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Composite Video Editing with Light Leaks Creates Easy and Gorgeous Special Effects

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Easy and Gorgeous Video Special Effects

There is a link at the bottom of the post to some FREE downloadable Light Leaks.

Our goal on the VPT blog is to assist all videomakers with easy-to-use tips for enhancing the quality of their productions.

Today’s awesome post is from a guest author, Charles Duncombe, who offers a product called Light Leaks. Light Leaks are video editing tools. Blending Light Leaks into your video footage provides a unique look that can enhance the stylistic quality of your videos.

Light Leaks are easy to use. Charles does a good job of explaining how to use them for two common video editing programs, FCP X and Adobe Premier Pro. They are compatible with many others. If you enjoy using Light Leaks you might want to see how you can incorporate it with other elements found in the adobe products ecosystem (click here to learn more) to improve the overall production value of your videos.

To use a tool like Light Leaks, it takes a video editing program sophisticated enough to have a “composite” effect, which essentially blends two separate images into one.

There are similar composite and overlay special effects video editing tools on the market, so his instructions will apply in a generic sense to composite video editing of any kind.

I appreciate Charles creating this detailed gust post. Take it away Charles.

This is a detailed introduction to light leak overlay effects, how to use them and why they should be part of every editors arsenal.

What are light leaks?

The term “light leak” comes from the analogue days of film (the dark ages!) where filmmakers shot on actual celluloid.

A light leak would occur when a tiny gap or hole in a camera body would cause light to spill into the normally light-tight chamber. This would expose the camera film with extra light. This “leaked light” would then diffuse across whatever footage the lens was actually shooting, resulting in an interesting looking image.

A light leak in action

 

This effect used to be the scourge of all filmmaking professionals. It was commonly seen as a mistake and great measures were taken to avoid “light leaks” actually occurring. These days however there has been a polar shift in this mentality with filmmakers actually seeking this look.

 

Why would you want your footage to look like a mistake?

Well the thing is, light leaks are no longer considered a mistake- instead viewers see them for what they really are; exciting and abundantly interesting visual stimulation that can turn an ordinary shot into something really special, adding a specific tone and feel to video projects.

They are also great for

  • Making a dull shot fascinating.

  • Adding energy to a shot.

  • Creating a cool vintage feel.


There are 2 ways to achieve a light leak look. In camera or in post.

More often than not a filmmaker will decide to apply light leaks in post as they will have more control and don’t risk completely ruining the shot if not done right, plus it can be very hard to let light into modern day cameras without causing damage to the camera and footage.

Where should I use these light leak effects?

Wedding videos
The wedding was held in spring in an idyllic country wine estate and the footage, while beautiful, is a little ‘flat’.

wedding light leak video effects for download

The solution might be to add extra warmth and color to your edit through light leaks, making the shot more “special” and your clients wedding day more unique. A golden sunset tone would help give a more romantic edge. The trick is to add warmth to the image without overpowering it.

light leak lomo video effects, overlays and transitions for free download

 

Action Sports Videos

Imagine you are editing a new surfing video – The music’s pumping loud and the surfers are cutting “sick” on the waves.

Surfer carving a massive wave. Without light leaks.

In this situation the soft light effects used previously in the wedding video would not have the energy and impact your edit needs, instead edgier light leak effects are in order, with stronger reds and oranges (like when you come to the end of a reel of film).

With light leaks, the surfer looks so much radder! Cowabunga!

 

Music videos.

What about if you’ve been hired by a band to edit their latest music video. This sounds great until you get the footage. It’s in black and white, and the shots are kinda boring.

No light leak effects on music video footage.

With light leak effects you could introduce a series of streaking blue tinged light leaks and flares that might just do the trick to add energy and make the edit much more interesting.

Music video using Star Trek light leaks.

 

These are just a couple of examples of the possibilities light leaks present. In this next part I’ll show you how easy it is to introduce them into your next edit.

 

Ok! So how do I use light leak effects.

Applying light leak effects are easy! To show you, we’ve written a step by step break down how to use light leak effects in two of the more common editing platforms, Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro.

As a rule, any editing software that allows ‘composite’ or ‘blend’ modes to change will work with post production light leak effects.

Step 1 – Import your light leaks into your edit software.

For FCPX

Simply select FILE > IMPORT > MEDIA (keyboard shortcut = ?I) and select the light leaks you want to import from the popup finder window.

Another way is to click on the import media button displayed here –

 

For Premiere Pro

Select FILE > IMPORT (?I for mac, CTL-I for PC) and select light leaks from popup window.

 

Step 2 – Choose the light leak you want to use!

 

Simply treat your recently imported light leaks like any other footage. Scrub through the light leak until you find a moment in the light leak you specifically want to use. Now set the in and out points around this moment.

Final Cut Pro X


Adobe Premiere Pro

 

Step 3 – Positioning.

In your timeline position the chosen light leak above your footage.


Final Cut Pro X
Adobe Premiere Pro

 

Step 4 – Change the blend mode.

Change the light leaks “composite mode” to screen.

 

In FCPX

Make sure you have the light leak layer selected in your sequence.
Then open the inspector window by clicking this button on the far right of FCPX layout.

 

Now, in the inspector window under ‘Compositing’ change the ‘blend mode’ to Screen.

 

In Premiere Pro

Double click on the light leak in your timeline.
Click on the ‘Effect Controls’ tab in your source window.

Now click the triangle next to Opacity.

There you will see “blend mode”. Change it to screen. Screen mode will give you that classic light leak look.

 

Well, thats it! It’s that simple to add beautiful, colorful and energetic light leaks in your edit, taking your video project to the next level!

What’s next?

Experiment, experiment, experiment!

– Change Color.

Using your editing softwares color corrector you can change a light leak from a warm orange to a cool blue and give a completely different look to your video. (include a screenshot of this).

– Speed

Give your footage a frantic feel, or adversely, a really chilled, cool vibe. Do this by simply changing the speed of the light leak. Faster = more energy.

– Flip/Flop

Want the light leak to sit in the left of frame, not right? Thats easy, just flop the shot!

– Use multiple light leaks at once

For a truly unique look use more than one light leak at once, simply stack them on different layers.

– Use other blend modes apart from “Screen”

Screen will give you that classic light leak look you are after but you’ll be surprised by just how creative the other modes can be!

Getting Started with light leaks.

First step – finding light leaks to use in your footage!

A few experienced video editors actually create their own light leaks, however this can be a lengthy process if you are just getting started in the video editing world.

At LightLeakLove.com we have a free light leak collection for download – for nix, nada, nothing! It’s available for you to download and use as much as you want, so you can experience how light leaks can improve your next video project. Just visit http://lightleaklove.com/products/light-free and follow the prompts to download!

If you have any questions on how to use LightLeakLove light leaks, or just want to chat about how/when is best to use them, just email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you! I hope you enjoy using and experimenting with light leaks as much as we do!

Charles Duncombe

Thanks Charles! That sounds like a great deal to me. Hard to beat free! I truly love the effects Light Leaks can bring to video. Thanks from Video Production Tips.

Lorraine Grula

Internet Video Gal

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Composite Video Editing with Light Leaks Creates Easy and Gorgeous Special Effects

Composite Video Editing with Light Leaks Creates Easy and Gorgeous Special Effects

Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Very true. Visual textures have been added to video for dozens of years, some subtle and some not so much. the thing to remember is to not be too heavy handed with any effect. A subtle effect isnt an effect, it becomes part of the scene.

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