Lens Flare on 3D Lights?

After Effects lights can be moved around in 3D space but a lens flare effect can only move in 2D space on the X and Y axis. So how can you add a 2d lens flare to a 3D moving light?

The secret is using a simple expression on the “Flare Center” of the lens effect.

1. Alt Click on Flare Center stop watch to add expression

2. Type this in the expression box:

thisComp.layer(“Light 1“).toComp([0,0,0]);

NOTE: Just change “Light 1” to the name of your light.

This tip can be found in the bump map tutorial around 6:15 for those who would like to see it in action. View Tutorial

Dan Ebberts has an ever useful “3D Lens Flare” case study on his website that includes distance falloff. Check that out.

Here is an anamorphic lens flare project too.

POSTED:
11 years ago
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54 Comments

5 years ago
For anyone having problems with this I believe the expression has been updated:

L = thisComp.layer("Light 1")
LCP = L.toComp([0,0,0,]);

Use this and it should attach your flares directly to your lights.
Akira
6 years ago
Hi
Can you parent the light on the flare's position?
Or
Can I change 'z' without changing the 'x' and 'y'?
Please reply!!
Kyle
7 years ago
Every time I try to do this I get an "After Effects warning: Syntax error Expression disabled."

This expression seems like it should be simple enough to do? Anyone else getting this problem??
Archayl
7 years ago
Thanks! This tips helps me out a lot!
Theo K..
8 years ago
This expression is incredibly helpful. I'm inspired to start learning more about expressions also. Thank you so much.
8 years ago
thanks for ur help
giantsand
10 years ago
Oh! He also thinks your saying "butt mapping".... awesome!
giantsand
10 years ago
Andrew... gotta tell you. My 2 sons (7 and 9) have been watching your tutorials with me. Today my youngest was watching the 3D lens flair tut with me and when you got to the semicolon at the end of the expression, he said emphatically (with a 4 missing front teeth lisp)... "HE'S GOOD!! Did he go to school a lot?". I replied "He IS the school".

Anyway... seems your impressing even the youngest of audience and hopefully some future compositors.

Keep cookin'
10 years ago
MMM,, I have a problem whith this expression. Im importing a 3d camera form 3dMax whith MAX2AE.... the imported 3d camera must have the AUTOORIENTATION OFF.... and wen this option is active on any After Effect camera, the expression not work......

any idea??.. thanks man, you rally are the zen master of this stuff.

hugo, from Chile
tyrone the bamboozle
11 years ago
goood yall good gravy yall this is the fanatabulos i am likin it much okay bybey!
blark
11 years ago
thanks man. its really a cool tip.you folks have been helping me alot.
Jhon
11 years ago
Thank u Andrew! ;)
omid akbari
11 years ago
Thanks for the tip
The Rover
11 years ago
Great !

Can this somehow work with Advanced lightning?
jo
11 years ago
I've tested that trick after seeing the bump tutorial but for having much control of my flare i didn't use the classic lensflare fx but one from the genart's saphire wich allowed me to use the point of interest of my light to control the lenflares artefacts are moving.

So now I have a lensflare which follow exactly my light.
Kevin Lee
11 years ago
Thanks Brett Kdawg925@gmail.com Just love to learn those little tips.
Vinz
11 years ago
nice tips .. andrews better 2 experiment now with this new tips..
4apay
11 years ago
thnx a lot!
Brett Perry
11 years ago
Hi Kevin,
I can't remember where I saw the tip or tutorial, although I suspect it was from John Dickensons' Motionworks web site. If you're really interested, send me your e-mail address and I'll send you a project file for you to check out that will show more detail than I can describe here. Hey, us AE nuts gotta stay together.
Brett
spademax
11 years ago
very nice tip! thanks a lot
11 years ago
Thank you so much Andrew,
You always have something new and exciting to share with us. Im soon going to purchase action essentials 2, and thanks to you I will be creating awesome composites, with your elements I have ideas that probably no one has ever though of in my own twisted way which you encourage us to do as always. I really do appreciate everything you have done for us all.
Thanks Again.


-Brandon Lagenour
-Revolutions Designs
However
11 years ago
hey can you make a preset for anamorphic lens flares?
Matthew Sabia
11 years ago
Thanks that's really usefull ;)
11 years ago
could you transfer this to other plug ins like cc particle world and if soo what would you use as the "flare center".
Kevin Lee
11 years ago
Thanks Andrew for the tip.

Hey Brett, that sounds like a great tip. Is there somewhere I can learn that a bit more in depth?
Alex
11 years ago
Thanks Andrew, very useful tip
andi
11 years ago
Sometimes I really do worry about Andrew's Lens Flare fetish
Brett Perry
11 years ago
Thanks Andrew,
Just a quick note that I'm sure most people have already figured out. You can use this on other 2D effects as well. Use two 3D nulls and a layer with the "beam" effect applied and the above expression using connecting one null to the start point and one to the end point. Add a camera and move the nulls in 3D space and then rotate the camera - ahh the beam in 3D. I've used this trick with the center point of Trapcode's Shine on projects as well. GO AEing today.
Brett
anvir tahini
11 years ago
IS MAKES!!! IS NICE KRAMER YOU ROCKS !!!! DUDE!!!!!
Brad
11 years ago
That's certainly very cool. Thanks for the tip!

I wonder if AE CS5 will have real 3d lens flares? :D
11 years ago
Hi, thks so much for the tip, also for all the help...

PS: My regards to Sam, I feel sorry for him.

Js´ Andrew you have:
CRASH the guy, Throw it to the floor, Blast him, Stab him, Send it to God knows where, Put it into a fight, converted to some kind like a alien, disintegrated, blow him up, freeze the pour guy to death, bug him, make him almost one of the 10 terrorist most wanted… What else you going to do to the unfortunate human being called “Sam”….

Igor
highdefw
11 years ago
Nice tip. Thanks.
11 years ago
I've always wanted to know how to do that :D
Shavkat
11 years ago
thank you Sir
11 years ago
I remember seeing that before. Thanks for the refresh! :)
borysked
11 years ago
THX :D hope it will help me and someone else in future
UmairVFX
11 years ago
Hey Buddy nice tip.

but i must say here that you have already mention this expression in your BUMP map tutorial as well and i think your another tutorial too.


well here is another expression which do the same thing.
Thoeds
11 years ago
cold!
Anthony Breslin
11 years ago
Aww just did it there. Class!

Thankyou Andrew Kramer once again ha :)
11 years ago
I figured it'd be scaling the size to match the distance on that axis.
Anthony
11 years ago
Em andrew is this ment to replace the orb we made in the tutorial or add on top of it??

It looks class btw! :)
Jim
11 years ago
Good Tutorial Andrew !
11 years ago
Sweet, this should come in handy soon!
nivekb
11 years ago
nice tip thank you
11 years ago
The whole expressions thing is still a little over my head. Well Writing them that is.
jon
11 years ago
nice man! good stuff right there
Raymond
11 years ago
Huh, I really need to take some notes when I watch these things. Totally forgot about that particular expression...
jim hines
11 years ago
I'm digging this "written" quick tip things. Thanks.
11 years ago
Thank you!!! I've always wondered how to do this, and never could figure out how! You ROCK!
Joe
11 years ago
cool
jay
11 years ago
thx andrew.
Daniel
11 years ago
Thanks for the tip.
mike
11 years ago
nice... always somehting useful :-)

thank u
Kasra
11 years ago
thanks for the tip