and part experimentation.  The experimentation aspect lessens to a degree with each new project, but unless I'm doing something really simple, it's still there.  And for me, that's part of the fun, and part of what helps me learn new tricks.

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