Sunday, July 12, 2015

Please J.J., No More

Have you ever heard of J.J. Abrams? He's a producer, writer, and director; best known for shows like "Lost", "Alias", and "Fringe", and movies like "Super 8", "Star Trek", and the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens". I really enjoy his work, overall. There is just one thing that really bugs me about it: lens flairs.

What are lens flairs? They are small glares that cut across the camera lens; usually because strong sunlight hits at just the right spot while filming. Now, I really don't mind lens flairs overall. It's just that Mr. Abrams (may I call you "J.J."?) likes to put them in post - after the shots have been taken - as a "special effect" - a sort of signature.

I think that J.J. likes to use them to create a sort of realism - to give the viewer what the director might see from his perspective.

Please, J.J., no more lens flairs.

It's one thing to see them in a highly-lit scene, where the small flash can go almost completely unnoticed. But, when there is an outdoor scene, in November, in Boston, with an overcast sky, there is NO REASON for a lens flair. At that point you don't have a neat effect: you have a distraction that takes you out of the scene. STOP IT!

There was an episode in the show "Fringe" where the above HAPPENED. My wife and I are watching through the series, and, you can confirm with her, I find I keep yelling at the screen: "Stop it, J.J.! Enough with the lens flairs!" What does this mean? Instead of being pulled into the scene, captivated by what I'm seeing, I'm being told "Hey you! You there! Sitting on your couch! This is only a TV show!!"

We're also watching the series "Doctor Who" (a non-J.J. Abrams production). But, unlike most, instead of starting with the more recent "reboot", we went back to the original, black and white, first episode. For me, I love a good story. I don't care if the ship in space is a model held up by really visible strings. Tell me a good story and I won't mind. The difference is, those effects weren't added in later. They were the actual scenes. The lens flairs added after the fact take me out of the story. It's like seeing the boom mic floating over the heads of the actors. You can't help but notice the mic, and then not even hear what they were saying.

So what's next, J.J.? What do you plan for Star Wars? Will we get flairs off of R2D2? Maybe off of the shaft of Luke Skywalker's light saber? Most likely, we'll get one on Tatooine, in a cave, without a single light source.

So please, for the sake of the story: stop it.

I wanted to post a bunch of pictures of lens flairs throughout this post, but I found something better. Below is a link to one of my favorite YouTube channels, Screen Junkies. They have what they call Honest Trailers. They are both hysterical and thought-provoking. After you watch this, you'll want to see all of them.


© Emittravel 2015

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