Season 2 of Netflix’s hit series “The Umbrella Academy” recently premiered. Shot by Neville Kidd, ASC using the Zeiss Supreme Prime Lenses. Zeiss interviewed Kidd about his lens choice, as well as his creative decisions when shooting the beautifully cinematic series.
ZEISS: You have been working with Large Format for a while now on various shows. What are your thoughts about Cinematic Large Format and was it a challenge to move from conventional S35 to shooting on the larger sensors?
NEVILLE KIDD, ASC: I love the look of the large format ARRI Alexa65, it has a very unique expansive cinematic way of perceiving the world. I find it behaves very much like the human eye. The large format sensor seeing everything, but with less distortion or optical bending on wide angle lenses compared to the S35 sensor.
You have been part of The Umbrella Academy series since the beginning. Tell us a bit about what went into the look and feel of the recreation of this famed American comic series.
We wanted Umbrella Academy to feel different. The look I wanted was just a few degrees off from reality. Nearly the same world, but not. A visual match to the Umbrella Academy reality, a world with no internet, no mobile phones and a talking monkey. The shallow depth of field on wider lenses (such as the 25mm and 29mm) on the Alexa65 gives a Large Format cinematic look, as the focus fall off is so unique adding to the look of this alternate world.
There are quite a few characters in The Umbrella Academy, and the ‘’The Umbrella Academy’’ itself. Did you have different considerations for each character in terms of lighting?
We created a different feel for each character in their own world, but when together they became a family. A slightly dysfunctional family, but with shared memories and experiences. I did this by lighting the family mansion as if it were itself a character. Keeping the world in a 360-degree view for filming, we aimed to keep lights off the floor and integrate them into the set as much as possible. We showed happy halcyon memories warm and golden and unhappier stressful times were tinged with a slight metallic ferrotype feel.
Was there a different approach taken with season 2 of The Umbrella Academy?
For Umbrella Academy season 2, a new story world demanded a different look. In order to transport the viewer to a new time period, we used Zeiss Supremes, which provided a fresh aesthetic.
Season 1 has quite a specific color palette, how did you find using ZEISS Supreme Primes in terms of color choices and skin tones, and in relation to creating the variety of looks in the show?
I found the Zeiss Supremes were the perfect lens for the look I was after, polished and cinematic, but not overly sharp and digital.
What were your thoughts about using the Supremes Primes in combination with the Alexa LF?
We carried an ARRI Alexa LF with our two Alexa65s for the duration of the show. The Supremes worked brilliantly with the LF and at 5K we were able to see their full potential on the Alexa65.
What focal lengths did you employ most for season 2?
On every show, I always enjoy figuring out which lenses are going to be our ‘go to lenses.’ On season 2 it was the 29mm and the 35mm. The 35mm has the most natural feel and it loved the cast. The 29mm worked brilliantly when following characters through the set during single takes: wide enough to show the world yet intimate enough to bring out their emotions when you didn’t want to cut to another shot.
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