Recently, Red Giant released a new version of Knoll Light Factory, and I’ve been asked a few questions quite a lot.
- Does the world need another lens flare generator?
- Is it better than the competition?
- What’s unique about it?
Thanks for asking. Here goes…
1. Does the world need another lens flare generator?
About 20 years ago, John Knoll – co-creator of Photoshop and VFX master at ILM – set out to create a system for generating lens flares he could use in film. It eventually evolved into a plug-in for off-the shelf software, and finally it became an After Effects and video editing Plug-in. Today, pretty much every lens flare generator out there is built on John Knoll’s methodology for digitally creating naturally occurring lens flares. Even the flare element names like “Caustics,” “Chroma Hoop,” “Sparkle,” and “Spike Ball,” used widely, were originated by John Knoll for KLF.
You might not realize this, but for the last 20 years, Knoll Light Factory has been the most used lens flare generator in the world. The list of customers that own a license of some version of a Knoll Flare product is gigantic - partially because of it’s long history in Hollywood, and partially because it’s supported on multiple host (including After Effects, FCP and Premiere Pro).
But despite working in the host apps you use most, the Knoll Light factory engine is still built from the same engine as the one used by John Knoll at Industrial Light and Magic – the one used in Star Wars, Transformers, Avatar, the new Start Trek, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
(In the above image of a few flare presets, EH stands for Ethan Hunt)
Even with the competition in recent years, Knoll Light factory still has 20 years of customers using the product – and those customers needed an update. But an update of that magnitude could only be done properly by John Knoll – one of the smartest busiest men in Hollywood. John is easily the most qualified person on the planet to bring realism and accuracy to a lens flare tool – especially in a Hollywood landscape where directors still prefer to do as much as they can practically, because the digital does not really come close the actual (although, when you do see very real-looking digital flares in films, it’s often John’s work or someone using his tools).
So, while to some degree, competition has driven forward the development of Knoll Light Factory, for John, it’s all about accuracy and realism. No flare generator could go out the door if it was not up to his standards.
Coming back to the original question… Does the world need another lens flare generator? I don’t know. KLF is not another flare generator – it’s the original – with the longest history and largest user base. And with the latest updates, it bring more to the table than there ever has been in the world of lens flare generation. (Watch a Getting Started Tutorial)
2. Is it better than the competition?
Well, we sure thinks so. We’ve worked hard to balance creative user experience with accuracy and beauty. But don’t take our word for it. Download a free trial version and try it out yourself. We know you’ll be impressed.
3. What’s unique about KLF3?
Lots. And we think it makes all the difference in the world. It’s fair to say that due to Knoll Light Factory’s long history, so much of what’s out there resembles KLF – it has set the tone for flare generation for the last two decades. But let’s look at what makes this new version of KLF unique.
1. Accuracy/Realism. KLF3 is hands-down the most realistic lens flare generator in the world. It is built on years of John Knoll’s work at ILM creating ground-breaking VFX for big Hollywood movies. Many of the flares included with KLF come right out of recent big-budget films.
2. Lens designer. We’d be lying if we said there was nothing like it on the market – And that’s because we took our incredibly popular Magic Bullet Looks interface and built off of it to create an entirely unique, intuitive, and artist driven experience for designing and altering lens flare presets. You will never feel the need to just use a preset as-is – but you can if you’re short on time. There are tons of fantastic presets to help you get started. (Watch a Tutorial on the New Lens Designer)
3. Behaviors. My personal favorite – a fantastic set of easy-to use tools that make it simple to animate one, a few, or even tons of flares in seconds. Blinking, pulsing, flickering, and more, plus fantastic timing controls for all of that. Even an experienced motion designer with a need for control will love behaviors because they remove none of the control, just the time needed set up flare animation. (Watch a Tutorial on Behaviors)
(Several 3D lights fire off lens flares in sequence, using the strobe behavior with a delay.)
4. Integration with AE 3D Lights. Okay, we’re not the first to do this, but I think it’s fair to say that our integration is easily the most flexible, elegant system you’ll find for this kind of thing. (Watch the Getting Started Tutorial)
5. Stability. KLF 3 is stable. We haven’t traded anything for stability. You can rely on it to get the job done.
6. Team Red Giant. Software is nothing without an amazing support team to back it up. We have the best, most knowledgeable, fastest-responding team in the industry. You’re never alone when you buy a Red Giant product – That’s part of our Red Pledge.
One important thing to note: Given Knoll Light Factory’s long history, there are a lot of people that are eligible for the upgrade price of $99. If you have ever owned a license of any Knoll Video product (so that excludes Knoll Light Factory for Photoshop) you are eligible for the upgrade.