I’d agree with Kyle there… 5-10 mins to create a custom flare, based on observations of real lens flares and how they actually look and move.
Most experienced motion graphics folks can spot a lens flare preset from about a million miles away. And some of the ways that lens flares are used is nothing short of criminal!
I find them useful when used subtly and sparingly. They’re brilliant for binding additive light elements together and blowing out exposure. But generally in motion graphics circles, heavy handed use of flares is considered pretty cheap and tacky.
There is a burgeoning training community for motion graphics on the web. As sites like Video Copilot bring the technical skills to an ever increasing audience, we’ll find ever more files that are Kramer clones. Increasingly, day rates for After Effects ‘ops’ will plummet - as they have done in real terms for the last decade or so.
But on the positive side as the tool becomes ubiquitous and the hardware increasingly available, then the medium will be forced to become about invention and creativity again. Those who are being hired for their creative ability will command rates massively above those who are applying ‘techniques’ that they’ve picked up from Copilot or elsewhere. In other words, it will break down into the art and the craft.
The problem is that if you only look at work that’s exactly in the field you work in, you will always end up imitating. Kneeling before the temple of Kramer is not the path to visual enlightenment. Motion graphics artists should be looking at photography, animation, film-making, painting, the world. I mean look at some of the motion graphics that were created years before computers even existed. Personally, my biggest motion graphics training has been far away from a computer, behind a camera. Thinking how you conceptualise and plan a scene in real life brings so much insight into how to break down and conceptualise motion graphics… from the ‘lens’ you use to the camera choreography, action, editing and so on.
One other thing… Lens flares aren’t supposed to be 3D are they? They exist in the lens - an artefact of internally reflected light - not in the world.