Ksenia Sereda shares her experience shooting The Last of Us series with crews from Cooke and ARRI

The cinematographer Ksenia Sereda shoot her three episodes of the The Last of Us HBO series. Ksenia decided on pairing Cooke S4/i spherical lenses with the ARRI ALEXA Mini camera.

“I played the game for the first time almost four years ago, and I was absolutely fascinated by its cinematic look – I wasn’t ready for how beautiful it was, the lighting was gorgeous. And the most surprising thing was how deeply I connected to the characters in the game,” said Ksenia Sereda. “So of course, it was a lot of pressure to translate the video game language into the TV series because it’s already beautiful and everyone, including nearly all of the crew, loved the game.”

While three other cinematographers – Eben Bolter, Nadim Carlsen and Christine A. Maier –joined the production to work on several episodes, at the start of the process Ksenia Sereda worked closely with Neil Druckmann, the writer of the original game and co-creator and writer/director for television, and Craig Mazin, co-creator and writer/director for television, to capture the visual language of the series.

“I am obsessed with spherical lenses,” she said. “They are gorgeous, and are one of my favourite lens series. You have this focus plane which is very distinctive, but after that the falloff between the focus plan and the defocused area is very smooth. I love to work without filters too, and on the close ups I just could not take my eye off the portraits we could create with the light. The system of light, lens and camera gave a very specific, textured and warm image.”

“Shooting low light with the S4/I and ARRI ALEXA Mini produces beautiful work with very high intensity areas and low exposed areas. In general, I really love to work on the bottom of the exposure curve, I really love to pack the image from 60% and down, having the whites always in very low range to give us the opportunity of more shades and textures in the blacks,” shares the DoP.

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