SR Picks [Video]: J.J. Abrams’ Lens Flares Meet The Original Series

Published 6 years ago by , Updated May 17th, 2009 at 12:56 pm,

star trek crew and lens flares SR Picks [Video]: J.J. Abrams Lens Flares Meet The Original Series

A YouTube user took the time to creatively modify some scenes from the original Star Trek series and make them look like the new movie.

What do you mean, you ask?

Lens flares!

Prior to the release of the movie, many news blogs were discussing the overuse of lens flares in the movie and how it worried them a little bit. Then in interviews with director Abrams, even he admitted at some points, it was ridiculous. In one interview with io9, J.J. was asked why he used so many lens flares and when he decided to. In response, Abrams said:

[Smiles] I don’t know what you’re talking about. [Laughs] I’m kidding. I know what you’re saying with the lens flares. It was one of those things… I wanted a visual system that felt unique. I know there are certain shots where even I watch and think, “Oh that’s ridiculous, that was too many.” But I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn’t be contained in the frame.

The flares weren’t just happening from on-camera light sources, they were happening off camera, and that was really the key to it. I want [to create] the sense that, just off camera, something spectacular is happening. There was always a sense of something, and also there is a really cool organic layer thats a quality of it. They were all done live, they weren’t added later. There are something about those flares, especially in a movie that can potentially be very sterile and CG and overly controlled. There is something incredibly unpredictable and gorgeous about them. It is a really fun thing. Our DP would be off camera with this incredibly powerful flashlight aiming it at the lens. It became an art because different lenses required angles, and different proximity to the lens. Sometimes, when we were outside we’d use mirrors. Certain sizes were too big… literally, it was ridiculous. It was like another actor in the scene….

I thought the lens flares actually worked in some scenes, but there were other scenes where it looked a little stupid. I would see a bridge officer’s face (at an extreme close-up which there were a lot of by the way) for a second then see blinding flashing lights blocking the viewers from seeing the bridge and actor’s expression… I don’t get it? Why are their flashing lights covering his face when the entire theater screen is just that person’s face!?

On top of that, it’s not very natural having dudes on set pointing powerful flashlights at the camera.

I heard the reasoning that it makes the bridge dynamic and organic, but lights on a wall or ceiling aren’t that exciting – the actors and their emotions during these situations are what I want to see and since the camera is constantly moving so quickly and there are very quick cuts, the light is distracting at moments. I hope in the sequel, this is toned down a bit so we have a better balance.

Anyway, the real reason we’re here is to this video where the lens flare effect was added to scenes of the original series. Check it out:

That’s a little annoying…

Star Trek was really good and it was a beautiful looking movie – I can’t wait for the sequel!

What do you think of the lighting in this video and of the movie?

Source: io9

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  1. LOL, I like the way Kirk’s eyes look in that picture

  2. According to a few people here, there were no lens flares in the movie, lol. We’re ALL out of our minds, including JJ Abrams himself, yep. Those few are the only sane people in an insane world…

    I thought the spoof was funny, but in fact, I think they had too FEW lens flares in the spoof compared to the new movie, haha. There were times in the movie where the lights were so bright that they completely consumed the whole image and we’re looking at a white screen with audio…

  3. The flares were appropriate and beautiful. Along with the clever editing and bold camera movements it made up a visual language that literally IS Star Trek. Plus, it sort of mirrors the colored gels and “inappropriate” lighting that signified a new visual style back in the 60′s show, esp. the first season.

    The flares were exciting and unique and were a stylistic triumph. If you’re not into simultaneously looking at a movie as a moving painting, but only as static camera capturing whatever is going on in front of it, then I can see how they were “distracting”. I think they made the movie work on another level.

  4. OMG! I hated the lens flares. They really bugged me. I kept throwing my hands up and murmuring “come on” to my buddies. It was way overused and they became distracting. After a while, it was all I could pay attention to.

  5. HAHA that was pretty great. I personally think the flares did a good job of giving the film a unique look (expect the space scenes where they clearly ripped off Firefly/Serenity) I didn’t like the story, all its holes etc and the Star Wars music, but the look of the movie itself was impressive. The only time the lens flares bugged me was when they were behind someones face and it consumed their face to the point you couldnt see then FACE.

  6. BRAVO C.P. ! I could not agree with you more! Could not have said it better myself! It brought the reality to the film. JJ uses the flares much less in Fringe, and for effect it works on the small screen as well. Well done!

  7. I just didn’t notice the lens flares in the movie. Maybe I wasn’t looking for them, and I’ll keep an eye out the next time I see it.

  8. I wasn’t aware that you needed to “look out” for someone shining bright lights at your face… lol

  9. lol, I photoshopped the image at the top – Wasn’t the movie entirely like that? J/K

    As I said, I liked the lens flares for some of it, but for other parts of it, it was way too extreme and distracting in a bad way.

    @ Matt K,

    I put the light in Kirk’s eyes on purpose because I thought it was funny :)

  10. Actually, I had to reread the first sentence, of the article, a couple times to make sure I’d read it right because I can’t remember the lens flairs at all. They obviously didn’t bother me enough to even hint at being memorable. I’m sure now that, when I watch it again, they’ll be the only thing I can see though. So, thanks a lot for that. :P

  11. It doesn’t have to bother you to notice that half of the time the screen was completely white and like there were spotlights shining into your eyes 50% of the movie… You can like it, and still notice it. I don’t know, were you watching the movie with sunglasses? lol

  12. It was not a big issue for me….

  13. I didn’t even notice them either though…

    Haha, no glasses, but I was sitting in the back row. Maybe the lens flairs were the only thing making it bright enough to actually see that far back.

  14. That’s a pretty funny photo.

    Anyone notice the lens flare in the Icecave ?

  15. @psyko, maybe you were too concerned over your nose bleeding to notice, haha. I don’t know, some of my friends love sitting in the back row, I don’t get it. Now the “rear” speakers in the “surround sound” system is actually above you, pointing in FRONT of you, so basically, you’re excluded from the surround sound. Might as well watch it in stereo. And why is it better to have the screen so small??

    I understand if there are no other seats left and you’re forced to sit there, but I don’t get why they prefer the back row…

  16. I don’t really care where I sit in the movie theatre to be honest….I ususally just sit wherever.

  17. Just didn’t notice them, I was too immersed into the story I suppose. They must have seemed natural enough in that setting to me that I just subconsciously ignored them.

  18. I did notice lensflare in the movie. But only as a nice touch. I can’t remember them to be too many or annoying. So they must have been functional.

  19. @Ken

    Hahaha, that is probably it.

    I’m not sure why people would choose the back row either.

  20. I did notice an excess of lens flare, and it became too evident as the movie advanced. ¡Even the titles at the and with the planets had lens flare!
    Som yeah… way too much for me, I didn’t expected that level of blindness.
    I don’t think “in real life” having those kind of lights at the bridge of a spaceship would be wise.
    I hope that someone makes another Star Trek movie nontheless.