How does a cinema sin denoting careless technique become a cinema staple assuring authenticity and verisimilitude? That’s what Vox explores in its latest video on the history of the lens flare, tracing its place in film history from Citizen Kane (where it was studiously eliminated) to its absurd apogee in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films and beyond. The video also explains how different camera lenses create different kinds of flare, making it easy to spot exactly what equipment is annoying the viewer from scene-to-scene. It’s a good gloss on a peculiar tic of filmmaking that also gives a nod to Visions Of Light, a 1992 documentary that offers a much deeper dive on cinematography and is essential viewing for the kinds of people who find a video on lens flare interesting. That film is out of print, but there are quality copies floating around YouTube and other streaming sites.

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