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I'm talking about the look of the sun synonomous with Terrence Malick films. It was all of The Tree of Life, showed up a few times in To the Wonder, and I'm pretty sure a similar technique was used in Mud.


When the sun is in frame, it appears to have a circle of very defined lines portruding around it. How is this effect achieved? I know that Tree of Life shot using Ultra Primes, is this result achieved by stopping down the UPs? Or is this effect achieved using a filter?


Let me know your thoughts!







(The effect can be seen in both these stills)




Edited by Drew Angle
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The sun is about as natural and easily accessed 'spatial' step function that you can find that'll give you a quick analysis of your lens... What you see is effectively a plot of the lens characteristic. The hard part is unfortunately being able to interpret it - but there are some tricks as David points out - i.e. being able to count the iris blades.

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IMHO the "rays"/"lines" are the result of a filter, either a "Sternfilter" ("star filter"?) or a "Gitterfilter" ("cross screen filter"?):



There are various versions of these filters, resulting in a different number of "rays".



Edited by Joerg Polzfusz
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Terence Malick isn't using star filters on his lenses...


Anyone who shoots regularly runs across this phenomenon from stopping down the lens (and anyone who has used a star filter knows the issues that come with that, especially if you stop down the lens). I was even on the set of "Smash" a few months ago on a Broadway stage looking from the stage out into the bright spotlights pointed into the lens and had to stop down to f/8-11 to silhouette the singer and hide the fact that the house wasn't full of people... and the director at the monitor asked me if I had put a star filter on the camera.

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Thanlks for all of the responses. Wondering if anyone out there has any videos with the results that they have personally experienced. I would be interested in seeing an example and hearing the details. I.e. format, lenses f/stop, time of day.

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