Video editing & visual effects

HitFilm Pro

HitFilm Pro

Create mind-blowing VFX with the industry’s biggest VFX toolkit. HitFilm Pro comes with 870+ powerful visual effects, 3D camera tracking, particle simulation, and everything you need to produce professional VFX from start to finish.

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New Release: Imerge Pro 2021.3

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How to create custom lens flares in HitFilm Pro

Learn how to create cinematic lens flares from scratch using the Custom Light Flares effect inside HitFilm Pro. With over 60 presets to choose from, and fully customizable settings, you'll always be able to add the flair your footage deserves.

The Custom Light Flares effect was added in the last major release of HitFilm Pro. This effect is jam-packed with tons of customizable settings allowing you to create your very own light flares! There are over 60 pre-made presets ready for you to use, and you can dive into each one and adjust every element to make it your own. The original Light Flares effect requires the stacking of multiple effects to create complex results and can be limited in the customization you’re able to achieve. However, the new Custom Light Flares effect allows for much more complex effects, all within a single control panel. Let’s take a look at this new effect and how it can add some flair to your footage.

How to add a flare to your footage

The Custom Light Flares effect comes with 60+ built-in presets to get you started. These presets were created based on reference material of real lens flares – some of which were inspired by popular movies and shows. 

How to create custom lens flares in HitFilm Pro - the impact of adding light flares to your footage

To add a lens flare to your footage:

  1. First, track a 2D point layer to a point on your clip that is visible throughout the entire scene – This point will allow the light flare to follow the movement. Here’s a tutorial showing you how to motion track.
  2. Then, create a new black plane layer. 
  3. To this layer, apply the Custom Light Flares effect and set the layer’s blend mode to Add to blend the flare with your footage. 
  4. Attach the flare to one of the tracked points and set its Center coordinates, found in the Hotspot Position settings, to zero. 
  5. To choose a preset and customize the flare, click the options button.
  6. Once you have chosen a preset, select it and hit apply. 

If you still need to adjust the flare’s appearance, simply click the options button, navigate to the Controls tab and make the desired amendments.

How to to create your own flare

How to create custom lens flares in HitFilm Pro - light flare settings

The built-in presets cover a wide variety of flare styles and looks. But if you have something specific in mind, you can create a bespoke light flare from scratch! Every flare is made up of various pieces called elements, and there are three element types to choose from:

  •  Spot: A spot is a bright point within the flare, and is most often used as the center hotspot. 
  • Rays: Rays are the lines that emanate outward from the center. 
  • Iris: An Iris element represents the flare reflecting off the inside of a camera lens and can come in many shapes and sizes. 

There are also various element presets for quickly getting a specific look.

When creating a custom flare, it is often good practice to look at reference material and dissect the elements that make up the final flare. Referencing real light flares will help your own flare to look more realistic. Every element has their own controls to fully customize the shape, size, brightness, color, and behavior of that element. You can add radial deformation to add variation, radial masks to control the shape, and even dynamic transformations to alter the flare based on its position within the frame. The iris element comes with some real-world textures to add even more detail and realism.

 When you are happy with your flare effect, you can save it as your own custom preset so you can load up those same settings in any project. To save your preset, right-click the preset you started with and select Save As. Now your preset will appear in your preset browser whenever you use the Custom Light Flares effect!

How to recreate a light flare

How to create custom lens flares in HitFilm Pro - reference material vs a custom light flare

Now that we know the Custom Light Flares effect basics let’s look at how to recreate a light flare from a movie. This image is from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and was the inspiration for one of our presets. The key to recreating a flare like this is to break it down into small pieces instead of looking at the flare as a whole.

How to create custom lens flares in HitFilm Pro - custom light flare settings

The first three elements are all spot elements, which create the center hotspot of the flare. You can adjust the Gamma for a more realistic falloff on the glow and can use the Radial Deformation feature to create light rays. The following five elements are all Rays elements to create the main horizontal streaks. You can create variation in color and brightness by using duplicate elements with different settings. Additional elements can also be used to introduce more color to the effect. The next few elements are all Iris elements, each adjusted to replicate a different small detail from the reference material. The Color Gradient slider goes from the center of the Iris to the outer edge. This can be used to add color variation, or to create ring shapes.

For anamorphic flares, make sure to use the Aspect Ratio control to squeeze or stretch the elements. Every element also has its own Blend Mode, giving you further control over how each element combines with the rest. There are many different controls to customize each element, allowing you to replicate the smallest detail of your favorite flares.

If you want your light flares to truly shine, try out the Custom Light Flares effect in HitFilm Pro. If you don’t own Pro, you can still try the effect for free in the HitFilm Pro demo. See you next time!

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Hannah Odebode

Hannah Odebode

Hey! I'm Hannah, the intern! I'm the person that gets to answer all of your questions and respond to your lovely comments on our socials. I have a great love for all things thriller/horror-film related and my favorite film as of yet is Parasite. 😊
Hannah Odebode

Hannah Odebode

Hey! I'm Hannah, the intern! I'm the person that gets to answer all of your questions and respond to your lovely comments on our socials. I have a great love for all things thriller/horror-film related and my favorite film as of yet is Parasite. 😊