Streaming: <I>Pen15</I> director of photography Andy Rydzewski
Issue: September/October 2020

Streaming: Pen15 director of photography Andy Rydzewski

Hulu's Pen15, starring Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, premiered its second season on September 18th. The series follows two middle school girls (actually in their 30s), who detail their lives in the year 2000, as it really happened.

Andy Rydzewski has served as director of photography for both seasons, and helped to establish the show's visual aesthetic. Pen15 is shot on an Arri Alexa Mini at 3.2K resolution in the ProRes 4444 format.

“Our DIT, Parisa Rezvani, would ingest the footage and do a more specific color pass for dailies than we would normally do,” Rydzewski explains. “The look of each scene and episode was based on a ‘color journey’ document I created with Sam (Zvibleman), our director, in pre-production. This included shifting elements of color and contrast based on where we were in the Season 2 story arc.

“With the pandemic hitting during post, her initial color ended up being invaluable,” Rydzewski continues. “I couldn’t be in a room with our colorist, Darin Wooldridge, which was disappointing. One of my favorite steps in the cinematography process is experimenting with the colorist to see what creative adjustments we might make that I hadn’t thought of on set. Since we were working remotely, there was little room for play. Luckily for me and for the show, Darin has a great eye and, using Parisa’s daily color as a jumping off point, he used the same color journey document and made it his own.” 

Rydzewski says he uses a new OLED TV has his reference monitor. 

“They sent me download links for each episode, and I would take my notes and send them back, using timecode as reference.”

According to Rezvani, transcodes were DNxHD 36 1080p with synced sound. 

“I also gave them reference stills and ALEs and the Resolve projects for the online process,” Rezvani notes. “The camera originals, transcodes, reference stills, metadata, reports and sound were all sent on an SSD drive twice a day to post. Primary and secondary grades were happening on set.”

Two seasons of Pen15, spanning 17 episodes, are available on Hulu.