You can’t express your vision without the right tools. Let’s take a look at the camera gear of choice for 2016’s cinematography Oscar nominees.
Top image: Emmanuel Lubezki on location with Forrest Goodluck
It’s time once more for the film industry to celebrate and reward the greatest technical and creative achievements of the past year. One Oscar category that’s of special interest to videographers and filmmakers: cinematography.
The job of the cinematographer is to take the vision of the director and help make it a reality on film. They frame and compose how all of the visual information (and the work of the production designer, the costume designer, etc.) is seen by the audience. It’s an incredible responsibility and one that, if mastered, can yield amazing results.
This year’s awards season has no shortage of talented artists who use the lens as their brush and the frame as their canvas. Let’s take a look at 2016’s cinematography nominees and the artistic tools they used to capture the imagery of the nominated films.
Ed Lachman — Carol
Cate Blanchett and Ed Lachman on the set of Carol, via AFC
For this film, Lachman wanted the texture of natural film grain in his image. However, since 35mm print is so hi-res it loses that texture during the DI (digital intermediate) process, the cinematographer and his crew chose to use the ARRIFLEX 416 (a Super 16 film camera) and an assortment of lenses from Zeiss, Cooke, and Angénieux.
Video via The Movie Times
Robert Richardson — The Hateful Eight
Robert Richardson on location in Colorado for The Hateful Eight, via The Hateful Eight Website
For The Hateful Eight, he and director Quentin Tarantino decided to go back to the classic days of western films and use a 65mm camera — more specifically, the Panavision Panaflex. Additionally, the duo sought out and used the same type of Panavision anamorphic lenses used in the 50s and 60s. This gear combination created an incredible image on screen, especially when seen in full 70mm.
Cameras: Panavision Panaflex 65mm Spinning Mirror Reflex, Panavision PanaFlex System 65 Studio Camera
Lenses: Panavision APO Panatar, Panavision Variable APO Panatar
Other Notable Works: Platoon, JFK, The Aviator, Inglourious Basterds, Hugo, Django Unchained
Video via ScreenSlam
John Seale — Mad Max: Fury Road
John Seale on location for Mad Max: Fury Road, via Creative Planet Network
What’s interesting about his work on Mad Max: Fury Road is that he was brought on board very late in the pre-production process — plus, he was retired. Alongside director George Miller, Seale crafted a high-octane visual experience using a multitude of cameras, all of which were put through a tremendous workout.
Cameras: ARRI ALEXA M, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Canon 5D Mark II
Lenses: Panavision Primo, Panavision Primo Zoom, Angénieux Optimo Lenses
Other Notable Works: Witness, Rain Man, The English Patient, Cold Mountain
Video via Variety
Emmanuel Lubezki — The Revenant
Emmanuel Lubezki on the set of The Revenant, via Emmanuel Lubezki.
Emmanuel Lubezki has been nominated for eight Oscars. He won two in a row for Gravity and Birdman. This year’s nomination, for The Revenant, gives him the chance to win the Oscar an incredible three years in a row.
On The Revenant, he employed the new ALEXA 65mm camera with an arsenal of 21-28mm lenses. Using this wide format with these wider angle lenses allowed Lubezki to showcase the natural setting in which the characters existed, allowing the wilderness itself to become an important supporting character.
Cameras: ARRI ALEXA 65 Camera, ARRI ALEXA XT, ARRI ALEXA XT M, RED EPIC DRAGON
Lenses: Lecia Summilux-C Series, Panavision C Series, Panavision Primo, Zeiss Master Prime
Other Notable Works: Sleepy Hollow, The New World, Children of Men, The Tree of Life, Gravity, Birdman
Video via 20th Century Fox
Roger Deakins — Sicario
Director Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins on the set of Prisoners, via Variety.
Roger Deakins has been nominated for thirteen Oscars, more than any other active cinematographer. Unfortunately, Deakins has never taken home the prize for his work — but that might change this year with Sicario.
Using a strict rotation of ALEXA cameras and Zeiss lenses, Deakins was able to capture some incredible images. As he’s done in the past, Deakins challenged himself to get every shot he could without using zoom lenses. It’s incredibly difficult, but as Sicario proves, its amazing when done well.
Cameras: ARRI ALEXA XT M, ARRI ALEXA XT Plus, ARRI ALEXA XT Studio
Lenses: Zeiss Master Primes
Other Notable Works: The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall
Video via Variety
Who will take home the Academy Award? Who’s missing from this list? Share your hot cinematography opinions in the comments below!