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Reference Photo

Consider the following photograph:

Reference Image

No Glare

The first render resembles:

No glare reference

Note how the LEDs have no glare.

Glare

The second render adds glare by following Price's tutorial:

Glare reference

Problems

Adding glare introduces a number of problems (in no particular order):

  • Since the glare is added during compositing, the cabinet door glass does not affect it.
  • The star streaks are not pointed.
  • Separating the cabinet door frame and cabinet door handle for masking eliminates incorrect glare, but produces a moiré pattern for the handles (even with dithering and DoF in place).
  • Due to issues with alpha, the white environment background is no longer applied (this is not apparent with the glare reference image because JPEG does not support transparent backgrounds). This cascades to other problems (such as darker tiles and less window reflection).

Question

How would you produce a realistic glare (or glowing LEDs) that is behind glass and correctly masked?

Compositor Node Setup

Here is the node setup:

Glare node setup

(Aside: does Blender have an "save node setup as image" option? A screenshot won't necessarily capture a massive node setup.)

Glass Nodes

The glass nodes have the following node setup, from chocofur's tutorial:

Glass nodes

And the absorption:

Absorption nodes

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    $\begingroup$ The glass shouldn't affect the glare, the glare occurs as a result of the camera lens, not some fuzzy aura around light sources. As a result the cabinet door is affecting it correctly. $\endgroup$ – GiantCowFilms Apr 12 '15 at 19:30
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Try adding a refraction node to your door material, so that the light gets dispersed

enter image description here

Edit: In you file the glare is there but it's almost wiped out by the white environment's brighness:

enter image description here

Your file on a Blue environment.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ You could also use the glass node.... it will give you accurate reflections as a bonus. $\endgroup$ – GiantCowFilms Apr 12 '15 at 19:38

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