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IMDb's Technical Specs Not Technical Enough for You? Check Out the ShotOnWhat Database

Ever wondered what format, camera model, lens type, finishing format, lens manufacturer, etc. was used to create a certain film? You may have found yourself punching in IMDb as your default movie trivia database, and you may have found some or all such information in the film’s technical specs page — or you may not have. While IMDb has a lot of other coverage to keep itself occupied logging (particularly cast and crew lists), you may find yourself wanting a more detailed and dedicated technical breakdown — enter ‘ShotOnWhat?

With thanks to NFS reader maghoxfre for the tip-off, here’s an example of the type of details ShotOnWhat? is trying to compile, followed by a bit of the site’s mission statement:

Our goal at ShotOnWhat? is to create the largest collection of technical information that exists for Film & Television productions. If it has been seen on TV or shown in a theater, we would like to gather as much technical information as possible about the cameras, gear, post, sound, VFX and any other associated elements or processes, notes and trivia from the production. We are making the information searchable, cross referencing it a bit, and creating some trending to observe long term shifts in technology.


Great idea you say? Well, it can only happen with your help! It only takes a few moments to add your technical information to ShotOnWhat?.

We not only want to gather current productions from the digital age, but are seeking archive information on all productions: notably, all the classic films from the beginning of film-making. We want to preserve and make accessible this information. We hope that over time this repository of technical and equipment data will be useful for research and to students of the entertainment industry and it’s production history. But we will need vast amounts of data for this to be truly effective.

This is where you come in. In a sense, this project is similar to IMDb — though it attempts to be far more specialized — in that both contributors to projects can donate information directly from the source, or enthusiasts can add information from any sources they may find themselves. ShotOnWhat? is still in beta, and in a way, until its stores of information are full and complete it always will be — but it’s a great idea, something I would love to see grow extensively, and has a lot of potential as a resource for technical reference. This is really one of those ‘every little bit helps’ type of thing, so if you’d like to check it out or get started contributing, head over to ShotOnWhat? now.

Do you guys see yourselves making this a regular point of reference, or as a contributor? How well do you think adding technical details of older films will go?

Link: ShotOnWhat?

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We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 37 COMMENTS

  • Oh man, that’s a fantastic idea for a site!

  • This is just what I’ve been look for. The imdb tech specs section really leaves a lot to be desired for us tech people. Thanks Dave for this awesome find!

  • I often wonder when watching a movie that goes terribly bad, what equipment was used. Like mentioned before, I still see aliasing and terrible moire on low budget RedBox features that are shot on RED. I wonder why, but it has to do with the conforming process to DVD resolution and production, not the actual equipment because I know RED Epics rock!

    Take, “The Liquidator” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2072268/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 for example – a $3 million budget, has Vinnie Jones in it (for a few shots) and was in a foreign language. Of course, Redbox does not mention that it is a foreign film. Anyway, BTS shows Red Epics being used – I found that out because 20 min. into it, I thought “This HAS TO BE shot on a DSLR, and very badly at that!” stopped the movie and went to the BTS section!

    The aliasing and moire was TERRIBLE, moire in shirt fiber like the 5dmkII, every shot BLOWN OUT severely. Really bad skin tones, plasticy, not sharp.

    I won’t even mention – ok I will – Android Insurrection – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2385001/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 Again, Redbox has the audacity to have sub-par B movies in its selection. I called to get money back and they did say people were complaining about it.

    Ryan / Joe, you guys should do a breakdown on the CGI and cinematography of this movie about what NOT to do. Anyway, I was curious on the camera because it was seriously on AUTO- FOCUS! I kid you not, not rack focusing but AUTO-FOCUS. We’re talking about people’s feet not even touching CGI chips, smoke/dirt elements not rendered properly, smoke/bullets/fire FAILING to be done on every shot with gun props.

    CRAZY!

  • Site doesn’t work for me.

  • Site is dead

  • yes we crashed the site.

  • Thank your for the post. It is really appreciated and we look forward to building a great site with your help.

    Yes! You did crash the site. That is awesome that we have this great amount of visitors. We are currently working to bring the site back online.

    Thanx Everyone!
    James LaViola

  • Great idea, can’t wait when the site is running again ;)

  • How about microphones and sound recorders/mixers?

  • Thank you! We are back up and ‘hopefully’ we will be stable now…

  • Wonderful street stuff

  • Desmond Williams on 01.15.13 @ 7:41PM

    God Sent ;)

  • Dave,

    Great article and thanks for the acknowledgment. To be equally fair, I got this link from a facebook page I am subscribed to wich is on the link http://www.facebook.com/marvelsfilm?ref=stream.
    (I am not related to the site nor to the facebook page!)

    As for your last question, I see myself checking shotonwhat really often, as I did when I found out about it. It’s something I was always curious about and this resource looks very promising. First thing I did was to check what movies were done using the camera I own, and I think that is a great point of reference to consider (other than video tests) when buying or renting a camera because you can see how it performs on the big screen.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice to be able to see original aspect ratios…I never trust blu-rays. Speaking of which…lots of movies listed as 2.35:1. I thought it was switched to 2.39 or 2.40 back in the 70′s? no?

  • It’s a great idea but the site defaulted to a page saying that I needed Google Chrome, so I didn’t bother.

  • DIYFilmSchool.net on 01.16.13 @ 10:33AM

    This is a great idea. I love knowing what gear was used on productions, so I’d definitely check it out, though, based on Saied’s comment, if I need Chrome, I’ll wait a while for the site to adopt other browsers.

  • AMAZING idea, I am totally for this. I’d love to help out on a project like this, to thoroughly document exactly what equipment was used.

    • Please send a contact request though the site and we can discuss ways to get involved. Thank you all for your interest and kind words, it has been wonderful and overwhelming.

  • yes!!!! exactly what i’ve been looking for. I always end up going to imdb.com immediately after watching the movie to find out what camera was used. This will be very helpfull, thanks man for posting this. you deserve a cookie

  • Great concept for a site, but as soon as I open it that awful design makes me want to yank the power cord out of my computer as quickly as possible…

  • Best thing ever would be a mobile friendly site that I can browse while actually watching the movie.

  • Great idea…it will provide such a sampling for us.

  • Daniel Mimura on 01.22.13 @ 10:49PM

    At one point, I would’ve thought…wow…what a great idea for a site…I often wonder what they used…blah blah blah…

    …but we’re beyond that. Enjoy the damned movie as people have done for a hundred years now! Stop trying to quantify everything. If it looks good when you see it, that’s enough.

    And as mentioned, even with a good camera on set, if it’s on video, who’s to say what bitrate the encoding of the DVD or bluray or xbox live is? So that means that even that information is more meaningless to you. Ultimately, who cares? I never saw filmmakers of the film era counting grains of silver halide between slower stocks versus faster stocks. Yes, there are differences, and any cinematographer would think about those these differences…but beyond that it doesn’t matter what tool.

    It’s like if someone made a site dedicating to what brand of brush Mondrian used or if Degas used sable hair or camel hair brushes.

    Get over it.

    And also…when a film lists a multiple cameras, it doesn’t really tell you anything anyway. A film could be 99% shot on Red, but has a couple 5D crash cams, so then it lists both. What does that tell you? Nothing of any real substance. (I guess you could even take the quantification of everything even further and subdivide the cameras into what percentage each was used…but that’s just further illustrating my point.)

  • I’m very interested about what editing system has been used in movies, and I love that shotonwhat gives this info, too.
    How do they gather those kind of info?

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