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Panavision’s Anamorphic Look Invades Television

Anamorphic lenses, long loved for their cinematic look, have become a predominant choice for television production. AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead is one of the shows utilizing the look. In prepping for the pilot, cinematographer Michael McDonough, ASC, BSC, pushed for the format. “I wanted specifically to bring the Panavision anamorphic look, with the front anamorphic elements, to the show,” says McDonough. “I knew the texture would give us those classic flares.”

Fear the Walking Dead is gritty and urban, with a rich color palette. McDonough explains, “We were dealing with the high contrast of Los Angeles and light sources in frame that flared. The way the image separates the background when it goes out of focus with Panavision anamorphics is really beautiful. We went with some zooms and the G Series on the pilot, and we absolutely loved it.”

Michael McDonough (left) and Juan Pablo Somohano on the set of Fear the Walking Dead. Photo by Richard Foreman Jr./AMC.

For season two, Patrick Cady, ASC, and Robert Humphreys, ACS, came aboard to split time with McDonough. McDonough also switched the show to ARRI Alexa Mini cameras.

McDonough then secured B Series anamorphic lenses for the 15-episode second season. “I’ve used many other anamorphics, but Panavision is my go-to company. I love the color that is applied to the flares, and the quality you get with the front element. The B Series, with glass from the 1960s, looks really fantastic—as you’d expect from the actual glass that shot some of the classic movies of the ’70s!”