How to Create Custom Light Leaks for Your Next Film

Filmmaking 08/07/2019 3 min read

In this tutorial, you’ll learn some awesome tips and tricks to capture light leaks in-camera for your next film. It is super easy to do and the only requirement is a DSLR camera.

There are many online places where you can purchase light leaks, but some of them can get pretty expensive. But making light leaks yourself is surprisingly simple. If you want to save yourself a bit of cash and still create a heavenly look in your films, this is a great option.

To create your own light leaks you’re going to need three things:

  1. A camera with a detachable lens
  2. A tripod
  3. Lots of patience

There are countless different ways to make your own light leaks but we’re going to go over two different methods. Each gives a little bit of a different result, so test them out, and see which one you like better. 

Part 1: Film Light Leaks Using Natural Light

The first method is to go outside and use the sun. While you can accomplish this using your camera handheld, we recommend setting up your camera on a tripod to keep it stable.

Next, take the lens off of your camera. Having the lens off your camera will completely exposure your sensor, so please be careful! Make sure nothing gets inside the camera to damage it during this time. 

Once the lens is off, turn your camera on and set it to record a video. For your benefit later on, try and shoot at your camera’s highest possible quality settings, and if you plan on slowing down your footage later, shoot it at least 30 frames per second or higher, if possible. 

With your lense detached, all you should see is a pure white screen — this is because nothing is focusing the light into your camera, so it’s all coming in. 

With your lens cap on, bring your lense back towards your camera mount, but don’t reattach it. Here’s where you can start to see your light leaks take form. This is because only a little bit of light is sneaking through between your lens and your camera body.

To get your light leaks to look the way you want them to, it’ll probably take some trial and error, along with a bit of creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things to get different effects.

Try pointing your camera towards, away from, and perpendicular to the sun or other light sources. You can do things like having somebody else walk in front of your lens, move a tree branch in front of it, or use your hand to change how much light is entering the gap. 

Part 2: Shoot Light Leaks Using Artificial Light

If you live in a part of the world where you see frequent rain or cloudy days, the second method of using artificial light might work better for you. You can do exactly the same thing in method one indoors with a different light source. 

Find the brightest light source and aim it perpendicular to your camera, play around, and see what works best. Now that you’re filming indoors, you have a whole other set of options available to you. 

Try making your room completely pitch black. If you can’t get it completely pitch black, don’t worry. Put your lens on and narrow your aperture as much as possible, then point your camera at something black. 

Try to shoot with as low as an ISO as possible to prevent getting a lot of noise in your image. You can also try to make your shutter speed double your frame rate to get a more natural motion blur. 

Now, take any portable light source (like a lighter or flashlight) and move it around your camera. Experimenting with different things to shine your light through to get a different result.

There are limitless possibilities to how you can create your own light leaks, so try these methods out and just see what works. Now that you’ve created some interesting looking light leaks, you can start to edit them into your film or video project.

Part 3: Editing Light Leaks in Premiere Pro 

Load your footage into your computer and input it into Premiere Pro. Take the footage of your light leaks and place it above the footage you want to add the light leaks too. 

At first, you should only see your light leak footage. With your light leak clip selected, go to Effects Controls then Blending Mode. Then set your blending mode to Screen or play around with it to see what works best for you.

Now you can see your footage and the light leaks over top of them. It’s very likely though that this effect will be pretty intense and probably a little too much. To solve this, drop your Opacity down until you like the look that you’re getting. 

And that’s it. 

Now that you’ve learned how to film light leaks in-camera, get creative and see what dreamy creations you can come up with. But if you’re current project’s running on a tight deadline, Motion Array has a variety of light leak packs that you can download today, and save the experimentation for tomorrow.