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Stranger Things visuals • VFX

Recreating the look and feel of Stranger Things

Police officers stare mesmerised into a seemingly long tunnel after having lost track of a strangely gifted gangster squad. Image courtesy of Netflix (and the  Duffer Brothers ).

Police officers stare mesmerised into a seemingly long tunnel after having lost track of a strangely gifted gangster squad. Image courtesy of Netflix (and the Duffer Brothers).

 

Along with half the world I bingewatched season 2 of Stranger Things over the Halloween weekend. Above is a still image from the opening scene of episode 1. Notice how the teal shine on the asphalt contrasts beautifully with warm orangy tones on the bridge beams.

A reddit user recognised the place where this scene was shot (Atlanta, Georgia) and posted a daytime picture online:

 
The railway bridge in Atlanta where the opening scene of Stranger Things 2 was shot six months earlier. Image courtesy of  Travis284 .

The railway bridge in Atlanta where the opening scene of Stranger Things 2 was shot six months earlier. Image courtesy of Travis284.

 

After having seen the flat-out dullness of that location as is, I was even more intrigued by the way the scene came together so cinematically. (Also note that the photo above gives away the clever set extension that the VFX team did on the tunnel.)

But from another point of view; a challenge arose: how far could I push this image in post-production to get a familiar Stranger Things look and feel from it? Well, I went ahead and pulled some tricks in Davinci Resolve to do my own take on this scene.

 
 

Firstly, I dropped the exposure the exposure significantly and applied a basic orange and tealy LUT. I then went on to mask and darken the brightest areas of the frame. After darkening the whole scene, I reintroduced some practical light by mimicking the blue-green light emitted by the fluorescent tubes under the bridge. Lastly, I added a simmering red glow to the end of the tunnel signaling imminent danger. Video below: