Film Flare Transitions tutorial ( updated )

Film Flare Transitions Tutorial

Here is a technique for adding the effect of a film camera stopping and starting and the resultant flash frames or flare that sometimes occur. While years ago this was something that was mostly edited out, with the more recent search for the elusive film look, a lot of people have been adding this effect back in. I haven’t seen any tutorials on how to achieve this, even though I hear a lot of people asking how it is done. So if you aren’t happy with using normal flash frame dissolves then read on.

Firstly you will need a clip of film flare that will last anything from a few frames, to a second or two. A couple of free, low resolution clips are available to experiment with on the Scratchtapes page, where you can also buy some of these clips to use on a commercial basis. If you happen to have a 16mm or Super8 projector with some old reels laying around, it might be worth having a scan through these to see what you can find on them, which can be a lot of fun, but becomes a lot more work.

I’ve written the steps below for anybody who has a basic understanding of FCP, Motion, After Effects etc.

1. Add a clip to the time line, making sure the clips out point is not at the last frame of the clip.

2. Add a second clip to the time line, following the first, this time setting an in point which is not the first frame of the clip.

3. Add your film flare clip to the time line, immediately above the edit point, so that the film flare clip is centered over the edit point of the two clips below ( again you may want to experiment with this ).
Now set the clips Composite mode to something like Screen or Overlay ( you may want to experiment with this, the clip in this example uses Overlay ).

4. Render the area, if need be, to see how it looks. If the flare effect is too over the top or jumping in and out too much, try shortening it, say to something like 7 to 10 frames and then adjusting it’s opacity at it’s in and out points ( fade it in and out ).

5. If you want the the edit to be soft, then add a very short cross dissolve between the 2 lower clips.

Another touch you can add to this technique is to ramp up the speed of the out going clip, just over the last couple of frames. Even just splitting the last few frames of the clip and doubling it’s speed can give quite a realistic effect.

It’s all about experimenting and seeing what works best for any given scenario.

Good luck.

2 thoughts on “Film Flare Transitions tutorial ( updated )

  1. This is great, thanks for the tutorial. You mention you can find free film flare clips from the ‘links above’ but I’m not sure what link you’re referring to. Care to specify?


    1. John,
      Thanks for letting me know. The site was just switched over to WordPress last week and as a result there are still a few dead links. The free clips will be back up next week, once I’ve figured the best permanent home for them.

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