The Apple TV+ ‘Physical’ S3 was shot by Cinematographer Jimmy Lindsey ASC on the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF paired with a specially made B-Series Vintage 2x Anamorphic glass by Panavision. This unique lens was designed to grant a “creamy vintage feel with soft edge focus and classic 1970s flare characteristics”. Read more about it down below.
Physical: a 1980s ‘look & feel’
Here is a nice item for Friday night. Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, Physical is a half-hour dark comedy following Sheila Rubin (Byrne), a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband’s bid for state assembly. But behind closed doors, Sheila has her own darkly funny take on life she rarely lets the world see. She’s also battling a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image… that is until she finds release through the unlikeliest source: the world of aerobics. Season two found Byrne having successfully launched her first fitness video only to encounter some new and bigger obstacles on her path. She is torn between loyalty to her husband (Rory Scovel) and the values he represents and a dangerous attraction to someone else. And since she’s no longer the only game in town, she finds herself having to outrun some fierce new competitors on the road to building a full-fledged fitness empire. In August 2022, the series was renewed for a third season. In May 2023, it was announced that the third season would be the final season and premiered on August 2, 2023. Watch the trailer below:
Shot by cinematographer Jimmy Lindsey ASC
Season 3 was shot by DP Jimmy Lindsey ASC (Star Trek: Picard) on the ARRI ALEXA Mini LF: “The trick in shooting a series set in this period is to invoke the style of the era without being too heavy-handed and distracting from the story. With this in mind, director Stephanie Laing and I referenced a number of films set in and around our time period as well as many of the diet and fitness advertising campaigns of the day” Lindsey says, and adds: “Physical has a distinct visual language that was established in the pilot. Along with nontraditional framing, this involves quick push-ins on wider lenses at key moments and extended fluid shots that move with the actors, allowing for much freedom with minimal coverage. Almost all of this is achieved through Steadicam and the amazing operation of Mark Moore, SOC. This platform creates a beautifully imperfect feeling that blends perfectly with the characters and their unique struggles”.
Custom Panavision B-Series Vintage 2x Anamorphic
DP Lindsey elaborates on the unique lens Panavision has designed for ‘Physical’ S3: “Physical is set in a Southern California beach town during the 1980s fitness boom and the show’s visual language needed a period realism as seen through the eyes of Sheila Rubin, brilliantly played by Rose Byrne. To achieve the desired look and create the world she lives in, we combined a number of approaches, including custom vintage 2x anamorphic, a low-contrast technique in final color, and a stylized, subjective camera. When I want to shoot with vintage anamorphic glass, Panavision is my first call. I know I can count on David Dodson to provide stellar support, and I’m always amazed by Dan Sasaki’s talents [the guy who helped to design the ‘Oppenheimer Lens’]. With his help, we achieved a custom, B series creamy vintage feel with soft edge focus and classic 1970s flare characteristics, but with the faster T-stops and improved minimum focus of the T Series”.
Focus on the ‘Vintage’
This is not the first time Panavision has modified a lens to be aimed at the vintage look & feel. Indeed, the imagery characteristics of ‘Physical’ remind us of the imagery of Elvis, which was also shot on a custom-made T-Series anamorphic which we titled the ‘Elvis Lens’, paired also on large format cameras (ARRI ALEXA 65, LF, and Panaflex System 65). As for the B-series, we remember those lenses utilized on the ‘Superman & Lois’ paired with the Panavision DXL2, for the ‘Syder Look‘.