All things Apple0 posts
I suppose at some point the verdict on the style used in Star Trek is entirely subjective, but I always liked it. While I didn’t articulate it as well when I saw it for the first time, it had J.J. Abrams’ desired effect on me:
“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….”
It’s popular to complain about this now, but I personally hope this criticism goes away.
Despite your experience of being drawn out of the film, this is actually done to draw people IN because people are conditioned to believe things seen through cameras, including all the standards and flaws that came about early on film. This is why video games added lens flare in the 90s (see Zelda TOoT), and why so many people dislike high frame rate films, and why 3D animated films blossomed with good motion blur mimicking 180 degree shutters, and why some films use low quality video and camera shake to make something look like a documentary or home video.
Yes, just like any effect it can be over-done, but I would say these examples you’re citing are pretty good uses of that style. I would be willing to guess that most people’s reaction to this is something like confirmation bias, where it’s decided early on that it is now overused, and then when you see it you’re drawn out of the experience. As an anecdotal counterpoint, I recently mentioned this to my wife who loves the J.J. Abram’s Star Trek and she had no recollection of the effect being in the film.
I’m not exactly a film expert, but my understanding is that traditionally lens flare was seen as a flaw and filmakers avoided shooting with direct light sources in the scene to prevent this. That seems reasonable, but I would say in recent decades that many similar flaws of the medium have been exploited for style or immersion — I’ve already mentioned a few like camera shake, but also things like small shutter angles, washing out colors, shallow depth of field. It seems like many modern filmmakers just aren’t shying away from shooting directly at light sources and are either letting the flaw in or mimicking what it should be with special effects.
I personally don’t want all my movies to have flawless images — perfect infinite focus, 60fps, with 100% accurate colors. I want a film with character that effectively takes advantage of the medium to tell a story and create emotion. I think lens flare is a reasonable tool for that purpose, and not just some cheap gimmick.
29 days ago on ‘The Machine’ review: a stylish indie sci-fi thriller about humanity's obsolescence 2 replies 20 recommends