Article Focus: In this article, CreativeCOW leader, Aharon Rabinowitz takes thorough look at Red Giant Software's Knoll Light Factory Pro 2.5.
I once read an article on 10 do's and don'ts for demo reels. At the top of the list for Don'ts was "Don't use Lens flares." On the same side of that coin, when I was working at an animation house, my department head told me he hated lens flares. When pressed, he admitted that it wasn't flares he hated but the blatant and non-creative use of flares that he saw in a lot of reels.
An example of poor flare usage. (We all know we've done it at least once.)
That said, I'm a flare junkie. And in the motion graphics world like it or not, you have to use them - a lot. It's all about the flash, and nothing is flashier than a lens flare. The thing is that, at the heart of it, I don't disagree with that 10 things article or my department head. Using any effect or look in an non-creative way, or even using a canned effect creatively, yields the same result for the viewer: "Been there. Done that."
So what's the solution? Well, when a limited toolset yields limited results, it's time for a better toolset. And when it comes to lens flares no one does it better than Red Giant Software's Knoll Light Factory.
Some basic examples of Red Giant's Knoll Lens Flare usage.
In version 2.5, its latest incarnation, Knoll Light factory has seen some major improvements over previous versions, both over and under the hood. While 2.0 had some great flares, it was slow. The latest release takes advantage of you're graphics card's hardware acceleration and delivers major speed improvements.
The new GPU (Open GL) option in Knoll Light Factory 2.5
Unfortunately, for me, there was a hitch: I tested this plug-in on my main desktop which has an nVidia Quadro 3000, a mid-level video card, and couldn't get GPU acceleration. To be fair, the card is not supported by After Effects 7 it never has been, and it's not something I usually think to much about. In this case, however, it was a real liability because the hardware acceleration for Light Factory was unavailable on that machine.
However, that said, I also tested the plug-in on my laptop which has an nVidia 6800 Go a low-end card used more for gaming than anything else. I didn't actually think it would work, but I figured why not give it a test, right? To my surprise, I started up AE, and Graphics acceleration kicked in - here are the results:
When I played back a simple lens flare animation (non-RAM preview), it ran at about 10 FPS However, with GPU acceleration, I was seeing about 15-18 FPS of playback (Non-RAM preview) and much faster RAM Previews It was certainly faster than my desktop (no acceleration) which is a significantly more powerful machine. So if you've got card at mid level, you should see marked increase in performance.
Another new feature in Knoll Light Factory is integrated Alpha Generation, which means that you can create a lens flare that has it's own alpha channel, so it can be composited later. While I don't think I'll be using this much myself, I've seen a bunch of posts here at the cow asking about that very sort of thing, so I though it bared mentioning.
Knoll Light Factory Pro 2.5 has the ability to create an alpha channel for your lens flares. Just add the effect to a solid and choose "Use Unmult" option.
Also, rather than resting on their laurels, and leaving the effects as is, there have been 25 new flare effects presets added. I can't say that all of them are perfect, and some are downright bizarre, but like all of the previous lens flares they are fully customizable, which is the real value in a plug-in like this.
Knoll Light Factory Pro 2.5 comes with 70 Flare types (25 of which are new to this version). Some are standard fare while others are quite interesting.
OK, so those are the major improvements, but let's talk general features so you can get a better idea of the product overall.
Knoll Light Factory 2.5 Pro includes several tools that take into account how much control you want to have and how much time you want to put into it.
For those people like myself who really like to take control of things, Knoll Light Factory (The base plug-in) allows you complete access to every lens flare property, via the Lens Editor. And any changes you make or new looks you create can be saved and added to the library for later use.
The lens editor gives you total control over the look and feel of your lens flares. You can save any changes you make as new presets.
On the other hand if you've got a fast turn around time, or just want to add the basic effect, Light Factory EZ is you're tool of choice giving you instant access to the 70 flare types that ship with the plug-in. You can still make changes to a lot of the look, but some of the more advanced controls are missing.
Knoll Light Factory EZ gives you access to all 70 flare types, but without the advanced parameters found in Light Factory.
Also, if you want to simulate many lens flares at once, tracking may points or just creating shimmering particle effects, Light Factory Spectacular gives you the ability to do that.
Knoll Light Factory Spectacular allows you to create multiple lensflares based on alpha channels and brightness. In this example, the effect was combined with CyCore Effects' CC Star Burst to create 2 different effects.
Finally, if you want access to just one or 2 elements of a lens flare (A knoll lens flare being made up of about 20 separate elements), Light Factory Elements let's you do just that.
There are 19 flare Elements that can be creates separately for different effects.
That said, In all of this, one notable feature is the ability to use an obscuration layer basically, you can use the alpha channel of an existing layer to block out the lens flare, so that if something passes in front of the source point, the lens flare dims or disappears entirely. This saves a lot of time in animation, while giving a realistic effect. This has been in the plug-in since the earliest versions, and continues to be my favorite feature.
So, for the plug-in itself ($349 Download/$399 Box), I'm going to give it 5 Cows. I've always loved lens flares and Light Factory has always delivered the best of that, along with immense flexibility. For the upgrade ($99/$129), I'm torn I like some of the new flares, and speed is always important, but for some, that might not justify the upgrade. Since the speed comes from hardware, I'm giving the upgrade 3 cows for those on older or weaker video cards, but 4.5 for those on newer hardware since they'll get the most benefit.
By the way if you want to get up and running fast (though the plug-in is fairly intuitive), Red Giant offers a Training DVD for Knoll Light Factory Pro and Editors ($79), which you can purchase at www.redgiantsoftware.com. The package includes a DVD meant for your home theater DVD player, and another DVD containing the same content but designed to play on you computer.
Note: At the time of writing this article, GPU support was not available on the nVidia QuadroFX 3000, due to a hardware issue. This issue was discovered through my interaction with the Red Giant Support team, and as it turns out, it is only an issue with this card. Therefore, the software may actually support many older cards, such as the QuadroFX 1500. Please check the Red Giant Website (redgiantsoftware.com) for more details.
If you found this page from a direct link, please visit our forums or read other articles at CreativeCOW.net
In his latest high-energy Adobe After Effects tutorial, VFX guru Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio combines a variety of effects to create the pulsating energy ball, composited with motion tracking, optical flares, and more.
In this intermediate tutorial, Mocha Product Manager Martin Brennand takes you through smoothing the horizon in a Samsung Gear 360 shot using the Reorient Module in Mocha VR. Jittery 360 video footage can be made more watchable by stabilizing with Mocha’s planar tracking tools. The tutorial is done via the Adobe After Effects plug-in, but the techniques apply to all versions of Mocha VR.
The April 2017 release of Adobe After Effects (version 14.2) is packed with new features, and Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio is here to show you the latest and greatest. Highlights include the Essential Graphics panel and Motion Graphics templates (with Adobe Premiere Pro integration), the addition of Lumetri Scopes and Color Correction effects, new effects organization, the Camera Shake Deblur filter and more.
Learn how to create complex title animations in Adobe After Effects! In my last tutorial I covered how to create, customise and animate simple titles in Adobe Premiere Pro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xQtq...
In this tutorial we will take things one step further and create titles that are too complex to create with Premiere alone. We will be working with and customising presets, creating character by character animations and we will look at the power of custom Text Animators.
Want to learn more about how to animate text? Check out the Adobe help page:
Imagineer mocha Pro 5 Plug-in for Adobe brings all the amazing features of the professional version of the mocha Planar Tracker directly into After Effects and Premiere Pro in the form of a plugin. In this in-depth review, After Effects tutorial guru Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio will show you what you can do with this new plug-in, and discuss what he likes and doesn't like about the new update.
Learn why you should upgrade to After Effects CC 2015.3 - 13.8.1 - a close and detailed look at the latest release of After Effects (August 2016). Roei Tzoref will be focusing on his favorite features that set this release apart from previous versions: Performance, Queue in AME, Lumetri Color new features, and more.
Some of the coolest stuff you can do inside of Adobe After Effects is only possible once you unlock the power of masks. Join After Effects whiz Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio to learn about mask animation and interpolation, using the variable width feathering tool, managing mask modes and ordering, and more.
Got problems using Adobe After Effects? Exported files too large, Expressions not working, mixing shapes and makes, modes/switches, selecting previews for layers vs. comps - Surfaced Studio's Tobias Gleissenberger shows you fast fixes for these and more!
Want to learn how to create advanced visual effects? Learn how to use mocha AE to track your shot and add advanced visual effects to live action footage inside Adobe After Effects. mocha can help you track shots that would be hard to track using traditional 2D point or feature trackers because it is a PLANAR TRACKER. A planar tracker uses planes and textures to track as opposed to points or groups of pixels. This allows the tracker to stay on track even if your shot contains motion blur or a very shallow depth of field. mocha AE comes included with Adobe After Effects and is available since CS3 and there is no reason for you not to use this awesome tool to make it easier for you to track your shot, replace screens or rotoscope!
Learn how to make Adobe After Effects faster by using PROXIES! A proxy is a placeholder that stands in place for a very large video file or image sequence in your project. You can easily create proxies for the large source files that you are using and After Effects will automatically link them to the item in your project panel.