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Stranger Things (Netflix series)

Red Dragon Leica Winona Ryder Duffer Brothers Spielberg Carpenter Stephen King David Harbour Netflix Sci-fi

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#1 Manu Delpech

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 01:29 PM

Surprised to see no one talking about it. This is a new show by The Duffer Brothers (who directed an indie thriller Hidden, and wrote a couple of episodes of the first season of Wayward Pines) on Netflix. It starts Winona Ryder, David Harbour (who's everywhere these days ^^), Matthew Modine and a bunch of wonderful kid actors y'all be hearing about soon enough.

 

It's set in the 80's, and basically, it's a mashup of everything you love if you're into that stuff, meaning it has elements of sci-fi mode Spielberg, ala E.T, Super 8, Stephen King, you got a group of kids, one of them disappearing, a weird girl in a hospital gown that runs into them and is special, you got the kids on bikes, you got the heavy sci-fi element, the mystery element, the supernatural element, the great soundtrack with a heavy synth score, wonderful cinematography and you get a not to miss show.

 

Tim Ives (Mr Robot pilot) shot the hell out of it, it's basically a series that looks like it cost much more than it probably did, extremely high production values, fantastic cinematography, shot on Red Dragon and Leica lenses (confirmed to me by Tim Ives).

 

Binge it, embrace it, love it. 


Edited by Manu Delpech, 16 July 2016 - 01:31 PM.

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#2 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 16 July 2016 - 07:05 PM

You won't enjoy me saying so,  but I didn't really like it (first 2 episodes).

 

The homage or whatever to Spielberg was not kind to me.  I was waiting for the kids on bikes to start flying through the air.  I wondered if the show steered off half a degree more and it would be slightly parodic.  Of Spielberg's forms and character shapes of the ET erra.  And I really dislike some of the modern tendencey to the parodic.

 

I don't like watching a show,  that I'm clearly suposed to admire,  and it feels,  tropey......


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#3 Manu Delpech

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 05:41 AM

Your opinion but having seen 4 episodes, I feel it totally transcends those influences and stands on its own.


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#4 KH Martin

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Posted 17 July 2016 - 10:41 PM

Yeah, I've seen four and think this is what I was waiting and hoping to get with the TWIN PEAKS 2017 - I've been genuinely thrilled. they did good with casting it too.

 

Ryder might be a little one-note, but that's a quibble.


Edited by KH Martin, 17 July 2016 - 10:42 PM.

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#5 Bruce Southerland

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 07:38 PM

I've just watched episode one--like the directing, loved the cinematography!
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#6 Bruce Southerland

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 07:50 PM

I've got to say that this did not feel like Spielberg at all to me. Super 8 absolutely felt that way, but this piece feels original so far.


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#7 Nathan Thompson

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 10:51 PM

I fell in love with this series from episode 1. Initially because of the casting and some of the early character development. Even some of the fairly standard dining scenes were entertaining because of the dialogue, edit and how the characters played off one another. The series has a nice build, especially to some pretty hard-hitting moments in the season finale where the lighting just cuts to the bone in a few shots. For this type of stuff I'm not hard to win over though. I think you could call me a sucker for it.

 

Did Tim offer any specifics on what Leica's were used? New or old? Beautiful look indeed. 


Edited by Nathan Thompson, 18 July 2016 - 10:52 PM.

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#8 Manu Delpech

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 05:34 AM

I've got to say that this did not feel like Spielberg at all to me. Super 8 absolutely felt that way, but this piece feels original so far.

 

There are a lot of nods throughout the series, wait for it. It's more Stephen King overall, but really it's a mash of everything. 

 

The kids are extraordinary in the show. The lighting is insane in some of the later episodes (namely 5 and 6), still got two more to go. Tim didn't give me any specifics, I'd say Summilux based on the look, they clearly added some film grain in post which was especially apparent to me in some flashback sequences, I think it makes a big difference. 


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#9 Manu Delpech

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 10:06 AM

What a great first season and tease for the second one. Massive Goonies feel to it too overall.


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#10 Luke Lenoir

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 02:09 PM

Your opinion but having seen 4 episodes, I feel it totally transcends those influences and stands on its own.

 

It's weird, but it totally does!

 

The influences are obvious, but nothing really comes off as a blatant rip-off. The story is unique in a way, like you've seen it all before but not quite like this.

 

I worked on this show while it was filming. It was a lot of all-nighters in the cold. I had no idea it was going to turn out how it did.

 

After I heard about it, I couldn't wait until it aired. It seemed like the perfect amalgamation of 80s tv/movies I grew up on. It's definitely more Stephen King inspired, but the nods to Spielberg and Carpenter and many others are definitely there. I'm six episodes in so far, and I'm enjoying it. The character's are fleshed out rather well, but it's the individual subplots that really give it its emotional bottom. 

 

My main criticisms of the show though, are the pacing and the visuals. I think the plot around the monster/conspiracy could be a little thicker, i.e. a slower reveal. And as far as the visuals go, it's really missing the classic 80's widescreen pastel hued production design look:

 

poltergeistbird.jpg

 

Some of the set-pieces are just too dark, and the orange color-cast just screams digital. I sort of wish they'd put it on film.

 

Overall I think its a great show and a welcome change. I know a lot of people have wanted something like it for a long time.


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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 July 2016 - 03:46 PM

I've been catching it on and off while i was out in ABQ at a friend's shooting. Seems really interesting; but in truth, I'm not a huge fan of the look-- it just seems a little bit too harsh for me-- too digital. I wish they could've used an Alexa-- the "redness" of it is it's undoing for me


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#12 Manu Delpech

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Posted 20 July 2016 - 04:31 AM

Interesting comments, I love how cinematic it is, the Duffer brothers said they wanted sort of that 80s grain so they had their colorist add some grain in post. I think for me it's the show with the best cinematography I've seen so far, and that includes Breaking Bad, Mr Robot, True Detective (S1), Boardwalk Empire, Daredevil, House Of Cards, etc.

 

The dark setpieces, you mean the Upside Down? because I've never seen something so cinematic in a tv series before, looks gorgeous. The flashbacks in the facility are striking too. Red does have a different look than the Alexa, I like the Alexa (although film destroys both, plus Alexa no native 4K, that's why), but I feel the Red has a more interesting & grittier texture, it feels more interesting to me, does it look digital? yeah, so does the Alexa. I don't think film was ever an option, you'd think with the 4K deliverable, they could shoot on film and do a 4K scan but I guess no one thinks about it. 

 

They really nailed the 80s settings. Season 2 is supposed to be a go (if not, soon !), and the Duffer bros said they have much more to explore, same characters.


Edited by Manu Delpech, 20 July 2016 - 04:33 AM.

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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 11:31 PM

Did anyone else notice that there was no DP credit for the first few episodes? Really odd. I think the first one appeared around episode 3 or 4. Perhaps not coincidentally, I thought the cinematography was a bit uneven in the pilot, but got much more consistent as the show progressed. The night exterior woods scene with Nancy and Jonathan that transitions into the Upside Down world was especially well done.
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#14 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 12:48 AM

Common sense should say that all thoughts about this show are offered on the same thread.  But,  just to alert you,  some thoughts about it do reside on anther thread....

http://www.cinematog...e=9#entry462411


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#15 Jay Young

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 12:20 PM

Did anyone else notice that there was no DP credit for the first few episodes? Really odd. I think the first one appeared around episode 3 or 4. Perhaps not coincidentally, I thought the cinematography was a bit uneven in the pilot, but got much more consistent as the show progressed. The night exterior woods scene with Nancy and Jonathan that transitions into the Upside Down world was especially well done.

 

This is exactly how I felt.  The pilot was crap, and really turned me off.  But, by episode 4, I was in all the way

COME ONE SEASON 2 TAKE MY MONEY!


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#16 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 12:59 PM

Just finished watching the series, over the course of 2 days, whilst in I'm in the middle of cutting two features. Once I watched the first episode, I was totally hooked and made the time to watch all 8 in 48hrs.

The credit music and that old school opening credit sequence, was really drove me to keep watching. Anyone who wanted that kind of old school look, done "properly", wasn't going to let me down story wise and they did a good job.

One thing about the show that I loved is that they did exactly what I wanted them to do. Today's content is so predictable, they always put characters in bad situations and kill them off right when they start to figure things out. This show had multiple chances to do things like that and they didn't go that way. To me, that was a master stroke because you could now connect with the characters in a way in most modern shows you can't. I also loved the over-arching plot, it was really simple and it worked! Sure, they could have gone more sci-fi, but it wasn't about that, it was about this small town and the people who live in it.

The production design, sets and actors were perfect for the show. They absolutely nailed the 80's and I give them HUGE credit where so many filmmakers screwed up. The cinematography in of itself, wasn't bad at all. I never once said, that was poorly lit. In fact, I commended the 80's vibe they were getting and actually would like to watch again, just to study some of the tricks in more detail. Shooting on 2 perf 35mm would have absolutely saved their ass, but now a days, people never even contemplate that, especially for a television show. I agree on most shows, it doesn't matter, but on a show like this, it would have been super cool and could have hidden a lot of the issues.

Now for the two big mistakes... one, shooting on RED. What a god awful decision that was. First few shots I knew it was RED and honestly I almost shut it off. In my eyes, it's such a poor decision for a show like this, where you want a more classic 80's look, I thought the show runners would probably mess it up after that RED decision. Obviously the content and characters drove me to continue watching and since I watched the entire series on my 17" macbook pro, the crisp digital look wasn't too concerning. It was just not a great decision in my mind, but they did make it work because they pushed the show to be more character driven then visual.

Second big mistake, CG effects... Not smart. Really poor move. I can't honestly recommend any of my Sci-Fi friends watch this series because they will blame me the moment they see those not good CG effects. They didn't even try to make the effects look good, they were just poor all the way through. Yet another case of not quite knowing their audience (like the RED choice). Luckily, the visual effect shots are far in between, so you only have to cringe a once or twice per episode.

So yea, I can't wait for another season, I just hope the series does well enough that they wind up doing another season. Hopefully they can do more practical effects next time around. I personally enjoyed the show for the content, but I know a lot of people where that's not enough. It was 2 small steps away from being really something special, but kinda ruined thanks to the camera and CG effects.
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#17 Manu Delpech

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 01:09 PM

I have no idea what the problem is that some people are having with the RED Dragon. Otherwise, the CG effects are actually practical for the head, the rest is CG, the truck flipping for example: real as well. 

 

And of course they were going to shoot Red, they need a 4K deliverable (native), and film was without a doubt not an option.

 

Watching it projected on a 100 inch screen, it looks top notch. 


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 01:23 PM

Yea, I know Netflix requires a 4k digital source. However, at 2:1 aspect ratio, that deliverable is nowhere near 4k. So they clearly CAN bend the rules. Nowhere in the deliverable requirements, does it mention the source must be digital.

Devils in the details with the RED cameras, they're overly crisp, so you need to do quite a bit of work making them soft shooting and in post production. These "filter" layers are clear as day and obviously, the use of modern lenses plays havoc as well. Plus, the RED steers towards magenta and green, both of which aren't pleasing to the eye. Yes, they did a great job cleaning it up, but notice how the blacks aren't black, they're kinda blue. The night stuff has no soul to it, it's just ultra flat and digital looking. There is also no depth to the images.

Yes, the first episode has no effects anyway, but their decision to make critical pieces of the story CG based, was kinda silly. They could have done ALL of the effects practical without much effort.
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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 02:50 PM

Since 4K is a horizontal measurement of pixels in the file, and 2:1 is an aspect ratio, then it doesn't make sense to say that something that is 2:1 can't be 4K.  You could make a 16K file that was 2:1 in shape -- i.e. 16000 x 8000 pixels.


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#20 Manu Delpech

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 03:07 PM

I don't see how the same thing shot on Alexa would have had a "soul". I get that the Dragon looks more digital than say an Alexa, but it's a look that's different. I don't think it would have looked better on the Alexa which also looks super digital imo most of the time. The upside down is stunning to look at imo, especially (without spoiling) the all black in between. And those blacks ARE inky black on my projector (JVC though, but still). 

 

Didn't say the source had to be digital anyway, but clearly, there's a reason why all the Netflix original content is shot digitally, you'd think someone would have shot on film by now. Anyway, it seems once again you know better than everyone with your 'they could have done ALL of the effects practical without much effort". 


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Red Dragon, Leica, Winona Ryder, Duffer Brothers, Spielberg, Carpenter, Stephen King, David Harbour, Netflix, Sci-fi

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