Understanding the Cinematography of Larry Fong

Larry Fong has created many of the iconic imagery of the last decade. His skill at making lighting for visual effects look effortless is peerless. In this video and article I go through some of his cinematography lighting and camera techniques to help you understand his unique style.

Just to be clear: Larry Fong 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 Larry Fong:

How he lights faces

Larry Fong has a naturalistic style, and prefers lighting that reflects real life. He is not afraid to cast multiple shadows or underexpose skin tones, as long as it looks natural.

He mostly lights from the top or split lighting pattern. The contrast ratio isn’t that high, but the directors he works for like to crush their blacks and use many power windows to draw attention to parts of the frame.

Night Shots

Larry Fong truly shines with his night shots. You can feel the tonality and texture of his nightscapes, even when his actors are silhouettes. Here’s a great example:


Lenses and format

He is a fan of the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, but shots both anamorphic and spherical. He mostly sticks to Panavision lenses, both primes and zooms, and his favorite lens is the 27mm Primo.

Even though he shoots a lot of VFX movies, he still sticks to Kodak stock, and luckily have directors who fight for the same. He tries his best to change his style with every subsequent project, which is a phenomenal feat with all the blue/greenscreen work he does.

I hope you’ve found this article useful. If I’ve stoked your interest inLarry Fong’s work, please watch the movies he shot and check out his interviews online. Also, don’t forget to follow him on Twitter.


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