Armando Salas, the cinematographer for Ozark, has explained why season three felt brighter visually than the first two seasons.
Ozark will finish up its run with a fourth and final season on Netflix, set to begin shooting this November. Season three was another acclaimed entry in the crime series but there was a noticeable difference between what had come before.
Season three was visually brighter than the very dark and saturated visuals of the first two seasons. Season three even felt more colourful than past installments. Why the change? Well, cinematographer Armando Salas spoke to Collider about it:
“Well Season 2 was incredibly bleak from a story perspective and what the characters were going through. And then Season 3, the playing field gets bigger. The ambitions get larger, the operation becomes more sophisticated. So the look is very much in line with the story. You follow the story, you follow the script. And so the look involved with the arc of the characters and of the storytelling and it’s a bigger palette, more sophisticated world. And it also branches out, like you said, into the casino, into the Navarro compound. So you still have the signature hues that you’re used to, that the audience has been accustomed to, but it’s also kind of developing beyond that and expanding. And I think that the two words that Jason and I discussed early on were expanding and sophistication. And so it’s like, how do you implement that concept?”
When asked more specifically on the question of light and brightness in season three, Salas explained that there were technical considerations behind the decision as well:
“It gets really technical because basically Netflix is a HDR delivery with Dolby Vision so we implemented Dolby Vision, or an HDR onset workflow, which basically we reinvented the workflow of the show to match the distribution format, which obviously affects the image. It makes it so that we’re actually much more in tune with the final distribution. And so some of it is that, and some of it is just the discussion of the look becoming more sophisticated meant we had a softer shadows. We had a little more detail and a little more texture in the shadows than in Season 2, which even though the highlights and the brightness of the overall image is actually the same, just having that softer curve at the bottom is a lot easier on the eyes.”
Whatever the rationale behind season three’s changes, it was a visually beautiful season of television helping to present another riveting set of episodes. Hopefully, season four can finish things off with a bang.