Out of all the films presented to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ for the 2013 Oscars, the top 8 nominated for this year’s Best Picture Award all have something in common – they all used ARRI cinematic cameras.
American Hustle – ARRI Film
Captain Phillips – Array of ARRI and other digital & film cameras
The Wolf of Wall Street – ARRI digital & film, Canon C500
12 Years a Slave – ARRI Film
Nebraska – ARRI Digital
Her – ARRI Digital, Canon C300
Philomena – ARRI Alexa
Dallas Buyers Club – ARRI Alexa
via SetLife Magazine
ARRI has a very large reputation in the filmmaking world, mainly in major studio work for scripted television, commercials, and the big screen. From their Arricam series to their famous Alexa models, they continue to build systems that are rock-solid in performance and stability.
What’s interesting is that RED cameras are nowhere to be found on this list, and the same is even true on the Best Cinematography category.
What does this mean for RED, whose ultra-HD cameras have steadily gained popularity over the past five years?
One of the main complaints from filmmakers about the RED system is that it always seemed to be designed by engineers, rather than cinematographers. Many of its criticisms, however, have been resolved by newer models, such as RED’s Epic and now the Dragon sensor, capable of an impressive 16-stop dynamic range.
From a user-experience perspective, most if not all of the controls and visual data are built directly onto ARRI camears, unlike RED’s heavily-modular system that requires many extra parts necessary for a full kit. Personally, I believe the menus on the Alexa, for example, are much more straight forward to navigate through, and mapped so that cinematographers can create the look they want more efficiently. And even from a sound department’s standpoint, ARRI cameras are much quieter and provide audio & timecode inputs that are much easier to access in a high-paced studio environment.
Does this mean that RED is still not entirely ready for the big leagues? 2012 was also RED-less, despite the sudden spike in 3D popularity. There are still many major releases "shot on RED", and a multitude of independent projects across the globe use them, but will they ever be utilized on an Oscar-worthy production?
From what it looks like, this year’s Oscar for most trusted cinema camera platform goes to… ARRI.