×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Creative Arts Emmy Cinematography Contenders Meet Challenges of TV’s New Golden Age

Proliferating channels have led to an upsurge in quality and creativity

The formerly sharp line dividing television cinematography from feature film visuals continues to blur.

Technology is certainly a factor, but the trend is also driven by new players — and attitudes — in TV production.

“There’s a lot of groundbreaking cinematography in television,” says Michael Goi, DP on “American Horror Story: Hotel.” “With new companies like Netflix and Amazon producing edgy material, there’s an openness on the part of the audience to seeing things in ways they haven’t before. And that drives openness on the part of producers and studios.”

Goi shot “Hotel” on film, using hand-cranked cameras for scenes depicting silent-era Hollywood.

Another throwback getting Emmy buzz is Fox’s “The X-Files.” The original show made television imagery darker and creepier in the early 1990s. DP Joel Ransom returned for the six-episode season 10.

Lana and Lilly Wachowski brought along Oscar-winning DP John Toll, who lensed their features “Cloud Atlas” and “Jupiter Ascending,” on another journey: their ambitious “Sense8.” In the Netflix sci-fi series, eight characters live in different cities around the world. “That required a lot of flexibility,” says Toll, who shot in 4K using Sony F55 cameras. “It became a very fluid, spontaneous style out of necessity.”

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has rewritten the manual for multi-location shoots. This year, Emmy voters will consider the team camerawork of Anette Haellmigk, Fabian Wagner, Jonathan Freeman, Gregory Middleton and P.J. Dillon.

Tech tricks also improve the art. On Netflix’s “Bloodline,” DP Jaime Reynoso avoided traditional TV coverage and added cinematic traits by using Hawk 1.3x anamorphic lenses, adding a subtler squeeze than 2x anamorphic.

Similarly, Peter Menzies Jr. shot three-quarters of History’s “Roots” miniseries remake using the Hawk 1.3s, prizing the resulting background separation and depth of field. A glance at the original 1977 mini on ABC illustrates how high the bar has been raised for TV cinematography.

DP David Klein uses specially adapted Canon Cinema Primes on Showtime’s “Homeland,” and Manuel Billeter uses Panavision PVintage glass, which mimics the flavor of older lenses, on Netflix’s “Jessica Jones.” Michael McDonough, on AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead,” uses Hawk’s Vintage ’74 glass.

Other productions getting a look from ATAS members: USA’s “Mr. Robot,” shot by Tod Campbell; FX’s “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” lensed by Nelson Cragg; and Netflix’s “Master of None,” shot by Mark Schwartzbard.

Not to mention HBO’s “Vinyl,” with period cinematography by Reed Morano and David Franco; and Fox’s “Empire,” shot by Paul Sommers.

“I don’t think that television cinematography, as good as it is right now, has even reached the artistic heights it is capable of,” Goi says. “I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.”

Pictured: “Sense8

More Artisans

  • Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B.

    Armani, Variety Salute Beauty Innovators in Makeup Styling

    On Feb. 20, Variety and Giorgio Armani will team up for the 2019 Make-Up Artistry Dinner to toast four of the most sought-after celebrity make-up artists in Hollywood: Nick Barose, Molly Greenwald, Beau Nelson and Patrick Ta. Held at Sunset Tower Restaurant Terrace, this A-list-studded event, featuring such dazzling stars as Olivia Munn and Constance [...]

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • ILM John Kroll Star Wars VFX

    Sci-Tech Awards Honored After Effects, Photoshop Developers' Major Impact on VFX

    On Feb. 9, two weeks and a day before the Oscars, the Motion Picture Academy held its annual Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards — sometimes referred to as the nerd Academy Awards — honoring achievements in motion picture technology.  The ceremony included no surprise winners — Sci-Tech kudos are announced in advance, and the achievements [...]

  • Steven Spielberg Lee Orloff Mary Jo

    Cinema Audio Society Honors Steven Spielberg, Lee Orloff and Mary Jo Lang

    At the Cinema Audio Society Awards on Feb. 16, CAS is honoring a trio of artists. The event take place at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel.   Steven Spielberg, Filmmaker Award It’s hard to overestimate the influence of the three-time Oscar winner, a towering figure in Hollywood for decades. A prolific director-producer-screenwriter, who also co-founded [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content