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Lighting Effects: How to Add Lens Flare Effects and Light Rays

Last Updated on Feb. 28, 2021 – by David Morgan
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How to Add Lens Flare Effects and Light Rays

Lens flares are popular lighting effects that add a touch of cinematic realism to videos and films. Letting the sun hit the camera lens at just the right angle to create a lens flare is a promising way to evoke emotion in viewers and connect them to the content in the film.

However, lens flares are challenging to achieve naturally, especially when filming in a studio with artificial lighting. Many filmmakers edit in lens flares during post-production instead, adding light effects to video clips. Read on to learn the easiest ways to use lens flare effects and add light rays to your video.

What Are Lens Flare Effects?

A lens flare effect occurs when light hits the lens of a camera and scatters throughout the components of the lens. The scattered light creates light-colored circular shapes that often overlap on the film image. Elliptical lens flares occur when filmmakers shoot with an anamorphic lens.

A lens flare can be an actual film artifact or look more like a haze across the image.

The video-editing software PowerDirector offers several types of lens flare that you can add to your video through the program’s Blending Effects.

Lens Flares in PowerDirector

Uses of Lens Flare Effects

Cinematographers use lens flare effects in their footage for several reasons.

First, adding light effects for video editing can evoke emotion in the audience, adding to the overall drama of the scene. Wedding videographers often add lens flares to showcase touching moments in the wedding ceremony and represent the emotions of those in the film.

Next, lens flares bring viewers into the scene and help them connect with the action they are watching. Picture a dark operating room with a bright spotlight shining over the patient. Adding a lens flare would emphasize the lighting of the scene and help viewers imagine the feeling of being in the operating room.

Lens flares are also aesthetically pleasing and add artistry to video clips. Adding a few to a clip of trees blowing in the wind can highlight the beauty of nature.

Lens flares can set a scene apart visually to signify a flashback, flash-forward, dream, or other-worldly occurrence. Using a lens flare effect communicates that a setting or scene is atypical, leading viewers to pay closer attention to figure out why.

Finally, if you are J.J. Abrams, you add them to everything because that’s what you do.

How to Add Lens Flares in Your Videos Using PowerDirector

PowerDirector is video-editing software that simplifies the process of adding complex video light effects, like lens flares, to footage.

To add a lens flare effect to your video with PowerDirector, follow these steps:

Step 1: Upload your video or clip into the PowerDirector editing software.

The easiest way to upload a clip is to click File in the top left corner of the page, then Import.

Step 2: Drag your clip to the bottom of the page and release it in Track 1 in the timeline.

You will now be able to edit individual frames of the clip and add overlay effects.

Step 3: On the left side of the page is a vertical column of icons that represent tools in the software. Click the fx (Effect Room) icon.

A list will appear of all of the visual effects available for you to overlay onto your clip.

Step 4: Click the All Content drop-down tab at the top of the window and select Blending Effects.

You will now see a smaller list of special visual effects.

Step 5: Select the Lens Flare or Lens Flare Blending Pack. Choose one and drag it to the bottom of the page, below your video clip, into the fx Track in the timeline.

Lens Flare added to video in PowerDirector

Your effect will appear as an overlay to your clip. You have now added a basic lens flare effect to your video clip.

How to Add Light Ray Effects in Your Videos

Instead of adding a lens flare effect, you may also consider adding light rays to your video. Many cinematographers use light rays as a transition between scenes to show the passage of time or a change in setting.

The processes to add a light ray effect overlay and to create a light ray transition between scenes are similar. Here, we will lay out the steps to add a light ray effect as a transition.

Step 1: Upload your clips into PowerDirector.

You can upload clips by clicking File in the top left corner of the window, then clicking Import.

Step 2: Click the Transition Room icon in the vertical column on the left side of the page.

The icon for this option is a lightning bolt. You can also press the F8 key on your keyboard to get to this feature.

Step 3: Scroll down toward the bottom of the effects and click Vitascene Transition, which has a thumbnail of a yellow V on a black background.

PowerDirector Vitascene Transition

You will notice that none of the listed effects says anything about light rays. Selecting Vitascene Transition will allow you to access the Vitascene family of transitions, which includes light rays.

Step 4: Drag the Vitascene Transition thumbnail down to the timeline track and release it between your two clips.

You have now added a transition effect between your desired video clips.

How to Customize Light Ray Effects in PowerDirector

Now that you’ve added the Vitascene Transition between your clips, it’s time to turn the resulting circular effect into a light ray.

PowerDirector modify Vitascene Transition

Step 1: Click the Modify button above the timeline.

A box will open that shows you the settings for the Vitascene Transition effect. You may need to drag the edge of the box to the right to expand it.

Step 2: Click the Stand-Alone Effect button under Vitascene Transition in the window that opens.

A new window will pop up with options for dozens of transitions.

Step 3: Open the Presets drop-down menu, and under Transition Group 1, select Light Ray Wipes.

Four presets will appear below the drop-down menu.

Step 4: Select the Light Ray Wipe transition you would like to use.

PowerDirector modify Vitascene Transition lightray wipe

You can click the Play triangle on the right of the window to preview the effect in your clips.

Step 5: Customize the Specialization settings to create your desired effect.

You can alter a variety of settings ranging from length to threshold to exposure. Play around with each one until you are satisfied with the results.

Step 6: Click the X in the top right corner to save your changes and close the pop-up window.

You can now review the final product in the playback window. If you would like to make any changes to the transition, follow the steps to edit the Vitascene Transition again.

If you would like the light ray effect to appear as an overlay rather than a transition between scenes, you will need to split the video at the timestamp that you would like the effect to appear, then add the transition between your two pieces.

PowerDirector: Captivate Your Audience with Special Lighting Effects

Aside from lens flares and light rays, PowerDirector offers a variety of easy-to-use lighting effects for video editing that will make your film pop.

One effect you may want to try is the BorisFX Lights BBC Rays Streaky Effect. This overlay adds dream-like light streaks to your video clip that almost make it appear like a hallucination by the viewer, or person whose point of view the scene is from. This effect adds a unique exposure to the scene that indicates bright sunlight.

To add an intense pop of light, try the Lightning Effect. You can centralize the lightning to a single location to create a magical element for one of your on-screen characters or imitate a lightning storm.

>Other video effects that you will find in PowerDirector include options such as:
  • Magnifier: Zooms in on a circular segment of the clip
  • Tilt Shift: Blurs out part of the screen to focus on a central element
  • Time Stamp: Adds a timer to the clip
  • Water Reflection: Creates a reflective ripple effect to imitate water

Though PowerDirector comes with hundreds of effects, you might also choose to purchase add-ons to broaden your options. The Light Leak Overlay pack includes 48 light leak and flare effects to soften your video clip, add drama, or create a magical effect.

To install this pack, click on the Application Manager, review your Packs, and then click Install next to the Light Leak Overlay Pack option.

You can download PowerDirector for Windows, Apple, or Android to edit videos on a desktop or mobile device.

Final Thoughts

Adding a lens flare or light ray is an easy yet effective way to elevate your video. These effects can add drama, connect viewers to your storyline, or indicate a change from the norm in your film.

Download PowerDirector 19 and other video editing products today from Cyberlink to try these effects for yourself.

If you're an aspiring editor looking to create cool videos, head on over to our complete guide on video editing effects. We've also got other great articles in our blog that'll introduce you to all the tools you need to enhance your portfolio.

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