One of the charms of the first season of Stranger Things was how scrappy it was. A genre show that was quietly released by Netflix in July 2016, Stranger Things had a relatively unknown cast (aside from the esteemed Winona Ryder) and a small budget to match. Because of that, it was forced to get creative with what it had, creating an entire alternate dimension and unseen monster that captured our imaginations and took over the pop culture landscape.
But come season 2, everything was bigger — the expectations, the budget, and most importantly, the effects. Now Netflix, on the heels of its thousands of Stranger Things featurettes it keeps releasing in lieu of a Stranger Things season 3 trailer, has dropped a new featurette that explains the VFX of Stranger Things.
Stranger Things VFX Featurette
While season 1 was a deft mix of practical and visual effects, Matt and Ross Duffer couldn’t quite realize the extent of their vision for Stranger Things. It ended up working for the best for season 1 — by cloaking the Demagorgon in darkness and creating a shadowy Upside Down that was basically a redressed tunnel lit by flashlights, Stranger Things only felt like a more authentic homage to ’80s B-movies.
But as editor Kevin D. Ross says in the featurette, “We had a hundred times more effects in season 2 than we had in season 1.” So that basically gave the Duffer brothers the cue to go nuts.
“We went into season 2 knowing that visual effects were going to be utilized not just to augment practical effects but really to create things that aren’t humanoid,” executive producer Shawn Levy said.
Much of the work fell on VFX supervisors Paul and Christina Graff, who created everything from the The volcanic lightning storm that introduces the giant, spider-like Shadow Monster to the adorable pollywog that Dustin befriends. It all came down to what Matt Duffer called “A Beautiful Hell” of monsters, wild effects, and moody sets, according to Indiewire.
It’s a nice and informative featurette that I guess will keep us going until Stranger Thing 3 — whenever that comes out. But while you bide your time for the new season that likely returns in summer 2019, check out the rest of the featurettes that have been released over the past few months, including a spotlight on the Duffer brothers, one about how the series perfectly recreates the style of the 1980s and how the cast of the series came together to make this show such a hit.
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