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The Story of Knoll Light Factory


VFX Supervisor John Knoll is the pioneer in developing artificial lens flares and light effects. The same code that John released for the After Effects versions of Knoll Light Factory back in the 1990’s has been used inside Industrial Light & Magic for over a decade. In the past, the lens flare render engine—the heart of Light Factory—has been used by a variety of artists (including John) at ILM.


A host of artificial lens flares created with the lens engine have been used in prominent feature films. For Mission Impossible in the 1990’s, the lens flare engine added realistic looking lights to CG elements. In the recent Star Wars films, the lens engine was used to add glints and light reflections to spacecraft shots. Artists used the lens engine on more recent films such as Star Trek, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Ironman 2 to add photorealistic looking flares.


John’s work on recent films fueled his desire to update the lens flare engine with new flare elements and features. In Knoll Light Factory 3, these new elements and features let John create new presets that expand the visual range and capabilities of his signature light effects tool.


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