Panasonic’s VariCam range was used to help create an aesthetically pleasing look, supporting the comedic narrative, of Ricky Gervais’ latest Netflix Original comedy series, After Life.
The six-part series from Derek Productions is created, written and directed by Gervais, with Charlie Hanson as producer and Gervais and Duncan Hayes as executive producers.
Over the six episodes, the narrative follows the story of Tony (Gervais) as he mourns the loss of his deceased wife, and considers living long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. Focussed largely on the comedic prowess of the actors and the script, Gervais and his producers were keen to find the correct technology for a dark comedy with a light-hearted feel.
Martin Hawkins, lighting director and DP on After Life, said, “Comedy has to be the most important thing in the frame, with everything else coming after that. This series has a ‘look’ that we feel doesn’t distract from the comedy, and a ‘look’ which we wanted to be dishevelled, to reflect Tony’s character.”
Having undertaken discussions with rental company 24-7 Drama, the decision was made to shoot the series with two Panasonic VariCam 35s, and a VariCam LT, alongside a lens package that included Zeiss Ultra primes and ARRI Alura zoom lenses, with the addition of a 12’ Jib Arm and a MöVi rig.
The series made use of the camera’s dynamic range, filming in 4K HDR. This was utilised to enhance elements such as Tony’s dishevelled character and the surrounding scenery, visually supporting the emotional journey within the script.
Colourist Vince Narduzzo, said, “We can already see that 4K HDR is the future for the industry. In fact, there is a wider jump from HDR to 4K HDR than SD to HD. We were keen to create the perfect balance with the feature and, in the end, found we had a lovely look-and-feel to the images, with all of the colours nicely separated. It’s pretty amazing when you see it.”
According to Hawkins, the VariCam range was beneficial in keeping the pace up on-set. “Comedy requires a fast pace for the actors to maintain their energy on set. With the VariCam 35, everything is right there in front of you, and in a simple push of a button you can quickly change menu settings and no one need know anything has happened.”
To edit the series, Narduzzo utilised a new grading suite, which was built to meet Dolby Vision certification. This was equipped with an Eizo CG 3145 reference monitor, and a Nucoda Film Master with ACES grading capability. Across the series, the AVC Ultra 422 codec was utilised.
Narduzzo concluded, “We wanted a natural grain to enhance the narrative, and we were really happy with the end result of the series. This was only made possible by the equipment we utilised, and the teamwork both whilst filming and in post production.”