The futuristic cyberpunk universe of the Netflix series Altered Carbon is as visually stunning as it is colourful, due to the vision and skill of the show's Directors of Photography (DOPs) Neville Kidd and Martin Ahlgren. Here, Neville explains how they created the moody yet vibrant feel of the show, shooting in 5K with Canon Cine prime lenses.
Imagine what the world will look like 350 years from now. If it's anything like the premise of the sci-fi show Altered Carbon, the wealthy will inhabit the clouds, their palaces illuminated by beautiful natural light. They'll live for hundreds of years, yet look young and beautiful, regularly transferring their digitised consciousness to the best new bodies to come onto the market. Meanwhile, the other 99% will be stuck down below, in dark, dingy spaces lit by holograms, neon signs and moving traffic in the absence of sunlight.
This was the universe that Neville and Martin were tasked with visualising, based on screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis' interpretation of Richard K Morgan's 2002 novel, Altered Carbon. The two worlds, in the clouds and down below, required completely different approaches both in terms of the filming and lighting. In the clouds, they used remote-controlled telescopic camera cranes and soft natural lighting to portray the world of the wealthy. Meanwhile, on the ground, where the so-called Grinders live in gritty streets, they used handheld cameras and hard light to accentuate shadows and create a feeling of tension.