If you ever need to soften or add texture to a sequence, there’s a good chance you’ll use light leaks to do it. Thanks to the advent of instant filters, this accidental film burn effect—which used to be the bane of every analog filmmaker’s—is now widely popular and readily available in the form of overlays.
Nowadays, filmmakers use light leaks overlays for many reasons. Sometimes it’s to signal that the scene taking place is a memory, premonition, or hallucination. But more often than not, you’ll see light leak overlays being used stylistically, as a way of creating a wistful or vintage vibe within a scene, as seen in the example below.
One of the great things about light leak overlays, in addition to making your videos look 10/10, is that they’re really easy to use. (We explain how further down). One of the not-so-great things about them: they aren’t so easy to find. On the cheap, that is.
Yes, the Internet has tons of light leak overlays just sitting there waiting to be downloaded. But the vast majority of these come with price tags which, when you’re making a lot of projects, can add up.
So, since we know that a lot of you guys and gals don’t have the time to trawl the web looking for quality light leaks, nor the budgets to splash on each individual one you find, we’ve put together this list of the top 25 free light leak overlays just for you. And since we were feeling extra friendly, we’ve also thrown in a tutorial on how to make your very own light leaks in camera, from scratch. Enjoy!
Top 25 Free Light Leak Overlays
This bundle contains 10 different light leaks, perfect for overlays or transitions.
Lookin’ to add some vintage vibes to your videos? This pack of holographic, light leaks and gradient textures provides the perfect solution.
This pack comes with 30 different light leaks which, as the demo proves, will work a charm with any slow-motion or cinematic footage.
These fast flickering light leaks are great for adding a splash of faux glare.
After some sweet rainbow light leaks overlays? This pack has your back. It comes with four types: Orange and Purple, Fast Golden, Royal Blue, and Are You Nuts (which is basically a bit of everything).
In this pack, you’ll score 15 Full 1080p HD clips of real light leaks.
If you like a bit diversity in your light leak packs, then this option is for you. Thirty different overlays, each one unique.
In this pack of el naturale 4K light leaks you’ll score lens flares, overlays, glows, and more.
Bring on the motherload! Here you’ve literally got every light leak option for film. Warm wipes, multicolored sparkles, pastel shades, colorful strobes, cool washes, film burn effects, multifaceted flares, fast lens flares sweeps, arctic glass light leaks, swirling light clouds, and more!
Super spiffy handmade light leaks courtesy of the good ol’ Panasonic GH5.
This simple, soft, light leak comes all on its own, making it a great one for beginners to get down and dirty with.
This bundle contains 25 4K lens whacking clips (3840 x 2160 UHD) that’ll blend perfectly with over any promo or slideshow footage.
Pack of 4 HD lens flares and light leak that can easily be upscaled to 4K if need.
Pack of 4K light leaks and lens flares + tutorial on how to use them.
5 free light leaks and film burn effects available to use with any video software of your choice.
In this Vimeo collection by VFX Footage you’ll find 9 kickass light leaks plus a plethora of other effects including shutter flickers, reveals, and color explosions. All free, all easily downloadable.
If you’re looking for that classic, oh-so-dreamy light leaks effect, look no further than this pack right here.
10 4K light leaks overlays which adjustable hues and opacity. (Can be scaled to work with HD, 720p, and SD resolutions).
Need to get some color up in those vids? This pack of 36 rainbow light leak clips should do the trick.
MASSIVE collection of natural and not-so-natural 4K and HD light leaks and lens flares.
This pack of 25 4K light leaks (3840×2160) delivers all the tones — warm, cool, and rainbow.
Included you’ll find: Light Leak Hard Edge, Light Leak Fast Motion, Light Leak Orb, Light Leak Soft Focus, and Purple Light Leak.
Bundle of gentle, warm light leaks (1080p, 30fps) handmade with nothing more than a glass cup and exposed camera lens.
How To Use Light Leaks
Now that you know how and where to get your hands on dozens of free light leaks, let’s look at how to use them in Premiere Pro.
- Start with the clip or clips that you want to add light leaks to. Ensure each are positioned on your timeline.
- Go to the ‘Media Panel’ and select the light leaks file you want to use and drag and drop it directly over the clip or clips in your timeline.
- You will notice that at first, the light leak clip will completely cover up the clip below. To change this, simply go to ‘Effect Controls’ and click on the ‘Blend Mode’ drop-down box.
- In the drop-down menu select ‘Screen.’ This will cause the original clip to reappear with the light leak effect layered over the top.
- From there, you can increase or decrease the opacity of the light leak by sliding the opacity control slider on the clip up or down.
And that’s pretty much it! See we told you — easy peasy.
How To Make Your Own Light Leaks In-Camera
If you’re more of a purist who would prefer to make your own light leaks from scratch, then that’s totally doable as well. All you need is a camera, some light, and to follow these five steps:
- Carefully remove the lens from your camera. (*Doing this will expose your sensor, so make sure you’re in a clean and dry area).
- Turn your camera on and set it to record video.
- Take your lens (ensure the lens cap is on for this bit) and hold it up to your camera mount but without actually re-attaching it.
- As you gently move the lens around the camera mount, you will notice light leaks forming on your camera’s display screen.
- To achieve different light leak effects, experiment with angling your camera towards, away, and perpendicular to different light sources like the sun, ceiling lights, or candles. Alternatively, you can also try having an object (like a branch or flag) or person create subtle movements in front of the camera.
As you’ll quickly realize, the options for creating different types of light leaks is endless and achieving the look you want will take time. The main thing is to be patient, experiment with as many different methods as you can, and try and have fun along the way.
As you can see, light leaks are an easily obtainable effect that don’t require you to open up your wallet every time you want to use one in your videos. The Internet has dozens of freebie overlays hiding deep within its belly and thanks to this post, you now know exactly where to find them.
But better yet, why not take the sustainable approach and try creating some on your own. You’ll learn a cool new skill along the way and when you’re done, you’ll be able to give back to the videomaking community by sharing what you’ve made! Speaking of which, if anyone has any homemade light leak overlays they’d like to share, be a champ and drop the download link into the comments section below. The team here at Motion Array, plus all you fellow filmmakers, will love you for it!