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Here’s What This Year’s Top Cinematographers Shot On

Here's What This Year's Top Cinematographers Shot On

We’re still right in the thick of awards season, and will be until the Oscars finally roll out on March 2. Tomorrow alone will see the WGA Awards, the Annie Awards, and the ASC Awards. The latter has come to represent something bigger than another night to hand out trophies, however – the ASC Awards are now a yearly status quo update on the film vs. digital debate. 

This year’s nominees are:

Barry Ackroyd, “Captain Phillips” (Aaton Penelope, Arri Alexa, Arri Arricam LT, Arri Arriflex 235, Arri Arriflex 435, Beaumont VistaVision, Canon EOS C300, GoPro HD Hero)
Sean Bobbitt, “12 Years a Slave” (Arri Arricam LT, Arri Arricam ST)
Roger Deakins, “Prisoners” (Arri Alexa Plus, Arri Alexa Studio)
Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Arri Arricam LT, Arri Aricam ST)
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Gravity” (Arri Alexa M, Arri Alexa S, Arri Arriflex 765)
Philippe Le Sourd, “The Grandmaster” (Arri Arricam LT, Arri Arricam ST, Arri Arriflex 435 Xtreme, Phantom Flex)
Phedon Papamichael, “Nebraska” (Arri Alexa M, Arri Alexa Plus 4:3)

Read More: Here’s What Sundance Cinematographers Think of Shooting Film vs. Digital

Much like the films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, digitally shot films are becoming more common among the ASC Awards (as are the Oscars – the latter five ASC nominees won Oscar nominations). Of the seven, four (“12 Years a Slave,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “The Grandmaster”, “Captain Phillips”) were shot either entirely or primarily on 35mm film.

The other three were either entirely or primarily digital, with “Captain Phillips” and “The Grandmaster” mixing in some digital material for certain shots. Also, If you add in the remaining Oscar Best Picture nominees (“American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Philomena,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her”), only the first two were also shot primarily on film, according to Setlife Magazine.

Compare that to last year, where three of the five ASC and Oscar nominees where shot on film, along with six of the nine Best Picture nominees. Film is still around, but the times, they are a-changin’.

Also, as with this year’s Sundance: whether it’s film or digital, Arri dominates. All seven ASC nominated films were shot on Arri technology, as were the remaining Oscar Best Picture nominees. Last year, most ASC Award, Best Cinematography, and Best Picture nominees were shot primarily on Arri cameras, with a few notable Panavision holdouts (“Lincoln,” “Anna Karenina,” and the Best Cinematography nominee “Django Unchained”). This year, nothing could compare with Arri, especially…

 RED, which has zero nominees at the ASC Awards or the Oscars. Ouch.

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Thanks for that "Captain Obvious".


Arri also makes digital cameras. Google "Arri digital."


Again, I'm astounded that journalists no longer verify or check their facts. From the information provided in this very article, 4 of the 7 cinematographers originated on film. I think that makes film the majority origination format.

Ackroyd, Bobbit, Delbonnel and LeSourd. They all originated primarily on film. Those camera models listed by their names are FILM cameras. Are they not aware of the fact that the ARRI corporation manufactured film cameras for 90+ years ? Ackroyd mixed in a few divi-shots for practical purposes, but that's it.

I have no faith in journalists anymore. They never check their facts, and make way too many assumptions. "Parrots" would be a more appropriate job description.


Yes, Nick is right. Ackroyd shot mainly on film. Here is my extensive interview with him from October's ICG Magazine. (Not just a shameless plug, want to make sure the record is straight).


Correction: Captain Phillips was primarily film with some digital mixed in, not the other way around.

Source: American Cinematographer, November 2013

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