star wars lens flare

Why JJ Abrams Likes Lens Flares

September 12th, 2017 by Mike Coughlin

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…



J.J. Abrams, who has remade your entire childhood, is back to finish the job.  The man who rebooted Star Trek and directed The Force Awakens will return to direct the Star Wars franchise.  I think it was Deadline that first reported a rumor, that’s now been confirmed by Disney, that Abrams will direct Star Wars Episode IX.  He will co-write the film with some dude named Chris Terrio.


This follows the recent departure of Colin Trevorrow from the final act of the current Star Wars trilogy.  That dude did Jurassic World and literally nothing else anyone has ever heard of.


This means episode nine will have 560 lens flares.


The announcement from Disney reads as follows:


J.J. Abrams, who launched a new era of Star Wars with The Force Awakens in 2015, is returning to complete the sequel trilogy as writer and director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio. Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Abrams, Bad Robot, and Lucasfilm.


“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy.



Why JJ Abrams Likes Lens Flares


Speaking of those flares, Abrams is well aware of them and loves them.  I found some article that grabbed quotes of his from an interview he did with Stephen Colbert.  Here’s what the man who took credit for Lost had to say:


“It has to mean something, right?” Colbert asked. “I’ll say that when we were doing Trek, I loved this idea — Now, of course, I’m going to explain this whole thing, but then when you say, well, there are 825 in ‘Super 8,’ I have no answer,” started Abrams. “The reason I wanted to do it was I love the idea that the future that they were in was so bright that it couldn’t be contained and it just sort of broke through —”


That’s a pretty stupid reason.


“Every time I’ve seen a movie, if you look at ‘Close Encounters,’ ‘Die Hard,’ which was just referenced, it’s an amazing thing that anamorphic lens, which is a lens that … There are spherical lenses and there are anamorphic lenses that have a different kind of compression,” said Abrams. “What you do is you expand the picture so on a 35 mm frame it gets basically crushed, and when you project it you use a lens that uncrushes it. But, what happens when you do that is you get these really cool oval background — when the sun’s out of focus — and lens flares on anamorphic lenses, that are not coded, if you must know, had this great streaky quality and I’ve always loved how that looks.”


I have no idea what this really means besides I think he’s full of shit and simply has a social tick that manifests itself in the form of lens flares.


“There are so many movies from my childhood that had those that when we were shooting ‘Star Trek’ I remember saying to Dan Mindel, the DP [director of photography], ‘It would be so much fun if we’ — I didn’t think we were going to have quite that number of them, but it became this thing, and it was ridiculous,” he said.


This man spends more time focused on his childhood than Freud.


“It became this weird kind of artform of how to make the perfect lens flares with different kind of lenses,” said Abrams. “And it was just this thing that sort of felt like it was a kind of visual system for the movie.”


The perfect lens flare.  Holy.  Fuck.


“I just fell in love with how it looked, and I was starting to get in trouble with it from people, because they were like, ‘Enough already,'” he recalled. “And then I did ‘Super 8,’ and I did a lot of them there, too.”


“I did a lot of them there, too.”  Sweet Jeezuz, man.  You’re helming multi-BILLION dollar intellectual properties and your attitude is, “LOOK AT THE FLASHING LIGHT.  IT AM PRETTY.”


“There was literally one scene where Alice Eve, who acts in the movie, was so obliterated by a lens flare and I was showing the scene to my wife Katie, who just said, ‘Okay, you know what? Enough. I can’t see what this scene is about. Who is standing there?'” Abrams recalled. ‘I’m like, ‘It’s Alice Eve.’ And she’s like, ‘I cannot see her!'”


How does a director not know that seeing things on screen is important?


“There are a couple [scenes] where you have to have them though because there’s a giant — there’s a moment where you go — we’re making sure that it looks photorealistic and photoreal,” assured Abrams. “But every time there could be a flare, because he [visual effects supervisor, Roger Guyett] knows that I’ve liked to do that a lot, I’ve said, ‘This is not the movie. These are not the flares you’re looking for.'”


That’s what he said about Episode VII.  They were a must.  The man could not make a movie unless it was fucking flaring all over the fucking place.  What a hero.



George Lucas will not be involved in Star Wars: Episode IX.



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