Understanding the Cinematography of Claudio Miranda

Claudio Miranda has had a meteoric rise, or so it seems! Within the span of a few movies he has managed to create imagery you won’t forget once you’ve seen it. I go through some of his cinematography lighting and camera techniques to help you understand his unique style.

Just to be clear: Claudio Miranda changes his style to suit the movies he shoots. The goal of this video and article is to drum up enthusiasm and a yearning to learn more.

Warning: I do not claim this knowledge is 100% accurate. Just think of it as an endorsement of his work. If you want accuracy, look someplace else.

Here’s the video illuminating the cinematography style of Claudio Miranda:

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How he lights faces

Claudio Miranda usually lights in the three-quarters or top-front lighting style, and the light is very soft, almost shadowless.

He rarely backlights, though he does back and kicker lights if there’s sufficient motivation for them.

He lights to a high contrast ratio, averaging about two to three stops.

About color

Claudio Miranda has a neutral color palette, neither too saturated nor too desaturated. His lighting style is naturalistic, though he doesn’t go for realism.

He uses color grading extensively and lights knowing it will be graded. This allows him greater freedom to manipulate contrast and color.

Camera and format

He is one of the few modern cinematographers who has shot almost every movie on one digital camera or another:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Thomson Viper
  • Tron – Sony F35
  • Life of Pi – Arri Alexa
  • Oblivion – Sony F65
  • Tomorrowland – Sony F65

He prefers Zeiss lenses, the Arri Master Primes in particular. Recently he has also started using the Fujinon cine zoom range with the Sony F65 and claims it is sharper than the Master Primes!

I hope you’ve found this article useful. If I’ve stoked your interest in Claudio Miranda’s work, please watch the movies he shot, check out his interviews in the American Cinematographer magazine, and also check out his work on his personal website.

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