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Killer Sun and Light Rays for Photo and Video Using Red Giant’s Trapcode Shine and Adobe CC (Visual FX)

Enhancing a photo or video clip is common business nowadays but what tools do you use when you want it realistic and bringing that wow factor at the same time? While there are many tools I’ve found for adding realistic sun rays and lens flare effects on desktop and mobile (I’m thinking tools like Luminar on Mac and PicsArt on Android/iOS), there’s nothing better than using the most elite pro software in the universe – and for that I step to tools by Red Giant and Adobe.

So what are we talking about doing? Well here’s some still images I made with Trapcode Shine by Red Giant, and a short demo clip showing some of the special FX one can design for video, motion graphics, and in this case, still images.

Red Giant makes powerful tools. I have been a fan for a few years and promote them whenever I can. In my design-media classes I always encourage my students to check out their tools.

In their own words: “At Red Giant, we make tools, films and training to enrich the community of filmmakers and motion designers… We have built software for motion design, color correction, visual effects and photography that is used for everything from major motion pictures to worldwide television programming to web production.”

Adobe needs almost no introduction. I will tell you that I edit almost all my photos using two tools: Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. ACR is the program that appears first when you open a RAW image file and intend to use PS. It’s very similar to Lightroom.

I also use After Effects in combination with Photoshop to take advantage of the range of Red Giant tools available as plugin effects, such as Trapcode Shine and Knoll Light Factory and Magic Bullet Looks.

Combine tools by Adobe and Red Giant and you have a visual effects beast.

Tutorial – Working with Shine and Still Images in After Effects

Whether you go subtle or radical with your visual effects is entirely up to you. The beautiful thing about this tutorial is that you are not trying to apply this effect over time, which involves keyframing some evolution of the effect and creating movement on a timeline. In this tutorial you are simply applying a beautiful visual effect. And it takes just a few minutes to create something cool.

The following assumes some basic understanding of how Adobe After Effects works (it’s not hard to get started with though it’s one of the most powerful visual effects tools available).

Before watching the video, keep in mind these are the main adjustments I usually make:

  1. Ray length
  2. Shimmer “Amount”
  3. Shimmer “Detail” 

The adjustments to the above provide the most bang for the buck

Here are some basic steps:

  • Open After Effects and import your image.
  • Create a new composition.
  • Drag the Shine effect onto your image. 
  • Adjust effects parameters to your liking.
  • The default settings of Shine will work magic straight away.
  • First change the position or the origin of the light. 
  • Then adjust the intensity and number of rays. 
  • From here you might alter colour and opacity.

Last step is exporting one or more images and making final touches in Photoshop. Here’s a quick one-minute video I made for an Instagram post showing the basic process: 

Shine is one of my favourite visual effects tools. Play with different colours and with the various sliders, watch some tutorial videos for a wider understanding and generally experiment and have fun. You’ll notice, if you are interested in video production and motion graphics, that Shine has lots of applications including making beautiful ethereal light effects for text and titles.

Related Software

If you are interested in exploring similar software for creating light I will be posting a short tutorial on using another amazing Red Giant tool called Knoll Light Factory – check it out if you have time!

Thanks and hope you found this useful!

Links

Trapcode Shine at Red Giant
https://www.redgiant.com/products/trapcode-shine/

Mike Simpson’s Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/mikesimpson.ms/

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