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Emmys 2022: Cinematography Nominees on How They Shot the Year’s Best Shows

From "Euphoria" to "Atlanta" and "Loki" to "Station Eleven," 15 directors of photography tell IndieWire about the equipment they chose for their Emmy-nominated series — and, more importantly, why they chose it.

Loki cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw

“Loki” cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw

courtesy of Marvel Studios

As we have in the past, IndieWire reached out to this year’s nominees for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour), Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour), and Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, and asked them which cameras and lenses they used — but even more important: Why were these the right tools to create the look of their series?

The nominees’ answers are below, organized by Emmy category and in alphabetical order by series title.

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)

Euphoria cinematographer Marcell Rév

Behind the scenes of “Euphoria”

Eddy Chen/HBO

“Euphoria”

Nominated Episode: “The Theater and Its Double”

Format: 35mm (3 perf)
Camera: Arricam LT, Arri 435
Lens: Cooke S4, Cooke Panchro, Zeiss Super Speeds/B-speeds, Zeiss uncoated Super Speeds

Marcell Rév: Our goal for this season was to make it feel like a melancholic memory of high school years. The organic structure of these film stocks, the texture of old glass, the flairs, the imperfection of these tools combined felt like the right visual basis for this story.

Loki cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw

“Loki” cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw

courtesy of Marvel Studios

“Loki”

Nominated Episode: “Lamentis”

Format: Large format 6K
Camera: Sony Venice camera
Lens: Panavision Modified T Series Anamorphics

Autumn Durald Arkapaw: I worked with the amazing Dan Sasaki at Panavision to modify the T Series to give us the look I wanted for the show, which was a more vintage look. I usually shoot with Panavision C series so we modified the Ts to look closer to the characteristics I love.

My goal with shooting “Loki” — and whenever I approach shooting a project — is to make the digital images look like film. When we were designing the visual language of this project there were many 1970s references in film as well as mid-century modern design. I wanted to weave that vintage texture and nostalgia into the images. We shot the whole series at 2500 ISO, which renders amazing detail in the shadows and I also adore the Sony Venice’s wonderful color science.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel cinematographer M. David Mullen

M. David Mullen

Amazon Studios

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Nominated Episode: “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”

Format: Primary recording format is 3.2K 16×9 ProRes 4444, but some shots recorded 3.4K Arriraw Open Gate either for greenscreen work or post stabilization
Camera: Panavised Arri Alexa Mini
Lens: Panavision Primos

M. David Mullen: The way that the Arri Alexa retains overexposed highlight details in a film-like manner is not only very practical — because we do many long Steadicam moves where sometimes the light source is in the frame — but also appropriate for a period show that shouldn’t feel too clean and digital. Using the Mini makes sense for our often-used Steadicam but also allows us to use the MōVI Pro when needed for gimbal shots. The Primo lenses handle bright sources in the frame with minimal flaring but are also flattering to faces because they do not have excessive contrast. Visually the show walks a fine line between a “modern” energetic camera style with rich color saturation and a romantic period style with a mild degree of glamorization.

Eric Koretz, Arri Issler, and Amanda Marsalis line up a shot on the set of “Ozark”

courtesy of the filmmaker

“Ozark”

Nominated Episode: “A Hard Way to Go”

Format: Sony Raw X-OCN 5.7K
Camera: Sony Venice
Lens: Leica-R rehoused set and the Noctilux 50mm rehoused

Eric Koretz: “Ozark” has been using the Sony Venice since Season 2 and it certainly has helped define the look of the show. With its one stop NDs and dual ISO, the Venice is perfect for a TV environment where you often need to make changes on the fly. The Rialto mode, where the sensor block detaches from the body, helps get the camera into the tight spaces for the unsettling angles that we often employed.

For lenses, we often use shallow depth of field as a story element, guiding the viewer into our characters’ mindset. Using the Leica-R’s wide open, and especially the 35mm, 50mm noctilux, and 80mm were the perfect tool for that. They’re rehoused vintage lenses so they are the perfect mix of an organic look and sharpness, even wide open. Of course it takes excellent focus pullers and operators to make this work wide open, and on “Ozark” we had the best; between Liam Sinnott, Cristian Trova and Mike Fisher, and our operators Ari Issler, Dave Chameides and Trova and Kate Roberson.

Squid Game cinematographer Lee Hyung-deok

Behind the scenes of “Squid Game”

Noh Ju-han / Netflix

“Squid Game”

Nominated Episode: “Stick to the Team”

Format: Redcode raw (6K, 8K)
Camera: Red Weapon Monstro 8K
Lens: Arri Master prime lens set, Arri Alura LWT zoom 15.5-45mm, Arri Alura LWT zoom 30-80mm, Alura Studio zoom 45-250mm

Lee Hyung-deok: It seemed to me like the best option to play with multiple shooting formats while guaranteeing a resolution of 4K or higher. I had a lot of room for maneuver in terms of the frame rate, and it was highly interoperable with various camera support equipment and handheld equipment, making it convenient to use when we needed mobility. Also, it provided enough latitude in color reproduction, making it a good fit for outdoor shots in the dark. Overall, the high definition footage was easy to work with — to add computer graphics and all — and we were able to finish post-production successfully.

Winning Time cinematographer Todd Banhazl

Behind the scenes of “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”

Warrick Page

“Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”

Nominated Episode: “Pieces of a Man”

Format: 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, vintage tube camera
Camera: Panavision XL2, Arri 416, Beaulieu 8mm, Ikegami ITC-730A
Lens: Panavision Primos, Zeiss Ultra 16, Canon 16mm Zoom

Todd Banhazl: Our scripts had a kaleidoscopic, maximalist bravado and we wanted that reflected in the images. We based the looks on the dominant advertising styles of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, to reinterpret our collective memory of what America looked like to Americans at the time. Our main look was an older 35mm Ektachrome reversal film, and mixing into that we used 8mm to recreate a sense of time and place, documentary-style 16mm for basketball and for emotional accents within scenes, as well as vintage Ikegami tube video cameras from the 1980s to recreate the famous basketball games on TV as well as during narrative scenes to see our characters in a more vulnerable way contrasting with the more bold 35mm. We also used black and white film for special shots within scenes for jazzy accents. The idea was to blur the line between documentary realism and and the iconic mythic worlds that these characters inhabited. I always thought of the visual style of the show as a collage of textures, images, and ideas: an American culture mixtape.

Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour)

Atlanta cinematographer Christian Sprenger

Christian Sprenger on the set of “Atlanta”

Hiro Murai

“Atlanta”

Nominated Episode: “Three Slaps”

Format: 4.5k Arriraw Open Gate
Camera: Arri Alexa MiniLF
Lens: Olympus Zuiko by Zero Optik

Christian Sprenger: Loquareeous is a young man thrust into an unknown world that feels daunting and dangerous. The compact size of the MiniLF camera body allowed for a close intimacy in an all practical location show while still capturing that feeling of everything being a bit larger than life. The Olympus Zuikos lenses by Zero Optik strike that perfect sweet spot between unique characteristics and prestige image rendering all while still covering full frame sensor.

Barry cinematographer Carl Herse

Cinematographer Carl Herse and Anthony Carrigan on the set of “Barry”

Eric Schoonover

“Barry”

Nominated Episode: “Starting Now”
Format: 3.2K ProRes
Camera: Arri Mini
Lens: Arri Master Primes

Carl Herse: “Barry” is first and foremost a story. Our look is designed to be invisible to the viewer. Nothing about how we capture the series should call more attention to itself than the characters and narrative, so shooting on the Arri Mini with Master Prime lenses gives us a very clean image, with organic focus rolloff and minimal distortion in the wider lens increments. We always strive to light this series honestly, meaning with practically motivated sources and utilizing much of what the real world offers. Shooting under urban streetlights and capturing the glow of LA at night is possible with this combination of lenses and the Arri Mini’s clean image capture at 1280 ISO. The camera’s compact size allows us to work in real locations without relying too heavily on built sets, and ample options for rigging and camera platforms, such as when shooting the motorcycle chase sequence in episode 306. Our tone rides a very calculated line between comedy and tragedy, absurdity and terror. The sharpness of our optics coupled with Arri’s soft highlights and rich shadows lend themselves very well to the delicate balance that makes Barry the unique experience that it is.

"Grown-ish" cinematographer Mark Doering-Powell

Behind the scenes of “Grown-ish”

Jay Yowler

“Grown-ish”

Nominated Episode: “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See”

Format: 4K UHD ProRes 4444 and XQ
Camera: Arri Alexa Minis
Lens: Leitz Summilux-C

Mark Doering-Powell: Our Arri Alexa Minis let us move quickly between Steadicam, handheld, Ronins and other remote-heads, all of which are in constant rotation. Arri’s look is very filmic, and we lack nothing from what the sensor gives us.

The Summiluxes allow us to do nearly anything with a filter recipe of Tiffen Pearlescents and Smoques, but we sometimes remove one or both depending on the needs of the scene. A varying filter combo gives us a gentler look with veiling flares that we love. Pulling the filters gave us a sharper, grittier feel for some of the protest scenes. It all makes for very versatile camera and lensing setup.

Our gaffer, Jay Yowler, and I are constantly adding color to the lights to provide some color contrast. We’re rarely balancing cameras at 3200 or 5600, usually somewhere in-between and the Alexas love to soak up the colors coming at them. Our final colorist, Gareth Cook, is key to all this. He takes it the final stretch, elevating the work and going strong with day/dusk/night transitions or the journalistic look of the protests. We ended the third act with a protestor’s American flag backlit by a burning police cruiser. This was inspired by the photographs of Julio Cortez, taken for the AP at the Minneapolis protests over the death of George Floyd.

"Hacks" cinematographer Adam Bricker

“Hacks” cinematographer Adam Bricker on location at the Grand Canyon

Joel Marsh

“Hacks”

Nominated Episode: “The Click”

Format: Redcode Raw 8K
Camera: Red V-Raptor
Lens: Panavision Primo 70

Adam Bricker: Where season one of “Hacks” was set in the grandeur of Deborah Vance’s Las Vegas world, season two finds her getting back to her roots as she workshops a new set in dive bars and comedy clubs across the country. We were trading the cavernous mainstage of Deborah’s headlining show and lavish mansion for cramped back rooms and the tight quarters of a tour bus, which I knew would require some adjustments to our approach. To give ourselves a little more room to work, we downsized our camera body from a DXL2 to the Red V-Raptor. It was exciting and nerve-wracking to be the first major production to shoot on this brand new camera, but the teams at Red and Panavision went above and beyond for us. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Insecure cinematographer Ava Berkofsky

Ava Berkofsky

HBO

“Insecure”

Nominated Episode: “Reunited, Okay?”

Format: 3.8k digital
Camera: Alexa Mini
Lens: Cooke S5i

Ava Berkofsky: The Cooke S5is are fast modern primes that still have some real character. And being Cookes, they have a warmth and a beauty that is unique. They were the perfect solve for this show. We tested all kinds of lenses.

We shot on the Alexa Mini. The camera has great dynamic range on the bottom end, which is where you can dig out the texture of the digital format. We also tested 35mm, and surprisingly found that the Alexa would give us what we wanted more naturally.

Russian Doll. Director of Photography Ula Pontikos in episode 207 of Russian Doll. Cr. András D. Hadjú/Netflix © 2022

“Russian Doll” cinematographer Ula Pontikos

András D. Hadjú/Netflix

“Russian Doll”

Nominated Episode: “Nowhen”

Format: X-OCN XT
Camera: Sony Venice
Lens: Leitz Summilux – C, Baltars, Super Baltars, Zoom Cooke Varotal

Ula Pontikos: For the second season of “Russian Doll,” we take an audacious leap into time travel and the metaverse as the show delves into Natasha Lyonne’s character’s past. The timeline jumps from 2022, 1980s, 1960s and then to 1944.

We conceived of each decade as having an individual tone and the lenses were essential to making it happen. For the 1980s New York, we chose Baltars and Varotal Zoom. They create amazing bokeh and offsets the clean look of Leitz Summilux-C, which were the lenses that we chose for the modern timeline. We used Super Baltars for the 1940s. Venice 6k gave us shallow depth of field and a larger sensor. Period elements were shot on a deeper stop with 4k resolution to maximize the impact of time travel and demands of the final delivery.

Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie

Dopesick cinematographer Checco Varese

“Dopesick” cinematographer Checco Varese

courtesy of the filmmaker

“Dopesick”

Nominated Episode: “Breakthrough Pain”

Format: Spherical 6K X-OCN; XAVC S-I 4K 4:2:2 10bit
Camera: Sony Venice; SONY FX-3
Lens: Zeiss Supreme primes; Zeiss Compact zoom 15-30mm, 28-80mm, 70-200mm

Checco Varese: “Dopesick” is a human drama of villains, victims and heroes, and also a drama of despair and hope. The cinematography — I thought — had to be the eyes of the audience. We had to reflect on the story and not get caught in the look or the camera or the lighting. By the same token, the audience had to be visually intrigued and engaged constantly. The choice to use the Sony Venice — and the FX3 — was based on the ample latitude, high ISO, and beautiful color rendering — the story took place mostly on the East Coast, with its blue skies, green foliage, and snowy fields and the Sony portrays that world wonderfully.

The choice of lenses was equally important — the Zeiss Supremes are beautiful and to me, they reflect “life without a patina of authority.” It’s like you are taking the audience inside the story without telling them what to feel. We shot “Dopesick” in large format and that gave us a wonderful fall off (the lens was mostly wide open 1.9) so we could choose where to have the audience attention (focus). I’m very pleased with the combination of tools.

Gaslit cinematographer Larkin Seeple

“Gaslit” cinematographer Larkin Seeple

Jason Cole

“Gaslit”

Nominated Episode: “Will”

Format: 3.2k ProRes
Camera: Alexa Mini Super 35
Lens: Speed Panchros, Zeiss Super Speeds, Canon K35s, MiniHawk, Super Baltars

Larkin Seiple: On “Gaslit,” our director, Matt Ross, wanted to use the visuals to make bold choices and bring a sense of humanity to each character and their moral ambiguity, since we follow not only the heroes but also the villains and everyone in between during the Watergate scandal. We decided to use different lens sets between the main characters to enhance their perspectives and match their emotional arc and mental state.

We spent a whole day testing every lens Keslow Camera could find in a small motel room set with stand-ins. We were chasing an image that was harsh and real but also compelling and photographic: an elevated version of 1970s street photography. We shifted between dramatic looks of blown-out windows, strong back light, hard front light, fluorescents, and tungsten practicals. We pushed the lenses to expose their flaws because we wanted to light the film in a very real manner to combat the fact that we were shooting primarily on stages.

We landed on Canon K35s for Martha, the martyr of the story, as they felt soft and intimate with subtle fall off on the edges. Impressionistic at times. This type of glass also had a raw quality, a flare and veiling that made you feel present in the space.

For the villains like Gordon Liddy and his cohorts we danced between Cooke Speed Panchros and Zeiss Super Speeds. The Super Speeds really had a bite to them, an edge and contrast that stood out against the other characters. For flashbacks we opted to use the MiniHawks which created a very fragile looking image.

We also reserved some focal lengths for specific actors, the Super Speed 25mm was only used for Gordon Liddy’s close-ups, lovingly referred to as “The Liddy”, as the lens had a distorted and off-kilter effect.

Our story is from the past but has many modern political implications so we tried to create something timeless. We didn’t want a gritty 16mm look nor did we want the super sharp large format look with the very modern super shallow depth off field. We found the super 35mm sensor on the Alexa Mini was perfect, it allowed us to still see our beautiful sets while shooting wide open but also softened the images just enough and took the edge off highlights. The cameras were small and lean allowing us to shoot multiple actors at once as performance was the priority and we wanted to let the cast change it up each take.

Along with the appropriate camera and lenses we also created a “look” for the show with our colorist Alex Bickel. The look was based a film stock from 1970s: Eastman 100T 5254. It was super contrasty with bold skin tones and very inky shadows. More importantly it didn’t have the cyan shadows that you see in many modern films, but instead has a cobalt blue edge to the night work.

(L-R): Director of Photography Gregory Middleton and Director Mohamed Diab on the set of Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Gabor Kotschy. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

Cinematographer Gregory Middleton and director Mohamed Diab on the set of “Moon Knight”

Gabor Kotschy

“Moon Knight”

Nominated Episode: “Asylum”

Format: ArriRaw
Camera: Alexa Mini LF
Lens: Arri Signature Primes, Compact primes, Signature and Fujinon zooms

Gregory Middleton: The style of cinematography varied as the story progressed, but one style we returned too often was to be close to the first person experience of Oscar Isaac’s characters. I really liked how the slightly wider focal lengths made his closeups feel very intimate. The Signature primes are quite light which helped our Mini LF be made very mobile for handheld and compact spaces. We occasionally used the Compact series when even smaller profile was needed. The Signatures being very fast (T1.4) was useful as well in certain scenes. Having them all match perfectly was essential for our multiple camera “twinning” scenes and to have multiple units with matching optics on such a large production.

Station Eleven cinematographer Christian Sprenger

Behind the scenes of “Station Eleven”

Parrish Lewis

“Station Eleven”

Nominated Episode: “Wheel of Fire”

Format: 4.5k Arriraw Open Gate
Camera: Arri MiniLF
Lens: Masterbuilt

Christian Sprenger: At it’s core, the story of “Station Eleven” deals with the common man’s relationship to the structures that modern society has built. In the first episode, our character and audience are constantly encountering incredible scale in the architectural wonders of the city of Chicago. Pairing these unique modern optics with a large format sensor allowed the camera to embody that sense of scale and afforded greater control over sharing it with the audience.

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