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From ‘Black Mirror’ to ‘Westworld,’ Here Are the Cameras That Shot The Year’s Best TV Shows

Emmy-nominated cinematographers tell us how they chose the cameras and lenses that created the look.

Emmy nominated DP Reed Morano shooting "Divorce"

Emmy nominated DP Reed Morano shooting “Divorce”

Macall B. Polay.HBO


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IndieWire reached out to the cinematographers who received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour), Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour), and Limited Series or Movie. We asked them which camera and lenses they used and why they were the right tools to achieve their show’s unique look.

Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)

The nominees for outstanding cinematography in this category are Adriano Goldman (“The Crown”), Colin Watkinson (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), James Hawkinson (“The Man in the High Castle”), Tod Campbell (Mr. Robot”), John Toll (“Sense8”), Tim Ives (“Stranger Things”) and Paul Cameron (“Westworld”).

Last Year’s Winner: James Hawkinson for “The Man in the High Castle”

“The Crown”

DP Adriano Goldman on the set of "The Crown"

DP Adriano Goldman on the set of “The Crown”

Alex Bailey/Netflix

Cameras: Sony F55s
Lens: Old Cooke Panchros rehoused by TLS UK

DP Adriano Goldman: “Netflix requires a 4K workflow, so I started by testing cameras that could provide that. After comparing a few, we felt that by combining the F55 and vintage lenses, plus light diffusion filters, we could achieve a rich, soft and kind of romantic period look. The Sony F55 proved to be very reliable, very light, and easy to work with. The Cooke Panchros deliver a very warm and filmic look. And working together with the art and costume department was key to find a palette and control color saturation — that’s also a very important element of the overall style of ‘The Crown.'”

“The Handmaid’s Tale”

Elizabeth Moss and DP Colin Watkinson on the set of "The Handmaid's Tale"

Elizabeth Moss and DP Colin Watkinson on the set of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

George Kraychyk/Hulu

Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Canon K35 primes, Zeiss T2.1 primes. Canon K35 Zoom.

DP Colin Watkinson: “Choosing the camera with Reed Morano, director of episodes 1-3, was an easy choice. For color reproduction and the depth in the shadows we wanted, we both favored the Alexa. The lens choice took a little longer. What we agreed on from the start was that we wanted to shoot on older lenses. We knew we needed to tie two distinct shooting styles together and lenses with character would help us do that. The flare style – along with other lens characteristics – that exists in the world of Gillead also exists in the flashbacks, hopefully giving a subconscious link that the worlds are connected. I already knew the Canons very well and was keen to use them in a much darker environment and was pleased with the results.”

“Sense8”

Sense8 Season 2

“Sense8” DP John Toll

Murray Close/Netflix

Camera: Sony F-55
Lens: Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses, and Fujinon 19-90 zoom lenses

DP John Toll: “The choice of this camera and lens combination was based on several factors. The quality of the image and the Netflix 4K requirement were the most important considerations, followed closely by the flexibility of the entire camera and lens system.

Creatively, we adopted a sense of immediacy and a fluid visual style. The eight main characters, although living in different parts of the world, were in constant interaction and experiencing a full range of emotion. In a contemporary timeframe, our stories ranged from quiet intimacy to large-scale action. Both seasons of ‘Sense8’ were shot entirely on practical locations and we shot almost exclusively on Steadicam or handheld with ‘A’ and ‘B’ cameras. We found the combination of the F-55’s with the Zeiss and Fujinon lenses worked extremely well in this context.

The eight principal characters all lived in different cities in several countries. We were constantly traveling internationally and bringing our camera equipment with us. On Season 2, we shot in 14 different cities in 11 countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, India, and Asia. The compact size and portability of our camera system was extremely effective, both creatively and as an efficient production and scheduling factor. Based on the success of Season 1, we pushed this style even further in Season 2. Creative style and overall scheduling decisions were heavily influenced by the choice of our camera and lenses.”

“Westworld”

"WestWorld" DP Paul Cameron

“Westworld” DP Paul Cameron

John P. Johnson/HBO

Camera: Arricam Lite and Arriflex 235 (35mm film)
Lens: Leica Summilux-C Primes, Fuji Premier Zooms, Canon K-35

DP Paul Cameron: “Within a few minutes of my initial meeting with director/creator Jonathan Nolan, it was determined that the ‘Westworld’ pilot would be shot on 35mm film. The expectation for a big-dscreen cinematic feel was there from the onset. We wanted a specific elegance and authenticity to the image. Small, lightweight Arricam Lite and Arriflex 235 cameras in three perf configurations were used to photograph the pilot. Leica Summilux-C Primes and Fuji Premier Zooms were the main lenses. Canon K-35’s were used for the host dream sequence, adding a particular softness and flare quality to help separate the vibe from main storyline. I must admit that this was one of my favorite projects to work on. The opportunity to be a part of the conceptualization phase was empowering, as well as to have that much creative input with the director and production designer that early on in the process.”

Article Continues On the Next Page: Limited Series, from “Black Mirror” to “Fargo”

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