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Different Times

Kramer Morgenthau, ASC takes Panavision behind the scenes of the period features Respect and The Many Saints of Newark.

On the surface, a biopic about “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin and a heavy-hitting mob drama about a young Tony Soprano’s coming of age might not seem to have much in common. In fact, though, there’s more connecting them than one might think. Both are set amid a backdrop of political and cultural change, both stories span the 1960s and ’70s, and both were photographed by Kramer Morgenthau, ASC with Panavision T Series optics.

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Panavision Sydney Services 'Shang-Chi'

Large-format Sphero 65 optics contribute to the look of the Marvel blockbuster.

Cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC turned to Panavision Sydney for the camera and lens package on the Marvel Studios feature Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Over the course of production, Panavision Sydney supplied a total of 7,934 items — including cameras, lenses, and a vast array of accessories — to the project’s main, second, VFX and drone units. 

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Bearing Witness

Cinematographer James Laxton, ASC discusses working with Panavision optics to craft the visual language of the series The Underground Railroad.

Published in 2016, Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad examines America’s history of slavery through a fictional lens that imbues the story’s terrible truths with a touch of mythology. After its main character, Cora, escapes from a plantation in Georgia, she embarks on an arduous journey northward, toward the promise of freedom. Cora travels on the Underground Railroad, which — unlike its real-world namesake — is depicted as an actual functioning railroad that wends from station to station through subterranean tunnels.

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Celebrating Community

Cinematographer Alice Brooks discusses using DXL2 and G Series anamorphics to craft a big look for director Jon M. Chu’s musical In the Heights.

In 2002, when cinematographer Alice Brooks and director Jon M. Chu were still film students at the University of Southern California, they partnered for the short When the Kids Are Away, a musical about how a group of neighborhood moms spend their day after sending their children to school. During that collaboration, Chu interviewed Brooks on camera about the project, asking her why she wanted to shoot the short. As Brooks tells it, “I said, ‘I've always loved musicals. My mom was an actor, dancer and singer, my dad was a theater director and a playwright, and I grew up going to theater. When you handed me your script for a musical, I knew I had to do this.' We bonded over our love of musicals.”

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Calculated Moves

Cinematographer Jack Donnelly discusses windowing DXL2 for 6K capture and pairing the camera with Super 35-format Primo lenses for Godfather of Harlem Season 2.

When Godfather of Harlem Season 2 begins, it’s February 1964, and the series’ eponymous gangster, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson (Forest Whitaker), has been in hiding for three months while notorious mafioso Vincent “Chin” Gigante (Vincent D’Onofrio) and his men scour New York City for him. Titled “The French Connection,” the season’s first episode opens with a disheveled-looking Bumpy driving headlong through nighttime streets with a carful of Chin’s thugs in hot pursuit. It’s a far cry from the powerful image Bumpy projected upon his return to Harlem after a stint in Alcatraz, but as he showed throughout Season 1, he’s endlessly resourceful, and one never knows what tricks he might have up his sleeve — or hidden in the trunk of his car.

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Hidden Truths

Cinematographer Trevor Forrest discusses combining the Millennium DXL camera with Primo 70 optics for the series Tell Me Your Secrets.

The 10-episode series Tell Me Your Secrets interweaves the stories of three characters whose troubled pasts have set their moral compasses adrift and their destinies on a collision course. Following a stint in prison that stemmed from her relationship with a serial killer, Karen (Lily Rabe) has been placed in witness protection and given the name Emma. Meanwhile, in a no-holds-barred push to find her long-missing and likely deceased daughter, Mary (Amy Brenneman) sets John (Hamish Linklater) on a mission to unearth Karen’s whereabouts — an assignment that forces him to navigate between his equal desires to atone for his sordid past and give in to his baser criminal instincts.

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Back in Time

Adam Etherington, BSC partners with Panavision and Panalux to visualize a centuries-spanning storyline for A Discovery of Witches Season 2.

Season 2 of A Discovery of Witches found cinematographer Adam Etherington, BSC partnering with director Farren Blackburn to continue the adventures of historian and witch Diana Bishop (Teresa Palmer) and her unlikely ally, the vampire Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode). Both Etherington and Blackburn were new additions to the series, and together they set out to build upon the visual language that had been established in Season 1 while embracing the opportunities afforded by a new twist in the narrative, which sends Diana and Matthew back in time to the Elizabethan era.

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Royal Trimmings

Cinematographer Joe “Jody” Williams and director Craig Brewer partner with Panavision and Light Iron to take audiences back to Zamunda in the sequel Coming 2 America.

Arriving in movie theaters in the summer of 1988, Coming to America starred Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem Joffer from the fictional African nation of Zamunda. Upon learning that his parents, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) and Queen Aoleon (Madge Sinclair), had arranged for him to be married, Akeem and his aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embarked on a journey to find the prince a bride with whom he could connect both emotionally and intellectually. Naturally, Akeem’s quest for the future queen of his nation took him to Queens, New York, and it was there that he met and fell in love with Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley).

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