Monday, May 25, 2009

Star Trek lens flares

Whew! I'm not the only one who noticed — and was really irritated by — the ridiculous lens-flares in the new Star Trek.

As I told you, I loved the movie. But the constant, incongruous, distracting lens flares were the one big visual minus. There was even a lens flare as Spock climbed up a hillside! I mean — dude, what flared? A Vulcan lizard's eyeball?

Anyway, turns out there are a number of articles sharing my pain. This gent felt it was constant, blinding and idiotic. Search "star trek" and flares in Google, you'll get lots of other hits.

Probably the most hopeful title is J.J. Abrams Admits Star Trek Lens Flares Are "Ridiculous." True dat, amigo. But he sas it was his way to indicate that the future is that bright, to hint that something fantastic was happening just off-camera, and to keep it from being a sterile, all-CGI vista.

Some clever geek has applied the technique to the classic TV series:


Shane Dodson said...

J.J. Abrams--from what I gather--is a big proponent of anamorphic lenses for his movies. He obviously shooting in Panavision widescreen. Lens flares can occur when one uses those type of lenses. His first film, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III also had more than its fair share of lens flares. For that matter...Abrams even shot portions of his TV show ALIAS with anamorphic lenses, producing lens flares. Not many filmmakers use anamorphic lenses anymore. To achieve the widescreen effect, filmmakers usually go with Super 35, which produces a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in theaters and the image can be "opened up" for 4:3 television viewing, giving the viewer more information on the top and bottom of the frame, with a minimal of "cropping" on the sides of the frame. Spielberg used to shoot almost exclusively with anamorphic lenses, until he gave it up in favor of Super 35. He did return to anamorphic widescreen for the latest INDIANA JONES movie which--no big surprise here--contained many lense flares.

Daniel said...

That video was hilarious.

I am reminded of those who think that since a hint of perfume is fresh and nice, it must follow that a toxic wall of olfactory numbing stink must be best, you know what I'm sayin'? Course ya do.

I had known about the flares going in to see the movie, and I am glad I was warned beforehand because what would have been distracting, and annoying, was... well... just as distracting and annoying - but it was easier to take knowing I wasn't alone in my annoyance.

Dude, I am still chuckling at the video. There are some talented and funny people out there.

Fred Butler said...

I would suggest Paramount do this to all of the old Star Trek episodes they are currently remastering with better special effects.

DJP said...

Daniel — exactly. Perfume or cologne make a perfect analogy.

Shane, thanks for that. Maybe he needs like a 12-step program or something.

"I'm JJ Abrams, and I'm a lens-flare addict."
"Hi, JJ."

My visual association for Spielberg is smoke. EVERY SCENE (I exaggerate slightly) is smoky, so that shafts of light can show.

Shane Dodson said...

I appreciate Abrams because he sticks with anamorphic lenses for a true widescreen movie. Spielberg gave up shooting in widescreen for a while because the composition of his shots were getting terribly altered when presented for 4:3 TV viewing. His frustration is understandable, but with the proliferation of 16:9 HDTVs...cropping of anamorphic movies is becoming less and less an issue. I hope Abrams sticks with anamorphic lenses...even if he has an "issue" with lens flares. At least he hasn't gone the George Lucas route and shoots movies 100% with HD digital cameras.

DJP said...

Well, read the links I give - the flares aren't inadvertent side-effects. They're totally deliberate. He stresses that.

...aaaand needs to Step Away.

Anonymous said...

Love the video!

The movie in IMAX was incredible notwithstanding the lens flares which were quite overboard.

CR said...

Hmmm, don't remember the lens flare. Interesting. Guess it just didn't bother me.

Kim said...

I did not notice any flares... but then again, I was subjected to the front row which obscured a decent view throughout the entire movie. And I think the raspberry frozen yogurt and the closeness of the screen made me nauseous. I think If I ever see it again, it will be like seeing it for the first time.

deohsan said...

A bit off topic, but when the video ends, Youtube offers similar videos for you to watch. One of the other videos features Star Trek fans who didn't like the new move because
- there was no heavy-handed message on "tolerance"
- the story made sense
- there was no stiff acting
- they didn't want to see young attractive people doing exciting things
It was from the Onion reports, by the way. Hehehe.

VcdeChagn said...

You know, I read your original article, and went to see it today, having forgot about the Lens Flares (do they deserve capital letters?).

I didn't notice them at all.

My wife, the artsy one (thank God, otherwise our kids would grow up more like Spock) didn't say anything until I asked her just now about them.

Her answer (paraphrased)...Yes, didn't you notice them? They were irritating!

VcdeChagn said...


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