The Cameras Used in the 2018 Oscar-Nominated Films

March 9th, 2018
The Cameras Used in the 2018 Oscar-Nominated Films

Today we’ll take a look at the cameras used in the Oscar-nominated films in the Cinematography and Best Picture categories. The results may surprise you… or not!

One of the most interesting questions that may strike your curiosity when watching a movie – and especially one nominated for an Oscar – is “what camera was that shot on?” For us filmmakers, when it comes to choosing the right camera, these films can serve as a sort of reference, especially in a time when there are so many cinema cameras, sensors and ultra high-resolution goodies to choose from.

So, we had a look at the Tech Spec section of all of these movies’ IMDB page. Check out the list below to find out what cameras were used for this year’s Oscar-nominated films:

Blade Runner 2049 :Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Alexa Plus, Arri Alexa XT Studio

Darkest Hour: Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Alexa SXT Plus

Dunkirk: IMAX MKIV, IMAX MSM 9802, Panavision 65 HR Camera, Panavision Panaflex System 65 Studio

Mudbound: Arri Alexa Mini

The Shape of Water:  Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Alexa XT Plus

Call Me by Your Name: Arricam LT

Get Out: Arri Alexa Mini

Lady Bird: Arri Alexa Mini

Phantom Thread: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

The Post: Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Arri Alexa XT Plus

So, what can we learn from this? First, no RED! Not even as a B cam. It turns out that the ARRI ALEXA still dominates the cinema market (excluding the IMAX cameras in Dunkirk), and it’s the preferred camera for many DPs – likely because of its pedigree and color science. Furthermore, the favorite camera here is the ALEXA Mini, a more budget-friendly option than the other ARRI beasts.

Another interesting fact: most of the source formats were under 4K! The most common format this year was ARRIRAW (3.4K), meaning we are still quite a long way from shooting Oscar-winning projects in 8K. Then again, does it matter at all?

Does this data surprise you? Did you expect to see RED in this list? Let us know your thoughts!

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 Matt Carter
Matt Carter
MemberMarch 9th, 2018

Love my Alexa mini!

Angus Khan
Angus Khan
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

Three Billboards was also partially shot on Ursa Mini…

Chris Reynolds
Chris Reynolds
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

Haha

 Markus Magnon
Markus Magnon
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

Arri Alexa XT Plus, Panavision C-Series Lenses
Negative FormatCodex ARRIRAW (2.8K)

Jeremy Woods
Jeremy Woods
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

I didn’t even have to open it. Arri Arri Arri Arri and Arri.

Always. Arri.

Maybe film.

Chris Reynolds
Chris Reynolds
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

More films shot on film than RED cameras…….

Erick Lorena
Erick Lorena
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

I just love the look and natural grain in “call me by your name”. That felt like we really are in the 80’s.. Just a reminder that even the camera used may be a part of the story.

Other than that and the ones used on Dunkirk, we must admit, Arri Alexa is a god among cameras.

 David M
David M
MemberMarch 12th, 2018

Not only on film, but all with ONE lens. Its fantastic.

 Robin Erard
Robin Erard
MemberMarch 9th, 2018

Good point! Resolution above 4K is useless.

 Markus Magnon
Markus Magnon
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

“The most common format this year was ARRIRAW (3.4K)”
This! People here often goes nuts about 4k. 90% of all Digital Projectors in Cinema are 2k projectors. Of course it is nice to shoot in 4k and scale it down, reframe, whatever.

Personally I am really excited to see a Blackmagic Pocket 2 or Micro 2 Camera. Maybe a slighly bigger sensor. 2.8k. 13 stops. maybe 14 or 15. Raw 3:1 or Raw 5:1 internal recording. That would be great. I could not care less about v-log / s-log 4K ISO 64.000 low light consumer mirrorless cam. Blackmagic is the only brand that is pushing “cinematic” to the consumer market and it is a shame that people choose a camera like the GH5 over a BMMCC.

 David M
David M
MemberMarch 12th, 2018

They only don’t shoot DCI 4k because until the LF Arri didn’t support that format.
Now that it does everything will be shot in it.

 Tom Roper
Tom Roper
MemberMarch 12th, 2018

I love Blackmagic but let’s get real, they are hardly the “only brand” pushing “cinematic” to the consumer market, and there is no shame in choosing a GH5 over anything. I’m an owner operator with Sony F55 but I’m not a brand shill, open enough to realize the advantages of portability, lightness and low light sensitivity (GH5s) so I also own the GH5 and GH5s. And then you’re ignoring Kinefinity which also seems set to make a splash according to remarks from Phil Bloom. It’s fine to be a fan of Blackmagic. I’m grateful especially for their excellent suite of post processing products and software, and innovative low cost cinema cameras like the Ursa Mini 4.6k Pro but let’s face it, they are probably going to be overtaken by the slew of competitors that are faster into an increasingly competitive market with features, price and performance.

 Konstantin Zettiness
Konstantin Zettiness
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

Oh Markus, get off your cinematic horse. Maybe the stilted, formulic, billions times copied style and shooting structure is not for everyone, especially when technology is starting to allow working differently. There’s much more to the film than the image, and especially with a lower budget, I’d be as flexible as possible, secure a decent image and put my focus elsewhere. No to mention documetary shooting etc. A good shot is shot that was captured.

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

This should be “FRONT PAGE” to all the KIDS studying nonsense…

https://ascmag.com/articles/a-clear-look-at-the-issue-of-resolution
http://yedlin.net/ResDemo/

The End of all Camera Resolution Myths:
https://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/the-end-of-all-camera-resolution-myths/

Only use for above 4k is VFX! (after denoising ;-) )

Matt Black
Matt Black
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

Not s single Red

Rafael Molina
Rafael Molina
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

Wasn’t Guardians of The Galaxy II shot entirely with 8K RED’s?

 Markus Magnon
Markus Magnon
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

YES,
IMDB:

Camera:
– Phantom Flex 4K, Leica Summicron-C Lenses (some scenes)
– Red Weapon Dragon, Panavision Primo 70 and Leica Summicron-C Lenses

Robert Halliday Jr.
Robert Halliday Jr.
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

Don’t expect marvel to win anything ?

Rafael Molina
Rafael Molina
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

Ugh, no, I don’t. I was just saying. Hate superhero movies from Marvel and DC.

Lâm Tran
Lâm Tran
GuestMarch 9th, 2018

7/11 movies shot on digital format. Next year, I bet it’s gonna increase. In five years, by the exponential growth rate of digital techs, films will likely died

Erick Lorena
Erick Lorena
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

I’ve read something about being cheaper to use digital cameras. But the thing is, there is a difference in style, so even if we see more and more digital films, some directors will still use film, in order to achieve a specific classic look

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

Good post production house like Fotokem can achieve any specific classic film look from digital material.

“FILM IS DEAD”: (I know tell this to Nolan ;0) )

http://www.definitionmagazine.com/journal/2010/3/26/out-of-the-dark-ages.html

Trevor Zemenij
Trevor Zemenij
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

Erick Lorena film will not die.. digital cinema cameras is just less than 25 years old technology. Film is 100+years old technology… I strongly agree with you.

 Tom Roper
Tom Roper
MemberMarch 9th, 2018

No, there was a mistake. I opened the wrong envelope. Sony is the winner for Best Cinema Camera.

Jan Kek
Jan Kek
MemberMarch 9th, 2018

I would be quite concerned with the monopoly. Interesting to see that there are only 3 films shots purely analog.
We don’t see RED or even Blackmagic.

 Matt Carter
Matt Carter
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

It’s not monopoly when people are free to chose the best product for the job. When you spend the amount needed to make a film, you’re not going to cheap out and use a sub par image capture option.

Robert Howard
Robert Howard
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

I’m waiting for a best picture nominee to be shot on a camera costing less than 5 thousand.

 Elisha Rhea
Elisha Rhea
MemberMarch 24th, 2018

Thumbs Up…

Robin Kroon
Robin Kroon
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

Louis Masi no REDs ?

Louis Masi
Louis Masi
GuestMarch 10th, 2018

Yeah the arri alexa is popular af atm!

 Ari Kirschenbaum
Ari Kirschenbaum
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

Hollywood DPs love those Alexas. Now that the Arri LF is coming out expect to see that more as well.

I think this brings up the question, why no RED? With higher Rez, smaller form factor, and more flexibility in post you’ve got to wonder why it’s not here.

I think it’s because there is something missing in RED’s image. It’s like 80-90% there, but it’s missing that final pop that make images come alive and these DPs see it, and they don’t care about a resolution that is 2x higher than Alexa.

I didn’t check every credit in their filmographies, but I saw no RED usage by the Best Picture Nominated DPs.

It’s pretty much all film and Alexas.

 David M
David M
MemberMarch 12th, 2018

Why no RED? Because the current sensors just don’t deliver the colour palette that people want in their films.
GOTG 2 was shot with them, and you would not BELIEVE the amount of heartache that went on about it in grading.
RED make excellent cameras, but they can be volatile, and have a very definite colour push toward the (ironically) red colour spectrum, and look great in projects that favour very high contrast.
The ARRIs tend toward blue, look great in a flatter tone curve, and handle highlights beautifully.

If you couple those things with bulletproof reliability, its a no-brainer.
Personally, I think the Arri Mini is the best camera for all round filmmaking since the Arri 435.

 Erkki Juurus
Erkki Juurus
MemberMarch 10th, 2018

“One of the most interesting questions that may strike your curiosity when watching a movie – and especially one nominated for an Oscar – is “what camera was that shot on?””

Well, at least in my case the more interesting tidbit is how many movies, if any, were made on film, and which kind of lenses were used in each movie. Beyond that, the list has been featuring pretty much the same usual suspects for the past decade or so, with very few exceptions here and there.

“most of the source formats were under 4K!”

And?

“Does this data surprise you?”

Nope.

“Did you expect to see RED in this list?”

Not really. Maybe an odd Sony might have been even more likely than a RED, but I digress. Beyond that, the Arri dominance has hardly been any surprise for a good while now.

That said, if you widen your scope beyond the few high budget Oscar winners of this year to all films released during the past few years or during this decade, with or without Oscar nominations, including smaller budget indie productions and maybe even documentaries, there will be more diversion in cameras.

Sure, on the top movie list there will still be a whole lot of Arris and some film cameras, but you’ll also spot a few Sonys, possibly REDs, too, maybe even some Canons and others. Count in TV productions, and there may be even more diversion.
For example, there have been two Oscar nominees and winners shot mostly with 16mm Arri and Aaton film gear.

 Tony Lorentzen
Tony Lorentzen
MemberMarch 11th, 2018

I’m kinda annoyed by the non-story of this article. The “journalist” on this story should take his time and look into why there might be a reason for the massive over-representation of ARRI cameras in this area. I don’t it has anything to do with the fact that ARRI cameras are better than other cameras but it probably has more to do with historic facts of a deep belief in ARRI as a company, their long-lasting position in the film business and the way they treat cinematographers that shoot on their cameras.

 David M
David M
MemberMarch 12th, 2018

No, its mainly because Arri make better digital cameras than anyone else right now.

Tim Naylor
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

A little journalistic analysis beyond an “Arri press release” would be nice.

 Carlos A.
Carlos A.
MemberMarch 11th, 2018

When you shoot a movie is not only about resolution is about ergonomics on the set and the general workflow.
Arri cameras give you really nice image but most important for a DoP, is really easy to use and you don’t get crazy to get the look you want on your recorder.
The response of the sensor and the eletronics is very similar to the film and very constant in wired light/color condition, without many ‘bad’ surprises, like some other camera do.
What does cost much in a movie is not renting few camera but paying all the people around the set, if you lose time shooting you lose $$$$ every minute, if you can’t get your light set up fast and show to the director he get the image style you promise to him because your camera is a nightmare you have good chance to lose your job.

Btw sound like many people here don’t know that in film industry the camera is the DoP choice and not the director choice.

Even for medium-short time shooting project renting a Alexa mini can be the best choice.
In 2017 (and I believe also 2018) I didn’t meet any serious producer that consider shooting in 8k, maybe some marketing guys who want use the buzz that the “8k” make, and some nerds that still think resolution is the factor that transform a crappy scenario to a Oscar winning movie.
Professionals DoP go most of the time for Arri because is the best professional camera in the market for traditional movie shooting.
If your shooting conditions change you can use a better camera for this particular context, be felxible when you chose your camera: be smart and kill your inner fanboy.

 Flat Steve
Flat Steve
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

excellent comment Carlos, thank you.

Tim Naylor
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

People ask why so few Reds? Or point out if you factor in TV you’d get a lot more Reds. The reason for so many Reds in broadcast is that Netflix and Amazon has made 4k 10 bit plus a mandate regardless of IQ. When tech guys make unjustified calls this is what you get. When the filmmakers choose, you get Arri – for now. Unless I’m ten feet from the screen or have my face pressed up against my computer, I can’t tell the difference between 2 or 4k. But I can see the streaming artifacts of 4k as Amazon and Nflix force too much data through inadequate bandwidth.

Steve Oakley
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

having actually used many of these cameras… RED’s are unreliable in my experience. You just never know when they will not work, not accept TC, RED Mags wipe out and you have to have a spare body basically with you as a hot swap. Never mind their choice of odd ball connectors which aren’t consistent across bodies to make things more complicated.

Not a huge fan of the Alexa Mini either. It too suffers from oddball connectors, lack of proper operator controls. Sure its small, sure it makes nice pix and is so far been reliable, but it has its limitations too in ergonomics. its fine for remote / steadicam work but using it as an A camera on a long job wouldn’t get my vote. The regular Alexas are much more pleasant to work with, or the much unrated Amira which I like.

s b
s b
MemberMarch 13th, 2018

Interesting, but may be mainly a referendum on who are the most talented film makers and what equipment are they familiar/comfortable with (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). If those same film makers were forced to use other cameras, what would have happened? So if its the talent rather than the camera determining the oscars, I would expect a lot of inertia keeping other products from breaking into this list. It would be interesting to extend these stats to other lists, such as what movies were shot by camera, to get a feel for “hey, I loved that movie and it was shot on…”.

Arnold Finkelstein
Arnold Finkelstein
GuestMarch 13th, 2018

Yes, we need to make sure there is “diversity” in camera selection.

 J Dashford
J Dashford
MemberMarch 14th, 2018

Total Alexa domination. I think a lot of this comes down to industry paranoia. Hollywood doesn’t like risk, they pick the same actors over and over again, hire the same crews repeatedly etc etc. If you are a DP and you pick the ALEXA you instantly remove 1 risk factor that may get you fired. Same is happening in TV, if you choose anything other than an FS7 “it’s on your head mate”.

 Elisha Rhea
Elisha Rhea
MemberMarch 24th, 2018

Exactly

Roberto Mettifogo
Roberto Mettifogo
MemberMarch 14th, 2018

Oh, they used Arris… Not gh5s!

Tim Naylor
MemberMarch 14th, 2018

I don’t buy the assertions here that Alexa’s dominate because Hollywood is slow to change or “inertia”. What were they using before Alexa’s? Productions jumped from Panavision to Alexa’s in a heart beat. They did not embrace the Arri D 20. DP’s choose Alexa because of the image and producers like the simple workflow as well as reliability. At this level of DP’s, if there’s a better camera, you can bet they have the budget to test it and incorporate it. I’m sure virtually all of these DP’s have done side by sides with the prevailing cameras. It’s that they don’t post everything they do on Youtube. Another thing to think about is reliability. If a camera goes down for even five minutes on a large budget film, do the math – that costs way more than the weekly rental rate. Imagine data corruption which could lead to a half day re-shoot (assuming it’s found during the day). Again the cost of that could be six digits or more.

A few years back, I did an ABC test with Alexa, Red Dragon and F55 for a feature with some big names. We screened the results to the director and producers on a 20′ screen at Company 3 (NYC’s premier post house) with no credits whatsoever. No one knew what camera they were viewing. Then we took a poll. The results were unanimous. They all chose the Alexa (at 2k shot on Pro Rez 4444) over Red (Raw) and F55 (Raw). There wasn’t even a debate. No one was loyal to any brand. None of us techs were surprised. 2nd and 3rd were Red then F55. No one cared or noticed the Red and Sony were screened at 4k. The overwhelming reaction was toward the colors in that they looked natural, true to life, especially the skin tones. Considering we’re looking at actors most the time, this took priority over resolution, DR or Raw. Now imagine if we screened Arri raw. But I was confident, even in pro rez, it’d wipe the floor with the competition.

This is what the competition is up against. Red’s lease on life for high end is kept afloat by Netflix/Amazon 4k mandate and EFX/Composite heavy films (Marvel, Michael Bay, etc). The new LF will undoubtedly change this. I also believe, though off to a slow start, Panasonic Varicam will make inroads to high end Oscar worthy shows. Some big TV shows are incorporating it. The color science is excellent and the Dual ISO is a game changer. Meanwhile Red still hasn’t figured out internal ND’s.

 J Dashford
J Dashford
MemberMarch 14th, 2018

Hollywood is incredibly slow and it leans heavily on “industry standards”. This camera gets picked for a number of factors but mainly because it’s trusted, readily available, well supported, well understood and versatile.

Does it have the best image? Probably not, but who cares!

Great images are not created by cameras, they are created by a combination of 100+ factors with the camera being only 1. This is what the tech nerds on YouTube fail to understand. The public doesn’t buy cinema tickets based on what camera the film was shot on (discounting the novelty factor of IMAX (which is usually upscaled) or 3D)

 Elisha Rhea
Elisha Rhea
MemberMarch 24th, 2018

Hollywood buys reliability and consistency. Alexa has established itself as dependable camera.It’s ironic too that with Canon all their new releases in cameras,Hollywood DP’s sill chose the 10 year old 5DMarkII for tight spots that the Alexa cannot get into.Which goes to show that DP will chose a camera with a proven track record on consistency and reliability. But I heard that RED Dragon is making headway though.

Steve Oakley
MemberMarch 24th, 2018

actually BMD cameras are the crash cam of choice for a lot of productions. the 5D images suck in comparison due to its more limited DR, more shallow DoF, and really bad on board codec, and for action – rolling shutter.

having graded a few shows using dslr’s, the GH4 blew away the 5D2 or 3 for gradation and color rendering. OTH canon C series matched GH4’s very well.

 Alex Tan
Alex Tan
MemberJune 4th, 2018

I am impressed by the fact that about 75% of the Oscar-nominated films are shot in the taller 1.85:1 “flat” aspect ratio, even when the majority of today’s films are shot in the 2.39:1 “scope” aspect ratio. Although I’m a fan of scope, I actually prefer the 1.85:1 ratio because of the extra height, but I’ll still use scope for the more epic films.

Scott
Scott
GuestJanuary 22nd, 2019

Does no surprise me. I shot my short film on an Alexa Mini. The color was…stunning.

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