As the series created by the Duffer Brothers enters its second season on October 27th, we talked to Director of Photography Tim Ives about what it's like to shoot it. Ives, who has previously worked on shows like Girls, Mr. Robot and House of Cards, said one of the most important elements was to keep Stranger Things 2 feeling retro. That's something that can become challenging, particularly as he relies on new technologies, such as 4K cameras with high-dynamic range.
Ross (left) and Matt Duffer (right) during the production of Stranger Things 2.
"You have to protect what you're trying to show," Ives said. "We tested quite heavily to make sure that our images had the soft and round tones that are in '80s films." He claimed that effect was achievable with a combination of Leica lenses and state-of-the-art cinema cameras. For the second season, Ives shot with the Red Weapon 8K S35, an upgrade over the 6K Red Dragon that was used on the first season of the show.
Netflix only streams the shows at up to 4K resolution, of course, but those cameras help provide the highest-quality images possible. Shooting the show with that latest sensors makes it futureproof too, as that might make it possible to see better versions than UHD in the future. Stranger Things also supports 4K in HDR, which delivers better detail in darker scenes. This technology is far from mainstream, though, since compatible TVs are still on the pricey side -- at least if you want a good one.
Ives said that when it comes to softening the image, a process that gives Stranger Things that '80s style, it's important to ensure the shots are going to look perfect for both HD and HDR. Essentially, he wants people to have a similar experience while watching, whether they're using a low- or high-end TV. He added that as HDR becomes more accessible, the way HD did, the entire process of editing for different sets will be streamlined.