Applications Make Adding Star Trek Lens Flares Easy + More Lens Flare Video Mashups |
jump to navigation

Applications Make Adding Star Trek Lens Flares Easy + More Lens Flare Video Mashups March 24, 2010

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Abrams,Fan Productions,Humor,Science/Technology,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback

Much has been said about JJ Abrams directing style in the 2009 Star Trek movie and copious lens flares. Well if you ever wanted to give your photos or videos the JJ Abrams Star Trek treatment there are apps for that. See below how you can add flare to your life, plus some examples lens flares being added to things to make them more…flarey.



Lens Flares? – There are apps for that

If you have Adobe Photoshop, adding a lens flare to a photo is not to hard to do (here is a tutorial to get you started). But that takes owning the software and all that time. Now a new application from Brain Fever Media called LensFlare makes it easy to do lens flares with your iPhone. It is available in the iTunes store for $0.99. Here is a demo video

The folks at io9 had some fun with the app, adding lens flares to some classic movie moments, check out their gallery at

"Star Wars" with lens flares
(click to see more at io9)

And if you are serious about your lens flares you can buy the  Video Copilot Optical Flares plug in for Adobe’s After Effects. The plug-in costs $124.95, but makes those flares come easy, check out the demo.


Lens Flare videos

Last May we showed a video from YouTuber partmor, which showed a 1960s preview from "The Space Seed", done JJ Abrams-style.

Here is more "Space Seed" with flare via JohnnyZito

And here is Star Trek VI with more lens flare (via wcleere).

Is it possible that in the future everything has lens flares? WoodenNickelShore asks this question.

And finally, our old friend Daren Dochterman posted this shot of his excellent model of the original Enterprise "futurized".



1. Hugh Hoyland - March 24, 2010

The Lensflares in Star Trek 09 didnt bother me in the least. It sounds like JJ wanted to add something different and unique to the visual that wasnt viewed in the previous movies. I say go for it, its a step in the right direction for that particular movie.

2. Scooter - March 24, 2010

Some of these are pretty cool! I did think it was a bit over done in the movie though.

3. Hugh Hoyland - March 24, 2010

Its kind of like the constant “rain” in Blade Runner. If ya know where Im coming from.

4. CmdrR - March 24, 2010

I’d rather have copious cleavage, a la vintage Bill Theiss.

I would hope that ST2012 finds a new trick or two.

5. BLFSisko - March 24, 2010

I hope JJ and his team understood the message !!! (the flares weren´t bad at all, but to many) [And give me back an engeenering ROOM !!!]

6. trekreturns - March 24, 2010

Daren always has kewl stuff…however as for the lens flares, I sure hope they keep them to a huge minimum in the next movie…please!

7. Sebastian - March 24, 2010

Oh come on; it wasn’t THAT bad. Yes, it was a tad overdone, but “Blade Runner” had lens flares, Close Encounters has lens flares (all over that ending, as I recall).

To me, the use of lens flares in Trek 2009 kind of gave me the effect of seeing that all-white pristine new bridge of the Enterprise-A at the end of Trek IV. I liked it, but I agree; a little less in the sequel might be a good thing, guys! ;)

8. Sebastian - March 24, 2010

And Daren Dochterman is a genius; he was funny as hell on the Trek panels I’ve seen him in at Comic Con, too.

9. Hugh Hoyland - March 24, 2010

Vulcan cleavage CmdrR (female that is) would be an nice addition! Lensflares are old hat, keep em in it, but more Female cleavage! Yes of course show male cleavage as well for those that are interested of course (Kirk’s ripped uniform for example).

10. Pyork (JE) - March 24, 2010

That short had some beautiful models, but the flares were too overbearing from the star

11. Lord garth, Formerly of Izar - March 24, 2010

I like the dirty Daren one the best

12. Andy Patterson - March 24, 2010

As silly and distracting as the lens flares are I like Daren’s use of them on the original Enterprise. Not that’s a lens flare I can live with.


“dirty Daren” that still makes me laugh.

RIP Robert Culp

13. Nemesis was Awesome - March 24, 2010

I really liked the effect and cant see what everyone is bitching about

14. Jeff - March 24, 2010

I really like the updated version of Space Seed.

15. Devon - March 24, 2010

I thought it worked well in several shots, but agree that it was overused after a while.

16. StevenMAW - March 24, 2010

5. I sympathize I want a legitimate engineering room as well, no Budgeneering.

17. SChaos1701 - March 25, 2010

I loved the lens flares. It gave it more of a sense of realism to me. It didn’t give me the sense that I was watching a movie but that a camera crew just happened to be there while the situation was occurring. And in that situation, you don’t have the time to set up the perfect shot.

18. Mark Lynch - March 25, 2010

Less lens flares, real engine room. ‘Nuff said.

19. captain_neill - March 25, 2010

my friend is tweaking up a film I had directed. He jokingly added a lens flare in one shot and we joked about how adding the lens flare now makes me a visionary director just like JJ Abrams.

seriously a few lens flares can be cool but the level that JJ Abrams did in Star Trek XI was overkill. I felt he actually ruined a lot of good shots with those dreaded lens flares especially when they washed out actors’ faces.

However I do agree with my friend that the lens flare did add something to the visual effects of the film.

20. captain_neill - March 25, 2010


I don’t want the documentary style shooting style all the time.

I love good old steadycam shots, dolly tracks and close ups. I like shots to be like art, crafted and designed, not shoot it on the fly.

21. Zebonka - March 25, 2010

Actually, I watched ST09 recently and it wasn’t the number of lens flares that sucked – it was the placement. Sometimes they just stank, they were totally incongruous. At others they at least matched the feel of the thing; however you feel about lens flares, at least they made sense.

I just think they didn’t know when to quit putting them in.

22. Ripper - March 25, 2010

I think its interesting that you mention VideoCoPilot.

VCP is run by Andrew Kramer who happened to design the titles for Star Trek 09

Closing Titles i think with all those planes and cast names. He might have even designed the opening title card.

23. Ripper - March 25, 2010

Not planes…planets

24. Damian - March 25, 2010

Do you have anything that can remove lens flares?

In all seriousness, Abrams went ape with the flares. And I agree with another poster that at times, I could not figure out why a flare was present.

I’m with #20 here. I go to the movies to escape reality. I can get real life by watching the evening news. Flares and shaky cameras make me have to take an Excedrin. Some otherwise beautiful shots in space were ruined by bright flashing and a camerman that looked like he was having a seizure. I noted before my favorite space scene was when the Narada was waiting for Spock to arrive–a nice steady camera and not a flare to be had.

25. PropperTrekkieUk - March 25, 2010

I think all these parody clips way overdone!! The lens flares in ST09 were well done…fact

26. vjeko1701 - March 25, 2010

Oh c’mon, since when do we need so much lens flares in star trek, that is why I prefer the original movies (From “The Cage” to Star Trek X: Nemesis) over the new jjtrek

27. Dom - March 25, 2010

The lens flares were intended to indicate a moment of danger or where the timeline was taking a different twist. That they appear constantly in every shot is a complete misconception. That’s the weakness with the Youtube clips.

Personally I had no problem with the lens flares and handheld cameras. The complaints demonstrate how conservative Trekkies have become, after years of rather bland Berman Trek stylings.

The lens flares were part of what made the new film so vital and alive!

28. captain_neill - March 25, 2010



29. Alientraveller - March 25, 2010

These make me appreciate Abrams and Mindel’s cinematography even more. They work well actually in the colourful set of the original show, but their presence on a dark Meyer bridge is highly illogical.

30. P Technobabble - March 25, 2010

The lens flares didn’t bother me, and I think far too much has been made of the matter. I wonder if any other director has been criticized as much for his choices in style?

27. Dom
I agree with you.

31. Dom - March 25, 2010

28. captain_neill

:p ;)

32. RK - March 25, 2010

Agree with #18

(much) less lens flares, real Engineering.
Rest was good (apart from the ridiculous control panels, without any continuous style )

33. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - March 25, 2010

Hey Bob Orci. How about this for the next title for the next Trek. . Star Trek Attack of the Lens Flares. I like it. It’s Exciting.

34. Paulaner - March 25, 2010


Dom, totally agreed. Every director trying something new is welcome. Trek has always been too conservative, in terms of styling.

35. ConstitutionNCC1700 - March 25, 2010

However you stand on the lens flares in the new Star Trek, one of the products mentioned in the original post (VideoCopilot Lens Flares) is good for making photon torpedoes too. I made this video the other day:

I made the phasers using this Light Saber tutorial:

36. Dom - March 25, 2010

34. Paulaner

Well . . . not always. TOS used quite a lot of handheld camerawork on the bridge and in corridors. The lighting was also extremely stylised and there was phenomenal use of colour, which looks gorgeous on the Blu-rays. Also, Nick Meyer used handheld in all the bridge scenes in TUC, feeling that the bridge was otherwise rather dull.

It’s with TNG onwards that the rather bland, supposedly ‘stately’ look, came in to effect. Compare any TNG-Ent project with the visual dynamism of Nick Meyer’s work or any of TOS directors/cinematographers and 80s-2000s Trek is actually something of a backwards step!

37. captain_neill - March 25, 2010

I guess I love the nicely crafted and designed shots.

But it seems flares and shaking the camera is the new revolution of film making. Soon they will shake the camera so much that motion sickness will occur while watching a film.

38. rogue_alice - March 25, 2010

My eyes!! The goggles do not work!!!

39. rogue_alice - March 25, 2010

“Every car this year will have holes in it’s sides.”

40. doug_skywalker - March 25, 2010

@17 – well said!

if you listen to any of the million comments that Abrams made about the flares, aside from the ‘documentary feel’ and such, he alos wanted to give the shots some life and maybe the impression that there was more going on than what was being shown in the always present Kirk/Spock bubble world. i know the movie is supposed to be about Kirk and Spock, but c’mon the whole darn universe doesn’t revolve wround those two. there were other people on that ship and other happenings as well. the falres, in my mind, were JJ’s way of adding depth and life to the otherwise static and sometimes lifeless Star Trek shots.

but that’s just me.

41. jas_montreal - March 25, 2010

theirs never any news about the trek sequel. I feel bored! Even rumors would be great !

42. Capt Mike of the Terran Empire - March 25, 2010

#41. Rumor. Bob Orci is considering naming the next movie. Star Trek. Lens Flares.

43. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - March 25, 2010

Those videos were sweet

44. Dom - March 25, 2010

37. captain_neill: ‘I guess I love the nicely crafted and designed shots.’

But, for the most part, they weren’t especially interesting. TOS demonstrated far greater dynamism and Babylon 5, for all the weaknesses of early CGI technology, had a sense of ambition that seemed lacking TNG and co.

I remember reading somewhere one of the people on those shows saying you ‘can’t’ have shots in Star Trek where the camera moves round the ship, where it’s upside down or whatever. And I used to think: ‘Why not?!’ A symptom of the dreaded Roddenberry Box again, I suppose!

‘But it seems flares and shaking the camera is the new revolution of film making. Soon they will shake the camera so much that motion sickness will occur while watching a film.’

But that’s the thing: it isn’t a revolution and it isn’t something I’m necessarily a fan of (Hello, Paul Greengrass!) But Trek using handheld camerawork and greater dynamism in FX shots is nothing new outside of the TNG universe. It’s just that people’s perceptions of what can be done in Trek have been blunted somewhat by years of rather self-limited, unambitious FX work!

45. Jane - March 25, 2010

# 13, 17, 27, I totally agree

I don’t know why everyone hates it so much. I loved it, and I loved the movie!!!

Anyway back to the article: so cool! I’m going to have a try with this! Thanks a bunch for submitting this article!

46. captain_neill - March 25, 2010

A director who crafted great shots on Star Trek was David Livingston.

He did these shots that were at weird angles, the way he shot Crossover and Distant Origin with weird angles, distorted close ups and low angels was more interesting than shaking the camera and add a lens flare.

I like the new movie, I really do but I have problems with it, but eveyone else seems to be in love with Abrams.

It ain’t the best ever but according to the majority on this site it seems to make me a deviant just because I don’t consider Star Trek XI the best ever Star Trek film.

47. mjmjr91 - March 25, 2010

i agree with 25… seriously… the vid with star trek vi? get serious lol.

the others were pretty good though.

as for the use of lense flares in Star Trek 09, i thought they did a good job of doing it effectively without going over the top. it’s not as bad as some people made it out to be…

48. Viking - March 25, 2010

‘I’d rather have copious cleavage, a la vintage Bill Theiss.’

‘Cleavage flares’? CmdrR, you may be onto something……. ;-)

49. Jane - March 25, 2010

whoops. “submitting”? I meant “posting”. sorry

50. VZX - March 25, 2010

I agree with most here:

Less lens flare


Less shakey-cam!!!!

It’s too distracting!

51. S. John Ross - March 25, 2010

While I did find the lens flares distracting, I think they’re a trivial matter when compared to the Trite Dialogue Flares, Plot Convenience Flares, and Deja Vu To The Better Movie This Moment Was Crudely Cut-And-Pasted From Flares.

52. JGG1701 - March 25, 2010

Neat! But I DON’T LIKE IT> :-(

53. Damian - March 25, 2010

My complaints regarding shaky camera syndrome extends beyond Star Trek. It is almost a novelty these days for a director to use steady shots. I am a huge Hitchcock and Kubrick fan, so I appreciate a good director when I see one. I love when a director is an added part of the film. Hitchcock used to treat the camera as almost another actor in the film. Gimmicks are supposed to enhance the story, not be the story. The fact that after almost a year, we are still talking about the gimmicks, means that they were probably used too much.

Just to be clear, there are things I did like about the film. The actors did a superb job of being the characters without being mocking. I found the story to be intriguing. I also liked the exterior ship design.

And there are things that bothered me other than lens flares and camermen with seizures. Set design–I hated engineering and the locations. Vulcan and Starfleet HQ looked nothing like that in previous shows and movies. I know JJ was going for new, but these could have been kept consistent without in any way affecting the story he was telling.

54. That guy... - March 25, 2010

Didn’t bother me in the slightest. I think what they were going for was something that added a touch of “realism” to the effects shots. While we don’t see lens flares with the naked eye, I think they managed to accomplish what they set out to do. There’s a “largeness” to the ships, etc and a realism that might not have been achieved with as much success without the flares as they did with them.

55. MikeTen - March 25, 2010

The Star Trek VI flares actually hurt my eyes. I don’t know if you can even call them flares, it was like balls of light moving across the screen.

56. Dr. Image - March 25, 2010

#53 Damian-
Yeah. And all this shaky camera stuff is long overdue for becoming passe.
Take Caprica (please!) for example. It’s become downright distracting. It detracts from the gravity of many scenes. Not to mention, with so many cameras featuring image stabilization these days, a shaky image is becoming even more of an anachronisim.
Garrett Brown, where are you??

57. Kirk's Girdle - March 25, 2010

Mildly amusing. Gets old real fast.

They used lens flare on the TuSpock video as well.

Gotta deal with that Hulu crap, but there it is.

58. Jim - March 25, 2010

I’m with Hugh the lens flares didn’t bother me at all. Now being forced to watch Avatar in 3D absolutely sucked. It gave me a headache and at about 45 minutes in the movie, I had to take the glasses off for about 15 minutes to give my eyes a break. No more 3D for me. One eye is near sighted, the other is far sighted, it really screwed with my eyes.

59. ryanhuyton - March 25, 2010

The lens flares in “Star Trek” didn’t bother me. However, like everything else, they have to be used in the right situations and can’t be overdone.
The lens flares in this movie worked because their was a shininess to most things like the bridge anyway.

60. S. John Ross - March 25, 2010

#58: “Now being forced to watch Avatar in 3D absolutely sucked.”

Being forced to do _anything_ sucks, as a rule.

Who forced you, and why?

61. James Tyler - March 26, 2010

I’m one of the people that didn’t notice the lens flare until there were the usual OTT complaints looking for something to focus on. The film was visually wonderful to look at.

It’s nice to take the piss and have a laugh, but like any joke it goes too far ;)

62. MrRegular - March 26, 2010

Thanks for this information! This could come in handy with a few websites I am developing!

63. Will - March 26, 2010

Just be grateful JJ did not go ahead with his original idea, which was “lens cap” to convey the blackness of space.

64. Dom - March 28, 2010

60. S. John Ross: ‘Who forced you, and why?’

Certainly, in London, it’s very hard to find 2D releases of 3D films anywhere. As a result, I can already see the 3D backlash coming. Loads of people have eye problems and have difficulty watching the films and the glut of ‘upconverted’ (ie 2D turned into 3D) films coming next year means a substantial minority of us are simply going to wait for 2D DVDs and Blu-rays.

Even James Cameron has said he can see all the pioneering work he did with Avatar going down the toilet because every other blockbuster is being shoved out in 3D whether it needs to be or not!

Every time I see another 3D release announced, I say ‘Oh crap! Another film I can’t see in the cinema!’ It a shame because it means I probably won’t get to see Star Trek ‘2’ at the pictures!

captain_neill, you aren’t a ‘retard’ or a ‘freak’ or a ‘deviant’ or whatever other hurtful word you can dream up for yourself. Just chill out a bit though! ;)

65. Miranda - March 28, 2010

Lens flare is a valid technique; although prior to the 1960s, it was considered a “mistake” and filming would stop if the lens flared. (See Cool Hand Luke for an example of strategic use of flares)

In mainstream narrative filmmaking, visuals/sound are generally (but not always) subordinate to the plot, helping to make a point visually. My objection to flares in ST is that they were sometimes used indiscriminately without any relation to the narrative point of a particular scene. For example, in scenes where the dramatic point is intense character conflict, such as the Spock-Kirk fight in ST09, flares obscured their faces at times. I say that you should trust your actors to carry the scene there, and this scene WAS about Kirk and Spock. I wanted to watch the flow of the acting, not another flare. However, my objection is not just based upon a personal preference.

In some scenes, they did add visual dynamism, but Mr. Abrams’ claim that flares kept shots from being sterile is overstated; there are many ways to keep a shot (even a digital effects shot) from being sterile: color, camera movement, sound, and most effectively – the actors. The human element is the primary way of avoiding “sterility” in a film. The excessive claims being made for the use of flares do not hold up well to examination.

66. Dom - March 28, 2010

65. Miranda

Yikes! Enter Cahiers du Cinema!

The Kirk/Spock fight was not just about them: it was about the timeline correcting itself and therefore the use of flares was entirely valid.

Their usage is far more limited in the film than people are making out anyway. Mostly it’s to do with overly conservative TNG fans being afraid of a new team doing something different with Star Trek!

67. Miranda - March 28, 2010

Dear Dom,

Thank you for your feedback.

I would disagree on two points. First, character conflict still trumps – as character action is the mechanism through which the plot plays out onscreen. Second, your statement that a “scene is about the timeline, therefore flares are valid” needs explanation. How do lens flares communicate or emphasize timeline correction?

i don’t really wish to get into a lengthy argument with you, but just wanted to answer. And if I may say so, the flares are extremely dominant; one of my assistants did a shot by shot analysis to count the flares.

I cannot argue whether or not ST fans are afraid of new things being done with the franchise – quite possibly that is true, but I lack knowledge of the fan community. My interest in this particular item about ST stems from my professional interest in cinema techniques/technologies.

68. 24th Century Rockstar - March 29, 2010

OMG, THANK YOU Daren Dochterman for showing us, YET AGAIN, that with a little touching up, the original Big E STILL looks great on a big screen!

– 24th CRS!

69. Dom - March 29, 2010

67. Miranda

‘Dear Dom,’

Er, hello!

‘Thank you for your feedback.’

Pleasure! :)

‘I would disagree on two points.’

Please do!

‘First, character conflict still trumps – as character action is the mechanism through which the plot plays out onscreen.’

Yup! Not seeing a problem with the lens flares though!

‘Second, your statement that a “scene is about the timeline, therefore flares are valid” needs explanation. How do lens flares communicate or emphasize timeline correction?’

No, let me correct you! I said: ‘The Kirk/Spock fight was not ***just*** about them: it was about the timeline correcting itself and therefore the use of flares was entirely valid,’ not ‘[the] scene is about the timeline, therefore flares are valid’.

If you’re going to dissect my argument with misquotes, you might at least wait until a few posts have gone past before trying to pretend I said something I didn’t! ;)

In ST09, when an event happens that has a major affect on the Trek universe, the flares sneak in. When the Kelvin encounters the Narada, we get lens flares. When Kirk fights Spock, it ultimately leads to Spock’s loss of command and Kirk gaining it!

‘i don’t really wish to get into a lengthy argument with you, but just wanted to answer.’

Then please don’t post on a discussion forum! I, like most people, come here to chat and discuss, not make sweeping statements like your’s and expect people to bow down to a supposed ‘superior knowledge’ because you happen to write in a supercilious, supposedly all-knowing, tone! Do you really think you can add anything to a discussion by throwing in one post then buggering off down the local boozer? ;) A short discussion takes at least a few posts!

‘And if I may say so, the flares are extremely dominant; one of my assistants did a shot by shot analysis to count the flares.’

No, you may not say so! Your assistant possibly can, though, because you clearly can’t be bothered to count them yourself!

‘I cannot argue whether or not ST fans are afraid of new things being done with the franchise – quite possibly that is true, but I lack knowledge of the fan community.’

So why bother to come here as you clearly can’t be bothered to find out about us?

‘My interest in this particular item about ST stems from my professional interest in cinema techniques/technologies.’

No it doesn’t: you said earlier that it was about story and character!


Pip pip! ;) is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.