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J.J. Abrams admits that he is addicted to lens flares

Sep. 30, 2013by: Alex Maidy

For all of you worried that J.J. Abrams was going to overload STAR WARS: EPISODE VII with his trademark lens flares, you can rest a little easier today. Abrams now realizes that he has a problem and is doing what he can to fix it. The director of flare-heavy flicks such as STAR TREK and SUPER 8 acknowledged to Crave Online that he is not ignorant to those who mock his camera technique. Here is what he told them when asked:

"I know I get a lot of grief for that. But I'll tell you, there are times when I'm working on a shot, I think, 'Oh this would be really cool with a lens flare.' But I know it's too much, and I apologize. I'm so aware of it now. I was showing my wife an early cut of Star Trek Into Darkness and there was this one scene where she was literally like, 'I just can't see what's going on. I don't understand what that is.' I was like, 'Yeah, I went too nuts on this.'

This is how stupid it was. I actually had to use ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] to remove lens flare in a couple of shots, which is, I know, moronic. But I think admitting you're an addict is the first step towards recovery."

Wait, he actually had to remove flares from STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS? Wow, that is a lot of flare. While I don't think STAR WARS: EPISODE VII will be flare free, at least now we know it won't be as overindulgent as in his prior films. Now, if only J.J. Abrams could go back and have ILM fix his other movies we would be all set.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII opens in 2015.

Source: Crave

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2:23AM on 10/03/2013
Lens flares give the impression of realness, of there being a sun or a real source of light in the shot being filmed. It's something that dates back to the heyday of Amblin. If used properly, it can give a sense of being in the moment. However it was seriously overused in Into Darkness and took away the natural feel of the movie. I'm glad he's learned to live with his addiction... However, the cgi heavy scenes in which the camera zooms in and doesn't lose focus are incredible. Those shots give
Lens flares give the impression of realness, of there being a sun or a real source of light in the shot being filmed. It's something that dates back to the heyday of Amblin. If used properly, it can give a sense of being in the moment. However it was seriously overused in Into Darkness and took away the natural feel of the movie. I'm glad he's learned to live with his addiction... However, the cgi heavy scenes in which the camera zooms in and doesn't lose focus are incredible. Those shots give the feeling of realness, of being able to zoom into real action without losing focus. Keep a few of those in Star Wars, a few less lens flares, and lose the Abrams pattented soundtrack and we're set!
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4:22PM on 10/01/2013

JJ Abrams is good at one thing.

and that's taking something that shouldn't be cool and making it "of the moment". Having said that, once his moment has passed, he tends turn to turn out mediocre and just like everyone else. So...I have absolutely no hope for the new Star Wars movie and I really do wish that they would have had someone else direct and write the second Star Trek movie. JJ is not that great...in sheer terms of producing a quality blockbuster that people actually want to see. Good luck to all you Star Wars
and that's taking something that shouldn't be cool and making it "of the moment". Having said that, once his moment has passed, he tends turn to turn out mediocre and just like everyone else. So...I have absolutely no hope for the new Star Wars movie and I really do wish that they would have had someone else direct and write the second Star Trek movie. JJ is not that great...in sheer terms of producing a quality blockbuster that people actually want to see. Good luck to all you Star Wars fans. Thank god us Trekkies don't have to deal with him as much anymore.
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11:25AM on 10/01/2013
As much as I hate to admit this because I usually notice a lot of details when watching movies but I can't think of one lense flare that I remember from Into Darkness. There's obviously going to be a few in Star Wars because it's one of his trademarks but I'm sure it won't be on the level of Star Trek 2009.
As much as I hate to admit this because I usually notice a lot of details when watching movies but I can't think of one lense flare that I remember from Into Darkness. There's obviously going to be a few in Star Wars because it's one of his trademarks but I'm sure it won't be on the level of Star Trek 2009.
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9:27AM on 10/01/2013
I think he filmed Star Trek just the way it should have been filmed. But yeah Star Wars should be different. More dust and dirt and less shiny surfaces.
I think he filmed Star Trek just the way it should have been filmed. But yeah Star Wars should be different. More dust and dirt and less shiny surfaces.
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8:36AM on 10/01/2013
Yep, the first stage is admitting he has a problem (did they have some sort of intervention for him?) and it's not like he has to go cold turkey - just try cutting down to maybe two or three lens flares a day and take it from there.
Yep, the first stage is admitting he has a problem (did they have some sort of intervention for him?) and it's not like he has to go cold turkey - just try cutting down to maybe two or three lens flares a day and take it from there.
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+2
2:33AM on 10/01/2013
This is actually pretty funny. I like that he can joke around about it. It never really bothered me, but for the sake of the fans and the audience, it's nice he's aware and will try to tone it down.
This is actually pretty funny. I like that he can joke around about it. It never really bothered me, but for the sake of the fans and the audience, it's nice he's aware and will try to tone it down.
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1:11AM on 10/01/2013

Never had a problem with it

And kinda like it. Eff the haters, J.J.!
And kinda like it. Eff the haters, J.J.!
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+4
12:51AM on 10/01/2013

I don't mind the lens flare, it's kind of nostalgic.

I'm always happy to hear that a filmmaker pays attention to their audience. I'm glad to hear Abrams will tone it down, but the lens flares are not bad, there is a nostalgic look about them. How about a director admitting to making some crappy films, looking your way Mr. Bay, and all Twilight directors.
I'm always happy to hear that a filmmaker pays attention to their audience. I'm glad to hear Abrams will tone it down, but the lens flares are not bad, there is a nostalgic look about them. How about a director admitting to making some crappy films, looking your way Mr. Bay, and all Twilight directors.
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12:04AM on 10/01/2013
Good he admits it. Lens flares only works in very few occasions, but there is a reason several thousand dollar matte boxes & french flags exist for cameras, to help avoid lens flares & glare like that. It is traditionally considered a mistake worthy of a reshoot if a lens flare catches the lens (which can easily happen around studio lights). The main problem with lens flares is that it breaks the fourth wall & distracts from the picture.
Good he admits it. Lens flares only works in very few occasions, but there is a reason several thousand dollar matte boxes & french flags exist for cameras, to help avoid lens flares & glare like that. It is traditionally considered a mistake worthy of a reshoot if a lens flare catches the lens (which can easily happen around studio lights). The main problem with lens flares is that it breaks the fourth wall & distracts from the picture.
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11:59PM on 09/30/2013
So is Abrams taking up the 12 steps?
So is Abrams taking up the 12 steps?
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-1
11:49PM on 09/30/2013
Love the Lens Flare JJ keep it up hope he fills Star Wars up with lens flare, I don't see anything wrong with it look at the work of John McTiernan and Tony Scott they both used it. It's JJ's trademark and his artistic choice
Love the Lens Flare JJ keep it up hope he fills Star Wars up with lens flare, I don't see anything wrong with it look at the work of John McTiernan and Tony Scott they both used it. It's JJ's trademark and his artistic choice
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11:23PM on 09/30/2013
That picture = Lens Flare Overloaded!!
That picture = Lens Flare Overloaded!!
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10:44PM on 09/30/2013
Meh, the lens fare in Star Trek didn't really bother me. I didn't really notice how much there was until people pointed out. I did notice Into Darkness had a lot less flare but still, the flare didn't bug me anyways.
Meh, the lens fare in Star Trek didn't really bother me. I didn't really notice how much there was until people pointed out. I did notice Into Darkness had a lot less flare but still, the flare didn't bug me anyways.
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9:32PM on 09/30/2013
Now that I think about it I noticed all the barcode scanners around the bridge a hell of a lot more then lens flares the first time I watched the movie
Now that I think about it I noticed all the barcode scanners around the bridge a hell of a lot more then lens flares the first time I watched the movie
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8:40PM on 09/30/2013
I didn't notice them until pointed out to me. Then that was all I could see in Trek 09. They were def less in Into Darkness. But yeah... they don't bother me...just amuse me
I didn't notice them until pointed out to me. Then that was all I could see in Trek 09. They were def less in Into Darkness. But yeah... they don't bother me...just amuse me
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7:58PM on 09/30/2013
I don't even notice them. Feel like I go online & a vast majority is bitching that their front lawn is green....
I don't even notice them. Feel like I go online & a vast majority is bitching that their front lawn is green....
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7:35PM on 09/30/2013
I'm seriously not bothered by it at all. There are directors who are addicted to explosions, making every scene take place during magic hour, frenetic editing, shaky cam and filming the action way too close. That, I'm bothered by.
I'm seriously not bothered by it at all. There are directors who are addicted to explosions, making every scene take place during magic hour, frenetic editing, shaky cam and filming the action way too close. That, I'm bothered by.
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7:34PM on 09/30/2013
I don't even notice them. Feel like I go online & a vast majority is bitching that their front lawn is green....
I don't even notice them. Feel like I go online & a vast majority is bitching that their front lawn is green....
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7:32PM on 09/30/2013

I actually kinda like it

I think it makes his movies less sterile and more "realistic" like someone was actually there with a camera while this was actually happening.
I think it makes his movies less sterile and more "realistic" like someone was actually there with a camera while this was actually happening.
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6:53PM on 09/30/2013
I don't think I'd notice as much if it wasn't pointed out all the time. If that's the only flaw in his otherwise solid resume of films, then things are looking good for Episode VII. Also, the fact he can poke fun at it himself is refreshing.

Lens Flare the movie was pretty funny though.
I don't think I'd notice as much if it wasn't pointed out all the time. If that's the only flaw in his otherwise solid resume of films, then things are looking good for Episode VII. Also, the fact he can poke fun at it himself is refreshing.

Lens Flare the movie was pretty funny though.
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+3
6:46PM on 09/30/2013

It could be worse.....

.....he could use doves during every crucial scene (or only be able to blow stuff up to display his emotions).

There are plenty of bad directors who use really stupid crutches too often.
.....he could use doves during every crucial scene (or only be able to blow stuff up to display his emotions).

There are plenty of bad directors who use really stupid crutches too often.
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6:42PM on 09/30/2013

Let JJ be JJ

I've always seen it as more of a hipster complaint than anything real. Die Hard and most of Spielberg's work is chock full of lens flares but no one ever bitched cuz Collegehumor didn't exist in the 80s.

Seriously, JJ, be open to change and contrary opinion, and certainly work with those you are collaborating with, but don't start focus grouping your work.

Make Star Wars feel fresh, fun, memorable, exciting and relevant again. And don't listen to the fanboys, least of all me.
I've always seen it as more of a hipster complaint than anything real. Die Hard and most of Spielberg's work is chock full of lens flares but no one ever bitched cuz Collegehumor didn't exist in the 80s.

Seriously, JJ, be open to change and contrary opinion, and certainly work with those you are collaborating with, but don't start focus grouping your work.

Make Star Wars feel fresh, fun, memorable, exciting and relevant again. And don't listen to the fanboys, least of all me.
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6:41PM on 09/30/2013
Honestly I just watched Super 8 and by comparison to the Star Treks, I didnt notice the flares. They dont bother me but I do poke fun at it. Would be funny if he pulled a Lucas and released altered versions except removing the stuff people complain about
Honestly I just watched Super 8 and by comparison to the Star Treks, I didnt notice the flares. They dont bother me but I do poke fun at it. Would be funny if he pulled a Lucas and released altered versions except removing the stuff people complain about
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6:29PM on 09/30/2013
I am the only one that barely notices them?
I am the only one that barely notices them?
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6:28PM on 09/30/2013
I love the lens flare when the shield from the U.S.S. Kelvin is dropped at the beginning of Star Trek. Love it. Love it. Love it!

However, the CGI lens flares that originate off camera in a mechanically impossible way? I could lose those.
I love the lens flare when the shield from the U.S.S. Kelvin is dropped at the beginning of Star Trek. Love it. Love it. Love it!

However, the CGI lens flares that originate off camera in a mechanically impossible way? I could lose those.
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6:23PM on 09/30/2013
Even though it should seem fairly noticeable. I genuinely never consciously noticed it until I saw someone complain about it from the first Star Trek movie years ago. It's like one of those things that your eyes and mind kind of phase out unless you're kind of trying to notice it. If you look for it, then it's like, "GEEZUS CHRIST CUT IT OUT!"
Even though it should seem fairly noticeable. I genuinely never consciously noticed it until I saw someone complain about it from the first Star Trek movie years ago. It's like one of those things that your eyes and mind kind of phase out unless you're kind of trying to notice it. If you look for it, then it's like, "GEEZUS CHRIST CUT IT OUT!"
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6:42PM on 09/30/2013
Same here
Same here
6:13PM on 09/30/2013
Super 8 had a lot of lens-flare, but Star Trek 2 was just right for me. I enjoy a bit of lens-flare, give me that nostalgic feeling.
Super 8 had a lot of lens-flare, but Star Trek 2 was just right for me. I enjoy a bit of lens-flare, give me that nostalgic feeling.
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6:10PM on 09/30/2013
Thank God! I liked both Super 8 & Into Darkness, but the lens flares are a bit annoying.
Thank God! I liked both Super 8 & Into Darkness, but the lens flares are a bit annoying.
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5:59PM on 09/30/2013
Didn't think the lens flare was that bad in Into Darkness.
Didn't think the lens flare was that bad in Into Darkness.
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5:57PM on 09/30/2013
Lens Flares are over-used. Glad he recognizes this, finally. I don't care who did it first, but I am glad he realizes he needs to cut back on Lens Flare: The Movie.
Lens Flares are over-used. Glad he recognizes this, finally. I don't care who did it first, but I am glad he realizes he needs to cut back on Lens Flare: The Movie.
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5:52PM on 09/30/2013
His director trademark is perfectly fine. People goof on him because various ad agencies and production companies copy his aesthetic in various promotional advertisements and movie trailers. Once you see it everywhere, it's easy to follow it's source and goof on the man who made it popular.
His director trademark is perfectly fine. People goof on him because various ad agencies and production companies copy his aesthetic in various promotional advertisements and movie trailers. Once you see it everywhere, it's easy to follow it's source and goof on the man who made it popular.
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