How to create lightning and energy effects

Lightning example


Lense Flare and Oval

Step 1: Watch a movie
See what you can do with lightning and energy

Step 2: The concept
The lightning effect is created using an Adobe After Effects filter called lightning (big surprise) , while the energy ball effect is created using a filter called "lense flare". These two effects were some of the first filters I started messing around with when I began using After Effects and they are very easy to use.
Step 3: what you will need
  • Not much for this particalar effect, in fact you won't even need to film anything - that is, you could just apply the lightning or lense flare onto a layer in After Effects - but I filmed myself as shown in the video above in order to apply the effects just to see what I could come up with.
  • Adobe After Effects (computer program windows or mac)

Step 4: Create the effect!
  • Open After Effects
  • Create a new compostioin: composition -> new composition
  • If you have a video clip, such as yourself throwing your arms in different wild directions that you hope will be throwing lightning after you're done here today, then go a head and import it and lay it down on your composition's time line.
  • Next, create a new BLACK solid layer: layer -> new -> solid. Make sure the color is et to BLACK and the size is the the same as the composition size (just click on the "Make Comp Size" button) and click OK.
  • Place the BLACK solid layer ABOVE your video clip on the time line.
  • You will want to "screen" your new BLACK layer, so go to: Layer -> Blending mode -> screen
  • Once you've screened your BLACK layer, you should see your video clip as if you never placed a black layer on top of it.
  • Now, to create the lightning, go to: Effect -> Render -> Lightning
  • A blue lightning bolt should appear on your video preview
  • You can press your space bar to do RAM preview your lightning
  • At this point, your lightning will only zap around, but it's two end points WILL NOT move - because we have not set any keyframes.
  • If you want your lightning to move you will need to set it's end point keyframes to move over time
  • To do this, click on the triangle next to the black solid in the time line, click on the triangle next to the effects, click on the triangle next to the lightning.
  • You will see the "Start point" and "End point" attribute once you have expanded the lightning effect (from the previous step).
  • Click the stop watch on the "start point" and "end point" to create your initial keyframes on the time line (the keyframes will appear as silver diamonds in the time line)
  • Now, move your time line meter to another point in time, say a few seconds to the right of your first keyframes.
  • Take your mouse and click and drag one end of the lightning to another spot on your video preview
  • Now you will want to set another key frame to tell the computer to move your lightning's end point from your first keyframe position to your second key frame position. To create another key frame (and all other keyframes after you've click the stop watch for the first time) simply click on the check box to the left of the stop watch (DO NOT click the stop watch again if you want to set more keyframes).
  • Press the space bar on your keyboard to see your lightning move from your first key frame to your second key frame.
  • Play around with the position of your lightning end points, it can make for some interesting effects.
  • The energy or "Lense Flare" effect is created by first selecting your BLACK screened solid (as described in the steps above) and going to: Effect -> Render -> Lense Flare
  • Again, play around with the "Flare Center", "Flare Brightness" and "Lese Type" attributes, you never know what you might come up with ;)