Star Trek XI Director J.J. Abrams explained why he did certain things in making the movie, such as using plenty of lens flares and not having the film shot digitally.
As reported by Post Magazine, Abrams elected to have Star Trek XI shot in 35mm anamorphic instead of having it done digitally as is often the case with science-fiction films. “I knew this movie would have a great deal of computer generated visual effects in it and I knew that’s the reason Star Wars films have been shot with a great deal of blue or greenscreen and digitally, and I was nervous about that,” said Abrams. “I wanted this film to feel distinct from those. I didn’t want to have a given about how many effects would be created. I didn’t want there to be this artifice to the movie, even though it’s called Star Trek, even though it’s a fantasy future sci-fi. I wanted it to feel as sort of tangible and gritty and real as possible.” “…And so for me the approach to the movie was, I wanted wherever we could to be practical and to be analog, because there was going to be a whole bunch of virtual and digital, so wherever we could add the realism by literally making it real I thought would help the aesthetics,” said Abrams. “So we built sets and found locations as much as possible and dressed them or extended sets.”
As for those frequent lens flares seen in the movie, Abrams had a reason for doing them. “We added them on the set, not post, because I wanted to give the film that sense of unpredictability,” he explained. “There’s something about lens flares, beyond the aesthetic of ‘the future’s so bright you can’t contain it in the frame.’ I wanted that beautiful interaction between light and glass that you can’t control, to add to the tangible analog human imperfect quality that’s increasingly hard to find in these kind of films.”
Abrams also spoke about the visual effects, including which were the most difficult to do. “[There were] well over 1,000,” he said. “ILM did the movie, then Digital Domain did Scotty in the pipes sequences, and Lola did the green-skin girl, and Svengali did the set extensions and Starfleet auditorium scenes, adding on there. They also did some great work on a prison sequence, which we ended up cutting. It’s one of my favorite visual effects, but it had to go.”
“For me, the most tricky and exciting shots were the ones incorporating practical elements, where you connect that with the digital elements,” said Abrams. “The Polarilla chase scene on the ice was very hard to get right and we kept working on that. That took a very long time. And getting the look of the transporter effect to work took a long time.”
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