[ Digital cinema, democratization, and other trends remaking the movies ]

AD: Fans, Friends & Followers

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's Unique About the 2009 Oscar Noms?

We've had a CG-animated film win an Oscar ('Toy Story' won a special award in 1995, and 'Shrek' won in 2001, when the Best Animated Feature Film category was created.)

We've had a digitally-edited film win an Oscar ('The English Patient,' in 1996, was edited using an Avid, as was 'Titanic' in 1997.)

We've had lots of Best Visual Effects winners that have relied on computers.

But what have we never had, so far? A Best Cinematography winner -- or even a nominee -- that was shot using a digital camera.

Until this morning, that is, when 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' showed up on the list of nominees.

If it wins, what a milestone for all the cinematographers and techies who've helped test and improve digital cameras over the past decade. (And what a kick-in-the-teeth tipping point for our friends at Kodak, which is still running magazine ads about how much better film is than digital.)

Here's a piece from Film & Video about cinematographer Claudio Miranda's use of the Viper digital camera, from Thomson Grass Valley. (This piece offers even more.)

Update: Mike Phillips points out, in the comments and via e-mail, that perhaps as much as 80 percent of 'Slumdog Millionaire' was shot with the SI-2K digital camera from Silicon Imaging. says it was used on more than half of the film. Ben Cain of HD Cinema has some criticism of the results.

What do you think? Is it as big a deal if 'Slumdog,' a film/digital hybrid, wins?

Labels: , , , , ,


  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger andyb, at 3:56 PM  

  • I've been wanting to see this movie for some time now. I didn't realize that it was shot using a digital camera.

    Cinematography has come a long way from its initial inseption to the digital filmmaking we see today. It will definitely be interesting to see who wins.

    By Blogger TAL, at 5:00 PM  

  • I saw the preview screening and didn't realize that it was shot digitally (I'm not clear what exactly HD means in this context). Still, for a film with so much CGI, the acquisition format hardly seems relevant at this point.

    Interesting comment from Variety though:
    "a case, however speculative, could be made that a story such as "Benjamin Button," with its desired cumulative emotional impact, should be shot and screened on film to be fully realized."

    Maybe Kodak buys a lot of ads.

    By Blogger Sean Fitzroy, at 6:53 PM  

  • Not sure why any swipes at Kodak are needed.

    There are a lot of legitimate reasons to choose film as your acquisition format, and it'll remain a great option for filmmakers for years to come.

    While it's possible to do great digital work, there's a ton of stuff shot on digital that looks like crap -- rush jobs done with a lack of knowledge and respect for the art and craft that is cinematography/filmmaking.

    By Blogger andyb, at 7:18 PM  

  • Hi Scott -

    Good point! One might actually count Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography nomination for "Slumdog Millionaire" as well into this unique aspect of this year's nominations - as that film was partly shot on another high end digital camera; the SI.

    By Blogger Karsten, at 8:14 PM  

  • Scott,

    i think there is another uniqueness.

    Brad Pitt was nominated for best actor.

    the uniqueness is in the fact that for almost an hour he's not there. His face is a completely animated digital character.

    Andy Serkis was refused the nomination for Gollum a few years back for exactly this reason.

    I loved this movie, and i think they solidly planted a flag on the other side of the uncanny valley, so i'd love to see them awarded for that, but this definitely is a novelty for the academy bunch.

    By Blogger Seba, at 9:49 PM  

  • Don't forget that the majority of Slumdog Millionaire was also shot digitally using the SI 2K MINI camera. So 2 out of the 5. Slumdog used the small form factor of the 2K MINI to get shots easily in the crowded streets not possible with a bigger camera.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home