Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Shooting modern heroism


Cinematographer Kira Kelly talks to Robert Shepherd about creating the look of Marvel's latest TV series, Echo

By Contributor

Published: February 1, 2024

Cinematographer Kira Kelly talks to Robert Shepherd about creating the look of Marvel's latest TV series, Echo

target=_blank title=Share on LinkedIn class=share-linkedin>

Marvel, once criticised for a lack of on-screen diversity, has undergone a noteworthy transformation in recent films and series. Standout projects such as Black Panther, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier mark a deliberate shift towards inclusivity, deviating from past homogeneous norms.

However, this evolution transcends conventional diversity markers, such as skin colour and ethnicity. In its latest series, Echo, a deaf protagonist of Choctaw descent becomes a crucial contributor to a more varied and inclusive narrative. Serving as Marvel Studios' inaugural TV-MA (Television Mature Audience) release, the five-part series balances dark, violent action, diverging from traditional Marvel Comic Universe (MCU) conventions with the inclusion of scenes in American Sign Language and Choctaw.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Echo Maya Lopez (better known as Echo), is played by Alaqua Cox, a Native American (Menominee) who was born deaf, returning to the character introduced in Daredevil #9 (December 1999) by writer David Mack and artist Joe Quesada. She made her Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) d but in the Hawkeye Disney+ series.

Months after the events in Hawkeye, Echo finds herself chased by Wilson Fisk's organisation. This forces her to return to her hometown in Oklahoma, where she confronts her past, reconnects with her Native American heritage, and embraces her family and community. Viewers delve into Echo's journey, offering a profound exploration of her character and a distinctive perspective within the broader MCU.

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE Marvel enthusiasts recognise the distinctive visual style inherent in its productions. Notable examples include the dynamic, larger-than-life cinematography in Thor: Ragnarok, the noir-inspired visuals of Jessica Jones, and the cosmic, epic shots in Guardians of the Galaxy. This consistent approach shapes the visual identity across the MCU. However, Kira Kelly ASC, who was given cinematographic duties owing to her work on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, says the approach on Echo was quite different.

Kira Kelly on set We never really had a conversation like that - director Sydney Freeland and I were given so much freedom as far as the look was concerned and we really played with it to create something that worked best for our show, she explains. There was never anyone saying it has to look like this' or you have to use this camera or you have to use these lenses' like I was expecting. It didn't happen and it was lovely.

With that in mind, Kelly enlisted the help of lens guru' Dan Sasaki, the vice president of optical engineering at Panavision. We used the Alexa Mini LF with Panavision T series anamorphics, and he helped create the look of the lenses, she explains. I prefer my lenses to have a bit of character, something distinctive, so they're not overly clean. However, I had to be mindful that it's Marvel, and there will be a lot of VFX involved, so we couldn't use fully distorted lenses for every shot. Dan collaborated with me to customise our T series lenses, aiming for a similar look to one of my favourite lenses, the Panavision Macro anamorphic Primes. This lens has a lot of character and isn't overly sharp. He worked with me to achieve that look, creating beautiful flares and a pleasing fall-off around the sides.

From the project's inception, the VFX team collaborated closely with Kelly and Freeland, ensuring that every meeting delved into meticulous details.

In the Dawn of Time sequence, the very first scene of the series, we're in the core of the Earth and you see this group of people around the different pools of water, she continues. We had a set that the art department built - the production designer Chris Trujillo is amazing. He built the set about 20 feet off the stage floor so that we would have room for all these different pools of water and for the cast to travel through one of those pools and disappear under the set. Although LED lighting was mostly used in the series, when it came to depicting sunlight through windows, Kelly used 20K Fresnels because I think it's beautiful quality .

OFF-SCREEN CHALLENGES As the on-screen renegade navigates her battles, the team behind the camera encountered its own set of technical and logistical challenges, particularly during the train sequence in episode two, called Lowak.

We shot a good portion of it on location on a train spur line so we were safe from train traffic, Kelly explains. Then we were able to build a few key train elements on stage like the coupler, the flat car and some of the sides of the carriages. That was a scene that we storyboarded with stunt vis until we had it frame by frame. It was a fun puzzle to put together and is one of my favourite sequences we did on the series.

Despite having significant autonomy behind the camera and a strong track record, Kelly admits to experiencing a huge eye-opener' on the series. The primary learning curve involved utilising the second unit extensively. This meant ensuring continuity, such as starting with a particular setup and lighting for scenes with Maya, and then coordinating and sharing all my notes with the second unit so that they could maintain the same visual world for other angles, Kelly says. The challenge was orchestrating these elements to create one cohesive look in the end.

Echo is available on Disney+ and Hulu.
See more stories from tvb

More from TVB Europe


Setting a new standard for storage

EditShare's new EFS NVMe storage solution allows creative professionals to deliver their 4K and 8K projects with unprecedented levels of performance and thr...


It took 20 years to get here': Filmlight debuts media access tool

Nara can natively decode and playback a wide selection of media without the need to transcode to proxy files By Jenny Priestley Published: April 11, 2024 ...


UK MPs call for freelancers' commissioner for creative industry

The Committee has recommended the establishment of a cross-departmental Freelancers Commissioner By Matthew Corrigan Published: April 11, 2024 The Committ...


Preserving TV's technological heritage

Jenny Priestley meets a group of enthusiasts who are working to preserve TV technology from across the decades, including cameras, OB trucks and telecine machin...


Rise Academy announces new leadership, London Summer School to return

Andy Beale, Lisa Collins and Jackie Howes will lead the charity By Jenny Priestley Published: April 11, 2024 Andy Beale, Lisa Collins and Jackie Howes wil...


Editor's choice: Ten things to look out for at 2024 NAB Show

From artificial intelligence and an autonomously AI-powered humanoid robot, to an immersive golf experience and our first proper look at Sphere, this is whats o...


VFX house UNIT moves into new London home

UNIT will now have numerous VFX suites housing Flame, Flame Assist, Nuke and Nuke Studio, while the lower ground floor will house MCR, QC and Open Studio workin...


Workflow solutions provider ERA expands into London

The office is equipped to embrace a hybrid way of working so teams can collaborate no matter where they are based, added the company By Jenny Priestley Publi...


Limecraft and OOONA form AI subtitling partnership

The collaboration aims to provide content producers with streamlined subtitling processes through the use of AI and automation, enabling them to extend the reac...


Harmonic concludes current market conditions' do not support video business sale

The company has also announced the appointment of Nimrod Ben-Natan as CEO, effec...


Santiago Solanas announced as new Dalet CEO

Following a 30 year career at technology firms including Sage, Oracle, Cisco, IBM and Microsoft, Santiago Solanas replaces departing CEO, Carl Farrell, who will...


Grass Valley highlights innovation at NAB Show

The technology provider for the live media and entertainment industry is marking its 65th anniversary with a cluster of breakthrough camera and switcher enhance...


TVBEurope April 2024 issue out now

With a busy calendar of sport plus elections in both the UK and US ahead, the April issue focuses on the latest advances in live production. We meet the sound d...


Opinion: Why trade shows can and must evolve

#GalsNGear founder Amy DeLouise explains how media technology trade shows can take intentional steps to fully reflect the full diversity of people who are part ...


New London office for Advanced Systems Group

Opening in May and located in Aviation House, in Londons Holborn district, the new ASG UK headquarters will have the flexibility to adapt to future expansion B...


Administrators appointed to Winnersh Film Studios Limited

A release says the other legal entities within the Stage 50 group are not currently in administration and continue to trade as normal By Kevin Emmott Publish...


Ripley: The Sounds of Silence

Theres a lot going on in the darkness. Kevin Emmott meets sound mixer Maurizio Argentieri to find out why it was so important to amplify the silence in the Netf...


VVC delivers less pain for the grain

The Media Coding Industry Forum is exploring ways to develop end-to-end film-grain management for modern digital environments By Kevin Emmott Published: Apri...


IBC announces this year's Accelerator Programme

More than 180 organisations have participated in the Accelerator Programme since 2019, and it has delivered POCs for 35 projects By Kevin Emmott Published: A...


New CEO announced at Viaccess-Orca

Kohler has over 20 years of international experience in senior management roles at Orange By Kevin Emmott Published: April 4, 2024 Kohler has over 20 year...


Avid appoints Wellford Dillard as CEO

With more than 20 years of experience in the software industry, Dillard was previously CEO of marketing SaaS provider Marigold By Kevin Emmott Published: Apr...


Changes at the top of the DPP

The DPP has transferred the role of CEO from Mark Harrison to Rowan de Pomerai, with Harrison taking the role of founder and chief content officer By Kevin Emm...


Premier Sports to relaunch in the UK on April 9

Premier Sports will include coverage of the Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup, International football fixtures, LALIGA, and more By Kevin Emmott Published: A...


The 4K cameras giving audiences an astronaut's view of Earth

TVBEurope meets Charles Black, founder and CEO of Sen, which has sent a payload of 4K cameras to the ISS to livestream images of Earth to audiences around the w...


I knew there were cameras, lighting, some buttons and microphones involved': How Crew Room Academy is inspiring the next generation

TVBEurope hears from some of the students who took part in Crew Room Academys Sc...


Adobe reveals Gen AI solutions for content supply chain

Elsewhere, Adobe revealed a new feature in Adobe Firefly, which uses the companys generative AI to easily apply the structure of an existing image to newly gene...


Best of Show Awards for 2024 NAB Show entries close soon

The awards, from industry-leading brands of Future plc, provide a great opportunity for companies to stand out at one the most attended shows in the industry B...


Meet the director of IT and operations

By TVBEurope Staff Published: March 27, 2024 Updated: March 28, 2024 CueScript's director of IT and operations, Meghan Tyler, tells TVBEurope about h...


Crown Works Studios moves forward following council approval

The studios are expected to be one of the largest in Europe, with 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and high-end TV (HETV) productions By...


Blackbird adds indexing and AI auto sequencing to video editing platform

Twelve Labs AI will enable editors to locate specific storytelling moments within their video content using natural language, said the companies By Jenny Pries...


Meet the director of strategic marketing

By TVBEurope Staff Published: March 25, 2024 Updated: March 26, 2024 Bruno Fran on, director of strategic marketing at Backlight, talks to TVBEurope abou...


Grass Valley secures $220 million in strategic refinancing

The company said it intends to accelerate innovation across its entire portfolio, most notably in the AMPP ecosystem following the refinancing By Jenny Priestl...


Creating a fully managed live sports streaming service

As the way that viewers watch sport continues to evolve, broadcasters and streaming services must keep a finger on the pulse of the market and adapt their offer...


Planetcast brings OTT in house with Switch Media acquisition

The acquisition transfers full control of Switch Medias assets to Planetcast, enabling integration of their online video solutions with Planetcasts NexC unified...


Slow Horses, The Long Shadow lead BAFTA Craft Awards

Other Craft Award nominees include The Crown, Silo, The Coronation Concert and Eurovision By Jenny Priestley Published: March 20, 2024 Other Craft Award n...


Shepperton Studios expansion opens for business

The Surrey facility adds a further 17 sound stages (taking its total to 31) as well as two new backlots By Matthew Corrigan Published: March 20, 2024 Updat...


How Freelens TV puts science centre-stage for its latest game show

Take Off is a game show where science and innovation meet competition. With 12 contestants pitted against one another in a series of challenges, culminating in ...


The new name reflects the ambition we've had since the very beginning': Newsbridge rebrands as Moments Lab

The company says its goal is to help media, sports, and entertainment companies ...


Logging and reviewing: Moving towards a sustainable workflow

Jane Sung, COO at Cinedeck, explains how broadcasters and content production companies can achieve the goal of moving towards creating a more sustainable, effic...


Altice Media sold to French shipping tycoon for 1.55 billion

The deal includes BFM TV, one of the country's largest 24-hour news channels, as well as documentary channel RMC D couverte, and RMC Story By Jenny Priestl...


Meet the CEO and founder

By TVBEurope Staff Published: March 18, 2024 Updated: March 19, 2024 Nick Franco tells TVBEurope how he went from being a master plasterer and refurbishi...


Meet the director of channel development

By TVBEurope Staff Published: March 15, 2024 Updated: March 18, 2024 Jenny Isaksson, director channel development at Vizrt, tells TVBEurope why she enjoy...


Spilling the tea: The challenges of live music for television

Ciaran Doran reports on a recent RTS Technology Centre event that heard about the challenge of getting sound on live TV events just right, including dealing wit...


Case study: How post production house Blazing Griffin keeps complex file movement simple

Blazing Griffins technical operations manager Paul Martin explains how the compa...


Meet the TPN ambassador

By TVBEurope Staff Published: March 14, 2024 Updated: March 15, 2024 Stephen Stewart, former network director at Channel 4, tells TVBEurope about his cur...


Brightcove adds web-based video editing capabilities to streaming technology platform

The update enables users to repurpose existing video content by editing recordin...


Water, water everywhere

Vine FX blends practical and CGI elements for ITVs After the Flood, crafting immersive world-building crucial to the post-disaster thrillers authenticity, write...


Opinion: Making space for inclusion and diversity

Radical Moves River Williams looks at how the broadcast industry can become more inclusive and representative in order to benefit the professionals working with...


What will the broadcast tech ecosystem look like in the next 5-10 years?

TVBEurope editor Jenny Priestley meets Grass Valley president and COO Jon Wilson to discuss everything from the power of the cloud, AI adoption and this years s...


Anna Valley enters administration

Anna Valley has been working in the AV sector for over three decades, with roots in the supply of cameras and display technology to the broadcast sector By Jen...