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From ‘Atlanta’ to ‘Twin Peaks,’ Here Are the Cameras and Lenses That Shot The Year’s Best TV Shows

18 Emmy-nominated cinematographers on how they created their shows’ unique look, and the gear they chose to pull it off.

Emmy nominated cinematographer Paula Huidobro on the set of "Barry"

Emmy nominated cinematographer Paula Huidobro on the set of “Barry”

HBO/ John P. Johnson

Outstanding 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”), Dana Gonzales (“Legion”), M. David Mullen (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Ben Kutchins (“Ozark”), Tim Ives (“Stranger Things”), and John Grillo (“Westworld”).

Last Year’s Winner: Colin Watkinson for “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“The Crown”

Cinematographer Adriano Goldman, director Stephen Daldry with Harry Hadden-Paton (Charteris) on the set of "The Crown"

Cinematographer Adriano Goldman, director Stephen Daldry with Harry Hadden-Paton (Charteris) on the set of “The Crown”

Alex Bailey / Netflix

Format: 4K
Camera: Sony F55.
Lens: We shot seasons 1 and 2 on vintage Cooke Panchros rehoused by TLS.

Adriano Goldman: The goal was always to achieve a gentle and realistic period look, not too glossy. The Sony F55 has a nice and smooth sensor and the Cooke Panchros are really soft and warm. In addition, we’ve been using Glimmer Glass filters and haze on set. All this combined with Martin Childs’ beautiful sets, with muted colors and big windows and Jane Petrie’s amazing costumes. We all share the same taste and goals, it’s been an incredible opportunity and privilege to be able to recreate history and to exercise my craft with such a talented team.

“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

Format: Arri UHD, Prores 4.4.4 (same as season 1)
Camera: ARRI Alexa Mini
Lens: Canon K35

Colin Watkinson: We try for a painterly look on “Handmaid’s Tale,” the mixture of the Alexa capture on Canon K35’s with the LUT we created works well for us. Color reproduction is so important to us, the Alexa suits our style beautifully. The physical versatility of the Mini, having multiple types of builds to suit how we are shooting is the perfect camera for our show. The wide aperture of the Canons help us achieve the shallow focus that we use to express the introspective POV style of the show.


LEGION -- Pictured: (l-r) Nathaniel Halpern, Dana Gonzales. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX

Co-Exec Nathaniel Halpern and Cinematographer Dana Gonzales on the set of “Legion”

Suzanne Tenner/FX

Format: In-Camera 4K UHD format
Camera: Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Zeiss Master Prime Spherical and Anamorphic Lenses.

Dana Gonzales: The Alexa Mini is an amazing camera with its small form factor. I also love the 4K-UHD mode as it does an amazing job with in-Camera uprezing and makes the VFX easier to work with as they always want the most resolution. Another feature I find indispensable is the internal ND Filters as I can change them on the fly, as the sun goes down or to creatively alter the depth of field.

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" cinematographer M. David Mullen

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” cinematographer M. David Mullen

Nicole Rivelli

Format: 3.2K ProRes 4444 (16×9)
Camera: ARRI Alexa XT and Mini
Lens: Panavision Primos, Panavision zooms

M. David Mullen: We picked the Alexa for its filmic qualities, which worked well with our period setting. The Panavision Primo lenses are sharp without being too contrasty, and we further softened the image with a #1/4 Schneider Hollywood Black Magic filter. The diffusion added a bit of romance to the image. The camera often moved quickly from room to room while also circling around the actors, so the small size of the Mini was very useful. While we briefly discussed using older lenses or adding film grain to achieve a 1950’s period look, the approach from the beginning was to create a colorful, vibrant, energetic feeling for the show – we didn’t feel the need to stylize the photography in a way that would detract from that, rather we let the sets and costumes establish the period.



“Ozark” cinematographer Ben Kutchins

Jackson Davis/Netflix

Format: 4k AVC-Intra4k444
Camera: Panasonic Varicam
Lens: Cooke s4 and Canon Zoom

Ben Kutchins: Jason Bateman and I wanted to create a cold and inhospitable world for “Ozark,” a dangerous place where it felt like the characters could disappear into the shadows of the forest or slip under the water at any moment. I used a mostly cyan color palette, starting with an in-camera LUT that mimics an old Fujifilm stock, and then I pushed that idea further in color timing. I wanted a naturalistic look, something rough around the edges with a lot of grit and grain to it. On set I used a wide open aperture and embraced flares and flaws, always looking for a way to bring out the character of the lenses. I significantly underexposed the image which gets what I’m looking for out of the sensor, mining the shadows for grime keeps the feeling of terror for the Byrde family immediate and the stakes high.

I never want the characters or sets to feel lit or be overly precious, yet a lot of effort goes into creating the shadows and nuances of the lighting. We tend to keep the camera closer to the actors on wider lenses to lend an immediacy to the action, using very controlled camera movements and specific framing to create an ambience of constant danger. The audience’s perspective into our world should be so engaging that they want to climb into the frame and look around the corner. I look at every scene and location with that in mind and have a lot of fun figuring how to tease out that hidden thing, that secret, that lie, that thing that is simmering just beneath the surface.

“Stranger Things”

"Stranger Things" cinematographer Tim Ives

“Stranger Things” cinematographer Tim Ives


Format: Red digital
Camera: Red Weapon, helium sensor 8K with 6K extraction
Lens: Leica Summilux C primes

Tim Ives: After testing many camera and lens combinations in season one I settled on the Red/Leica combination primarily due to the softer classic look it allowed me to achieve for this 1980’s period piece. The Leicas are very complimentary on faces and offer a contrast that even in lower light would still let our characters “pop” without looking digital or modern at all.

The look has evolved in Season 2 with more saturation and color contrast in the lighting giving a more optimistic feeling in the beginning, and then as the show gets darker we bring the tones closer together and cooler. The lenses handle all this beautifully and predictably. Combined with The Weapon/Helium I found the look reminded me of Kodak 5293, one of my favorite old 200 asa stocks. Except now we can rate from 800-1280 asa.


ATTACHMENT DETAILS Westworld-John-Grillo-credit-John-P-Johnson-HBO.jpg August 15, 2018 1,010 KB 2292 × 3300 Edit Image Delete Permanently URL https://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Westworld-John-Grillo-credit-John-P-Johnson-HBO.jpg Title Westworld John Grillo Caption

“Westworld” cinematographer John Grillo

John P. Johnson/HBO

Format: 35mm film. We used Kodak 5203 50D, 5207 250D and 5219 500T
Camera: Arricam ST and LT
Lens: Arri Master Primes and Angenieux Optimo zooms

John Grillo: The opportunity to shoot on film doesn’t come often, so when I was hired for Season 2 of “Westworld” I was both excited and a bit nervous, as I had not used it in a long while. That nervousness disappeared when I started watching dailies. Not only was the latitude of the film mind blowing but the one thing I noticed right away, that I hadn’t seen for the longest time shooting digital, was the exquisite way that film renders skin tones. The color and texture were just right. We shot a lot of day exteriors in harsh sunlight and film brought another dimension to the landscape and our characters close ups. You could feel the softness of Dolores’s skin and you could almost touch every line on the Man in Black’s face. With digital it can be a struggle under those conditions and subject to myriad of interpretations in color correction, but film is unique. There’s a line in “Westworld” that is repeated a couple of times throughout the season : “That which is real is irreplaceable.” Film has that mystique about it and it was the perfect medium to bring this story to life.

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