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TIFF 2017: Here Are the Cameras Used To Shoot 40 of This Year’s Best Films

The world's best DPs explain how they created looks for Guillermo del Toro’s “Shape of Water,” Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!,” and many more.

Lucrecia Martel and DP Rui Poças Shooting “Zama”

Lucrecia Martel and DP Rui Poças shooting “Zama”

“Professor Marston & The Wonder Women”

DP Bryce Fortner on the set of "Professor Marston & The Wonder Women"

DP Bryce Fortner on the set of “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women”

Claire Folger/Annapurna

Dir: Angela Robinson, Dir: Bryce Fortner
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S4s

Fortner: “Budget and schedule were tight, so we needed a camera with great low light capabilities and latitude to help us work as quickly as possible. Aesthetically, I also like to shoot with available light and practicals, so Alexa was the obvious choice. Particularly, the Mini performs better at higher ISOs (and I love how the image looks at 1280 and 1600), so it won out over the other Arri sensors. We also regularly shot with two cameras; cross-shooting most of our dialogue scenes. We were on all practical locations, some quite small, so the smaller size of the body certainly helped with that.

As for lenses, the S4s are soft, but not in a way that calls attention to themselves. This story is so interesting, but also very real, so it was important that the look be grounded and natural so we could tell the best version of it. It was important that the actors and story be put first, and we didn’t want an imposed style to get in the way of that.“




AccuSoft Inc.

Dir: Michael Noer, DP: Hagen Boganski
Camera: Arri Alexa and Mini
Lens: Ultra primes

Boganski: “The perfect cinematic look — soft and beautiful.”

“The Rider”

DP Joshua James Richards shooting "The Rider"

DP Joshua James Richards shooting “The Rider”

Dir: Chloé Zhao, DP: Joshua James Richards
Camera: Arri Amira, 3.2k pro res 4444
Lens: Zeiss Ultra Primes

Richards: “Chloe and I knew going in that we’d be shooting in a wide range of uncontrollable locations and often challenging lighting conditions. This called for the Amira’s versatility and ergonomic ease, which is so important on shoots like this. It’s a lightweight camera that is so well balanced on the shoulder, yet with the Arri sensor you’re still getting the highest cinematic image quality, with great skin tones and dynamic range. Whether it be a run-and-gun rodeo situation, chasing horses galloping through the badlands, or intimate family scenes in a dimly lit trailer home, the Amira holds up.”

“The Shape of Water”

"The Shape of Water"

“The Shape of Water”

Dir: Guillermo del Toro, DP: Dan Laustsen
Camera: Arri Alexa ST, Alexa Mini
Lens: Master Prime lenses

Laustsen: “When Guillermo del Toro and I commenced our process on ‘Shape of water’ and talked about how to film his amazing script, it was important for us to tell the 1962 story in a modern yet classical style. It was paramount to us that the light should be a great part of the dramatic story telling, with deep shadows and soft highlights; and that all the actors would be lit as pleasing and classically as possible.

“In order to achieve this, we needed to use a camera with the the best color reproduction and best exposure latitude. We chose the Alexa ST and Mini, and since we love sharp and contrasted images, we chose the Master Prime Lenses. This equipment really helped us in achieving the visual expression we strived for.”

“The Square”

Fredrik Wenzel on the set of "The Square"

Fredrik Wenzel on the set of “The Square”

Dir: Ruben Ostlund, DP: Fredrik Wenzel
Camera: Arri ALEXA XT

Wenzel: “‘The Square’ was shot on the Alexa XT in open gate RAW on Master Primes, mostly on the 32mm. To me the Alexa feels almost neutral — it may sound silly, but sort of like a non-choice. Ruben and I hardly ever talk references, so to start with the cleanest slate possible felt like the way to go.”


"Thelma" Oscars


The Orchard

Dir: Joachim Trier, DP: Jakob Ihre
Camera: Arri Alexa Studio
Lens: Cooke Anamorphic/i

Ihre: “To shoot anamorphic was a big step away from our previous films which have all been shot with spherical lenses that have tried to portray the film’s characters and their milieus as naturalistically and honestly as possible. Anamorphic lenses do not do that; ‘Thelma’ has its roots in mystery and in the horror genre and it shows a world distorted and heightened. The characteristics and artifacts of our anamorphic lenses — lens breathing, blurry backgrounds, oval bouquets, distorted corners — I think help to transport the audience to an unsettling place of foreboding.”

“The Third Murder”

"The Third Murder" DP Mikiya Takimoto

“The Third Murder” DP Mikiya Takimoto

Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda, DP: Mikiya Takimoto
Camera: Arri Alexa XT Plus
Lens: Cooke Anamorphic/i, cooke S4/i, Optimo Anamorphic A2S Zoom Lens

Takimoto: “I wanted to use an anamorphic lens first. It was important to have scenes with three layers and have depth in the screen. It was mine and director Kore-eda’s mutual concern to have the walls of the interview room, lawyer’s office and the court very flat, or planar. We also wanted [real contrast in the] lighting, with shadows and light. So that is why we decided to use cinemascope anamorphic lens, but the problem was the maximum aperture (F-number) of the lens was lower than the ones I usually use, so, to compensate that, I used an Alexa which has an ISO level of 800, whereas the cameras I used for ‘Like Father, Like Son’ and ‘Our Little Sister’ only had around 250. We had many night-time scenes as well, so that is another reason we needed to use [this combination].

“This is actually the first time a Kore-eda film has ever uses a digital camera. I used an Alexa, but we employed film recording and we had the material processed to a negative print, then, I used my special procedures to have particles of film, and then had the print scanned then made it into a digital again. There are so many steps to complete, but having the footage processed into negative changed the feel of the material, and we were able to get rid of the too-fine slippery texture of digital material, and get a movie with a look of print shooting. One additional lens I used this time was with the imaginary scene in Hokkaido. I used a toy lens called Lens Baby, which creates both ends of the screen a bit blurry, to give the scene a stronger impression.”

“Three Christs”

DP Denis Lenoir on the set of "Three Christs"

DP Denis Lenoir on the set of “Three Christs”

Dir: Jon Avnet, DP: Denis Lenoir
Camera: Arri Alexa XT
Lens: Leica Summilux

Lenoir: “The Alexa is my usual work horse, it can do everything I want and so well. The Summilux lenses are just gorgeous and on top of that very user friendly for the AC and, last but not least, very light on my back when filming handheld compared to the competition.”

“Victoria and Abdul”

Victoria and Abdul DP Danny Cohen

Victoria and Abdul DP Danny Cohen

Peter Mountain/Focus Features

Dir: Stephen Frears, DP: Danny Cohen
Camera: Red Dragon (UK), Arri Alexa (India)
Lens: Zeiss Master Primes (UK), Cookes (India)

Cohen: “The majority of the film was shot on Red Dragon, the India shoot was on the Arri Alexa. I wanted
to have a different feel and look for each section and using two camera packages really helped. For the UK work I knew we do lots of handheld so for a period film it wouldn’t feel too traditional and slow moving. Mixing things up seemed the right way to go.”

“Woman Walks Ahead”

Woman Walks Ahead

“Woman Walks Ahead”

Dir: Susanna White, DP: Mike Eley
Camera: Arri Alexa XT
Lens: Panavision Ultra Speed & PVintage primes

Eley: “I wanted to use lenses that would give, what I would call, a ’roundness’ to the image — as well as take the edge off the sharpness of the digital sensor. Panavision in L.A. were extremely helpful and constructive in helping me find the right collection of primes that gave me speed as well as a distinctive look, without being too self-consciously retro.”



Dir: Lucrecia Martel, DP: Rui Poças
Camera: Arri Alexa Classic
Lens: Arri Zeiss Ultraprime

Poças: “For this film we were looking for robust lightweight standard speed motion picture lenses. Even though it is generally accepted that digital cinematography, and particularly period films, should use softer lenses, we wanted the kind of sharpness Ultraprime delivers, which would match our cinematography concept.”

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