Lens Flare: Movies Kicking You Out of the Movie

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Was watching a commercial tonight for Disney, and it opens with two Dumbo cart things flying through the city.  As they swing past us in that opening flight shot, there’s a lens flare, and…

…and I start thinking about lens flare, and I was thinking that Ripley and Tate don’t know what lens flare is, as they haven’t yet seen movies that uses gigantic lenses for the, for the glass of it, y’know?  Lens flare is an artifact of using glass lenses, and is something that’s become a cliche for computer-generated film folks, as it’s one of the first tools that people started playing with in Photoshop while making the pamphlets for their illegal rave, or their new Business Improvement Project, or whatever.

But it’s supposed to invoke the reality of an actual camera filming something, to make you think you’re watching film of Dumbo flying over the city.  That’s all well and fine for ME, ’cause I know what a camera looks like from the shoooter’s side, but do my kids know?  They have always known digital cameras, with framing your shot by looking at the little 1.5 inch screen on the back of the unit, and not looking through the lens, but only at what the result will be.

But with 3d movies and IMAX and jumbo televisions, I wonder if lens flare makes sense for kids’ films any more.  If I’m watching something like A Bug’s Life, and I’m pulled in.  When I watch Final Fantasy – Spirits Within, I’m in there, ’cause it’s so pretty, and the motion is so well done.  I’m good.  I’m there.

Lens flare though?  It puts a camera between me and the story.  I’m not IN the story, I’m watching a movie of the story.  I’m outside, at arm’s length, watching from my seat, not even looking through the lens.  I wonder why that is, (for me, at least).

Oddly, the opposite happened in Surf’s Up, when they rigged out the action in virtual space, and then put a real camera operator in a room, and captured his “filming” of the action, ’cause that’s what he was seeing through the eyepiece of the camera.  Somehow, that made us feel more like what we were seeing was immediate and real.  We were there, even though it was totally fake.  Our eyes know real camera work when we see it, I guess.

Neat.

Weird.  I just watched 8 minutes of utterly scripted material with Henry Winkler on Craig Ferguson.  I don’t even know why he was on as a guest, ’cause it was just a string of premise/joke non-stop the whole time.

Posted on November 28th 2009 in General, randomness
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