Space, the dusty frontier

The new Star Trek movie pretty much rocks, in a ‘mindlessly entertaining action romp’ sort of way. It looks great, rattles along nicely, and the humour gracefully avoids the Grating Curse of Jar-Jar Binks. Zachary Quinto‘s Spock is excellent – probably good enough for him to avoid being Sylar for the rest of his career – and the moment when Chris Pine‘s Kirk ‘Shats up’ is priceless. Draw a discrete veil over the astrophysics and the instantly-forgettable score, and it’s all good.

Well, mostly. I’ve one snark, and one more significant worry. The latter I’ll save for another post, but the snark is this:

I get that Abrams is trying to suggest action off-shot with all the lens flare, and I rather like the effect. In places the live-action look is reminiscent of Alwin Kuchler’s gorgeous cinematography on Sunshine, only with a white rather than black background to everything.

The CGI effect matches the style rather well, too – there’s some magnificent colouring work in the picture, and my, how CGI lens flare has progressed since the early days of the Video Toaster. But in All-New Trek the graphics folks have a new toy, and just like the early flare effects, they’ve seriously over-used it.

They’re simulating dirt on the lens.

Along with the flare, in the darker corners of the frames, there are weird nebulous diffuse/defocussed blobs, which to my eye looked like the effect you get from a dirty lens. Once I’d noticed them I couldn’t take me eyes off them – they’re damn everywhere in the CGI shots, and the result is distractingly ghastly. Space Dust used to pop on my tongue, not in my eye.

It’s doubtless a cute effect in moderation, but it’s taken way way way too far here. Any real camera op with lenses that dirty would be removed from the set. Come on, folks: keep your glass clean. Even if it’s virtual.

1 Comment

  1. You see, the dusty flare thing didn’t bother me at all. Not until the end credits.
    Speaking as someone who can’t remember if she’s seen any Star Trek or not, I found it fairly amusing and pretty. I even got some of the ‘in’ gags, although I’m certain most of them passed me by.
    I can’t comment on the character references, although I did spot Nimoy. I only realised Simon Pegg was in it as the credits rolled. I’d previously thought I only recognised him because he reminded me of Gavin.

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