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Can anyone give me some tips on simulating a camera flash in After Effects. I am trying to make it keyframing the scale and opacity of a white shape layer but I can't get it to look right.

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As a photographer, a flash is simply a very short burst of white light (as you're no doubt aware). The maximum time at full power is usually around 1/250th of a second, which is equal to 1/10th of a frame. In that case, if you were to accurately represent a flash being fired, you would simply boost the exposure of a single frame by several stops (to make it almost completely white, whilst retaining a little bit of detail).

Something as simple as this would suffice.

enter image description here

For one frame.

enter image description here

If you really wanted to be technically accurate, you could simulate the CMOS flicker of a flash by only boosting the exposure on a horizontal portion of the frame, say the top 2/3rds or something.

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  • So, we've given him two different answers. One that simulates a subject getting hit by a flash, and one that simulates a flash firing into the camera. – Friend of Kim Mar 12 '12 at 22:59
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In After Effects, there is an effect Exposure that controls the exposure of the layer. You could probably use that instead of a white shape layer.

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I suppose you mean that you've filmed a flash that you want to "fire" in After Effects. If you buy the Video Copilot Optical Flares or Red Giant Knoll Light Factory you can simply put a lens flare on the flash and animate the strength.

Download a trial and see for yourself!

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