March 5, 2014

Should the Oscar for Best Cinematography Be Split into Two Separate Categories?

OscarWe've talked quite a bit about online petitions lately. First it was Kentucker Audley satirically urging independent filmmakers to give up their dreams for the greater good of the film industry. Then, in the wake of the Sarah Jones tragedy, it was a petition to have her recognized during the "In Memoriam" segment at Sunday's Academy Awards. And now, fellow No Film Schoolers, we have another petition to unleash on you, a petition to split the Oscar for "Best Cinematography" into two separate categories. Read on to see what all of the fuss is about.

Traditional cinematography vs. computer-driven cinematography. This is the issue at hand. It's something that I have talked about extensively in a previous post, so I'll just do some paraphrasing of the arguments both for and against creating a distinction between the two.

In one sense, it’s an entirely technical matter. Films like Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography) were created in two vastly different ways, and therefore it isn't prudent to judge their images by the same standards. On the other hand, however, it can be argued that the method and technology don’t particularly matter as long as the images have the same effect on an audience. In the end, it's about utilizing the tools of cinematography (whether physical or digital) to tell the story.

Here are the trailers for those two films, in case you haven't seen them enough already.

Personally, I fall into the first camp, the one in favor of creating a distinction between traditional and virtual cinematography. And now that a heavily CGI-reliant film has taken home the Best Cinematography Oscar for 4 out of the past 5 years, the fine folks over at HowToFilmSchool do as well. In attempt to effect change in the industry and the way it views cinematography, they have created a petition which asks the Academy to split the Best Cinematography Oscar into two separate categories.

Here's what the petition says in full:

Too many times has a film which uses a large number of computer generated images won the award for Best Cinematography. As film making, cinematography and CGI continues to evolve, so should our appreciation and understanding of the various aspects of modern cinematography. 

In no way are we saying that the past winners are undeserving, but we strongly believe that proper credit is not being given where it is due. 

The award should be divided into conventional live action photography and another for CGI based photography in order to give cinematographers the recognition they deserve. 

We'll leave it up to the judgement of the Academy on criteria and how the awards should be divided, but we strongly believe that any film which uses a large number of green screen elements, composites and multiple CGI sequences should be in it's own category.

I have no doubt that the petition itself can reach the 5,000 needed signatures, especially with a little bit of love and sharing from you, dear NFS readers. However, what happens after this petition reaches the Academy is entirely up in the air.

The problem lies in the fact that many films rely on a combination of both traditional cinematography and digital compositing these days, which means that the Academy would have to draw a very distinct line between the two in order to create separate categories. How this would be accomplished is an interesting quandary because it would likely involve deriving a very specific percentage for each film based on the amount of digital assets that it contains. After that, the question becomes where the line between the two is drawn? Should films with higher than 50% be considered virtual cinematography, or 70% or 10%? No matter where the line exists, it is certainly going to be arbitrary in some way, which makes the process all that much more difficult.

Honestly, this is a complicated issue, and I have doubts that we'll see a distinction between traditional and virtual cinematography any time soon. However, if you'd like to see this issue make its way to the Academy for consideration, make sure you take 30 seconds to sign the petition. Who knows what might happen at next year's awards.

What do you guys think about this issue? Should the Academy split the award for Best Cinematography into two separate awards, one for traditional live-action cinematography and one for virtual cinematography? If there should be a split, what would be the ideal way to determine which category any given film should fall into, especially considering that many films combine both elements? Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!

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120 Comments

I've heard this argument all over Facebook from colleagues and former students of mine. I personally don't see what the difference is. Cinematography is cinematography, regardless of how it's achieved. It's not an Oscar for best practical lighting on set, it's for Cinematography. Tools are tools. Just because it wasn't all created in-camera on a set/location doesn't make it any less remarkable.

March 5, 2014 at 3:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob

I think as the original post suggests, its about giving credit where it is due. Beautiful images are beautiful images... but a cinematographer gets the Oscar for best cinematography, not the hundred of CG artist which helps create a CG frame...

There seems to be a blur at the moment which is a little easier to oversee in the realm of cinematography. There just needs to be a little more consistency, watching the BTS of Gravity, it is safe to assume that over 3/4 (probably more) is CG, the only reason it is even eligible for best cinematography is because we have a floating Sandra Bullock, and Clooney. Remove those two, and instantly those 'amazing images' are no longer eligible for this award and would fall somewhere into the realms of animation. Which means, live action photography is still the quintessence of cinematography!!

Splitting the categories seems a logical move, but there is already a best VFX category, and if anything, it is the VFX artist that create the images in these types of films which have been winning the best cinematography category in times of late.

In the end, in my opinion, the Academy has to redefine what is meant by cinematography if these 'CG heavy' films keep winning. No other category has this issue... when a half torn terminator face needs CG integrated elements to be blended with the actors face, we don't (well at least I don't) stop to think 'Mmmmm the make up artist did an amazing job', it was obviously a VFX thing, and VFX also gets the acknowledgement. So why the blur in cinematography...... :)

March 5, 2014 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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A

The gaffers, camera men, ect. aren't awarded the cinematography award either though...

March 5, 2014 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gabe

You're making the assumption that a Cinematographer only works on a set with a camera team and gaffer, and that all of the CG is being lit/composed by VFX artists of their own whim.

I think you're misinformed on how involved the Cinematographer is on this process.

March 5, 2014 at 4:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob

Life of Pi has two of the most incredible looking shots I've ever seen, however, they were almost if not entirely created in a computer. That is not what the traditional definition of Cinematography is and I believe some distinction is necessary. The tools are very different.

http://tinyurl.com/aglds6d
http://tinyurl.com/mx28hya

That's not to take away from the VFX work. It's just... different.

March 5, 2014 at 4:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

The effects of Gravity wouldn't have looked as good as they did without the effort and cinematography that initially went into to filming the scenes. On both movies, the cinematographer did the same thing, made sure that what was going into the camera was perfect for how the film would end up. Same job. The movies look different, yes, but the job is the same.

March 5, 2014 at 3:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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+1 Whether on a film set with gafers etc. or in a studio with lighting artists and compositors, at the head there is a cinematographer a single vision, just using different tools to the same effect. Today there's really no such thing as a film, even Inside Lewyn Davis, that doesn't digitally manipulate and composite to some degree, it's just less apparent (framestore did the vfx for both gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis). There is no line to draw.

March 5, 2014 at 4:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nate

I actually can't laugh enough to demonstrate how wrongheaded this is.
I don't think people realize that in the classic sense a DOP never touches the camera or the lights. Phillips Rousselot is one who still acts that way, and there are many others.
So explain to me the difference in Deakins requesting and adjusting virtual lenses and lights (as he did for Pixar) and real ones (as he did for Prisoners)? I can't see one.
These ideas are always pushed by people who have never worked a big CGI pic so don't realize how involved the DOP is.
There's a reason the Cinematography branch of the Academy keeps nominating these films. They know.

March 5, 2014 at 3:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

No animated movie has ever been nominated in this category, this says it all.

March 5, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jesper

If the award should be for technical merit, split them in two. If the award should be for the resulting art, keep it as one.

March 5, 2014 at 3:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anon

I'm in the "split them up" camp.

I admit it must take incredible effort to light a scene entirely composed on green screen that will match its final composited output. However, because the rest of the elements can be completely manipulated in post-production, it's of a different skill set than composing and lighting a shot in a natural environment or sound stage, using what is provided there, in the moment, with any limitations that exist.

It's like apples to oranges, as they say. They're both fruit, but different enough not be considered alike.

A (silly) example would be the difference between bowling in a bowling alley or bowling in space. It's the same game, but there are a lot less restrictions in zero gravity; which is fine, but now the games are different from each other and a good bowler on Earth may not wish to be compared to a good bowler in space.

March 5, 2014 at 3:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

This is only important if you give a damn about awards.

March 5, 2014 at 3:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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maghoxfr

If the award is split, the categories should be "Best Traditional Cinematography" and "Best Hybrid Cinematography." As much as people don't want to split them, there is a HUGE difference between someone who has actors to perform in a real place and captures them, and someone who takes five different elements: an actor on a green screen, a matte painting, an animated character, particle and lighting affects, and sticks them together.

I really doubt how much control most cinematographers have over these armies of CG animators anyway, and it really shows in most hybrid films today. When a shot jumps from two people talking to an action scene, the camera more often then not seems suddenly unhinged and in an entirely different set of filmmaking hands. The sensibilities change and I feel like I'm watching an entirely different film. Some examples: The Amazing Spider Man, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and any of the Transformers films. I'm not saying this approach to filmmaking isn't valid, and it often is gorgeous: Life of Pi, Hugo, Sky Captrain and The World of Tomorrow, but I really think there should be a differentiation when award season rolls around.

March 5, 2014 at 3:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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It's an interesting idea, but I personally think completely flawed and unworkable. As suggested in the article, the problem is where the line can be drawn between the two.
Some films are definitely all CG, some are without any CG whatsoever, but a huge number (perhaps the majority of mainstream films these days) occupy the vast and complicated spectrum between these two poles. I think any hypothetical demarcation would be highly contestable and unsatisfying.
Does a film which is 99% film cinematography, but featuring 5 CG/VFX shots shift it into the other category? What about 10 shots? If so, the DOP misses out on an Oscar for a massive amount of work for the sake of a few shots, and then the film is now judged in the other category according to the strength of just a handful of shots?
It doesn't make any sense ultimately, and I think is a wrong-headed approach to the subject/field of cinematography.

March 5, 2014 at 4:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Stanley Kinkersnick

Thanks for the share!
I have made some minor changes to the original petition that went up yesterday.
Remember, this is ultimately about creating a discussion on the subject. In no way do we wish to discredit any of the past winners, we just want to acknowledge the continuing evolution of cinematography and CGI.

March 5, 2014 at 4:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Have any of you seen the BTS of how they lit/shot Clooney and Bullock? That's exactly why it won the award.

March 5, 2014 at 4:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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bestdp4life

This is an interesting quandary. I don't know if it is about who gets the credit so much as it is about fairness.

Roger Deakins who is shooting a film practically has a lot of limitations. He can only afford so many lights. He can only move the camera so fast. He is constrained by space; he can't move his camera through physical objects. He can't put a light in a physically impossible spot. He can't zoom from a 14mm lens to a 600mm lens without changing lenses. He can't make an infinitely large softbox.

You can do all these things with virtual cinematography. Sure it still requires skill on the part of a cinematographer (or VFX artist as some might contend) to set up how the camera should move and how it should be framed and lit, but the fact that at the press of a button you can change one light into a bank of 10,000 lights digitally seems like it gives it an edge over practical cinematography that makes it hard to judge the two films against each other.

March 5, 2014 at 5:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

Your entire premise is flawed as Roger Deakins made conscious choices for radical post production modification on "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" He did things that he couldn't 'practically' do in camera. He knew what he wanted, and he used his colorist in order to achieve them.

He was nominated for an Oscar for his work on that film.

March 5, 2014 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob

But there is a difference isn't there between color correction and creating entire scenes in a computer? I wouldn't really put those two things in the same category.

March 6, 2014 at 2:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

Evan, you obviously have never created a scene in CG or have any idea of what it is like to try to make a CG light look as real as a practical light. I urge you to tell me which "secret" CG application has immediate CG lights that look and behave like real light at the touch of a button. If such program existed, why do you think that the lighting department credits have so many names at the end of CG features?

Also, when you "flip the switch" and turn one light into 10,000 as you say, your render times increase dramatically and most likely will cause a massive ripple effect on every department. To compensate for the increase in render time, all the textures would have to be scaled down in resolution. 3D models would also have to have less geometry. Please realize... simulated light in the computer does not react automatically like a real light does in the real world - artists make it so.

March 5, 2014 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

That's actually not strictly true these days...look up Arnold and Maxwell for example.

March 6, 2014 at 12:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gabe

Please GL! Tell me more about CG lighting! Are you a 3d artist? Perhaps you are, but I doubt it based on your comments that don't really have any basis in fact.

I am a 3d artist. I do lighting and rendering mostly. So I can tell you right now, you have no idea what you are talking about. That whole thing you are talking about models having to be simplified and textures shrunk...I've never even heard anyone propose such a ridiculous concept. You just completely pulled that out of nowhere. It's hilarious to hear someone who has no idea what they are talking about tell me about my job.

Besides all of the nonsense and talking out of your ass however, I think you miss my point. My point isn't that one is easier than the other. My point is that one is based in physical reality and the other is not bounded by those factors. Doesn't really seem fair to judge the two together.

If you have any other ridiculous things you want to tell me about CG lighting by all means tell me! The other CG artists in the office here got a good chuckle out of it.

March 6, 2014 at 2:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

Evan, you are a troll.

You say:
"My point is that one is based in physical reality and the other is not bounded by those factors". HAHA great "point", Evan.

Do you not consider processor power a "bounding physical reality"?? or how about access to programmers to write task-specific shaders? Low-budget-local-TV CG artists are bound to "physical realities" different from big-budget-film CG artists for instance.

Also, just because you call yourself a 3D artist doesn't make you one. If you have never heard of having to lower the resolution of models (# of triangles) or textures to decrease render times, then you have not worked on big-enough projects.

March 6, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

If you have to decrease your texture sizes and model poly-count every time you add a couple lights to your scene I suggest you talk to your IT team. Because it sounds like something is broken.

March 7, 2014 at 11:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

They got the Oscar for best VFX... how is that not a distinction?

March 5, 2014 at 5:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob

If the ASC and BSC don't feel compelled to have a separate award, or nominate animated films, why should the Oscars?

March 5, 2014 at 5:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rob

There should be THREE categories -
1) Pure animation
2) VFX of (take your pick) over 15/20/30 minutes
3) VFX of under 15/20/30 minutes.
.
With the CGI photo realism coming around at any moment, it'd make no sense to lump everything into one category.

March 5, 2014 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

You are making the assumption that there are no limitations with CG cinematography. Have you considered that in CG, you sometimes have to wait for hours to actually see a small change you make? Both processes have very challenging limitations. Ultimately, it comes down to the art of it and how a story is told visually.

March 5, 2014 at 5:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

Hours? You do realise this is 2014!?!

March 5, 2014 at 6:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Keith

Some of the frames in Gravity took 50 hours to render with 15,000 CPUs. How is that for 2014?

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26295937

March 5, 2014 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

Yeah and in 2014 unbiased renderers are becoming the norm because CPU power is less expensive than artist time.

March 6, 2014 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gabe

This reminds me of a similar discussion a while back about CGI-assisted acting. Many believed Andy Serkis should've been nominated for his work in LOTR: The Two Towers since so much of the character was from his own voice, body movement, and facial expressions. But at the same time there was a lot of that character's nuances that should also be attributed to the CG artists. It's definitely hard to determine where the line is but I for one feel some new categories need to be implemented across the board.

March 5, 2014 at 5:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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rcraig

True I guess, but I think its fair to say that they all work under a chain of command which follows the DP.
The cinematographer understands each and everyones role and probably worked in these roles before he was able to rise to the role of a cinematographer. Where as in the VFX scape, he relies on skilled technicians to fulfill an idea he has in mind? The cinematographer would be out of his depth in actually making it happen by pushing buttons on a computer screen... why does this matter?

Well a director also has a vision in his mind and he relies on a skill technician to fulfill his ideas, the cinematographer. You wouldn't give the credit to the director for giving some guidelines to his DP would you?

March 5, 2014 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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A

What technical stuff exactly though? Especially now with unbiased renderers, the tools to virtually light and shoot CG scenes are intentionally the same as those in real life, so you're selecting realistic focal lengths and light temperatures ect. Do you think the cinematographer knows all the tricks to rigging up lights, or all the specific settings on a new camera? The point of having a chain of command is so that the top level doesn't have to worry about inconsequential details and focus on the vision.

March 6, 2014 at 12:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gabe

I worked 19 years in the CG industry in Hawaii, Los Angeles, London, Vancouver and Montreal. I worked on more than 30 films, lots of them blockbusters. I NEVER, ever saw the DOP in any of the studios I worked at, including R&H. The CU supervisor usually calls the shots.

March 5, 2014 at 5:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert

Yes but isn't a Director directing scenes to be done by the VFX artist? The first real animation that made me take notice of the "cinematography" was in the animation, The Incrediables. I said wow they really nailed the way a camera moved. I thought what it would take to create some of the shots in live action and wow, they'd still be making the film. . I agree with Rob. Though the venue might have changed the principals still apply. When its all said and done Its still cinematography that moved each image to create the movement and give us the desired perspective.

March 5, 2014 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anthony Marino

Yeah but in the case of Gravity, Lubezki did interface directly with the artists.

March 6, 2014 at 10:09AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Grant

Following this reasoning, there should be two categories for directing too. CG-heavy Directing and Live-Action-Heavy Directing. This makes zero sense. Films don't get awards for how hard they were to produce.
I agree 100% with Rob. Ultimately, it's about the visual language of the film and how it fits the story, characters and tone of the movie.

It doesn't matter who Lubezki asks when he requests a stronger edge light on the actor - in live action, the gaffer gets his team to move a condor and in CG the lighting supervisor asks his team to adjust the inverse-square falloff on the CG lights behind the subject. It DOESN'T MATTER how the vision is executed, it's the VISION that gets the award. The main role of a DP is to help convey an emotion on screen that the viewer FEELS when she buys the movie on Netflix.

March 5, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

Would it be safe to say you believe animated films should be eligible for best cinematography? Jackson and Spielberg employed Kaminski as a lighting consultant on Tintin, and there were some pretty photorealistic scenes in that film.

March 5, 2014 at 6:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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A

If Citizen Kane had been created with CG characters and was 100% CG, would you say it deserved an award, or only if there was a CG category?

March 5, 2014 at 6:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

I wonder how many people know that there were separate Oscars for B&W Cinematography and Color Cinematography up until the late 1960's.

March 5, 2014 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christopher

I don't see why they should be separated. You forget the nominations are voted on by peers, that means that DP's voted for GRAVITY and LIFE OF PI and AVATAR. Then the fact that all 6500 voters of AMPAS voted, and the majority voters piked these movies. Basically the filmmakers choose and cinematography, since the times of Citizen Kane to Gravity has been about tricks. Someone mentioned that animated films have never been nominated, I'd say because they just haven't, however UP was nominated for Best Picture even if it was Nominated for Animated Picture. Why? Because peers decided it deserved it.

Also it would make a separate category for a niche art form, because almost all movies now, even Roger Deakins pictures rely heavily on CGI. However, there is precedent, back in the 30's/40's/50's/60's there was a separate Black and White award. But then we also have precedent for the fact that the award was created as a hold-back. Januz Kaminski won for Schindler's List, no one thought that he needed a special award then, mostly because the idea of color being different was old fashioned.

Last, people seem to take for granted the role of the Cinematographer who works on a CGI heavy picture and make assumptions. You know who doesn't make assumptions? Actual Cinematographers who voted for these pictures to be nominated. Already in the comments you get people who don't really understand how CGI works and talk about it like it was magic. It was very telling when Roger Ebert asked why Avatar won cinematography when it was all done by computer. The implication being that there are no limitations, that is just not true they are just different. Why don't we have separate awards for DP's who has a million dollar budget vs one who doesn't? Does Wally Pfister deserve his award less over Deakins for Inception? I mean, he did have a way bigger budget than the coens.

March 5, 2014 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Manuel

You nailed it, Manuel. In filmmaking there are no awards for "effort" or handicapped points for "budget limitations". All cinematography gets judged equally - on how the finished frame looks on the screen when shown to an audience. Nobody gives a flying rats' ass about your budget or the challenges you faced during production. Your film either stands out visually or it doesn't. The methods or techniques utilized are secondary to the emotional effect of the image on screen.

March 5, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

+1

March 5, 2014 at 9:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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nate

Unless you are shooting,editing and printing straight to film there is only one category - digital.
The art of cinematography has got nothing to do with real or CGI anyway

March 5, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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jmayo

This is so dumb. Unless you are going to insist that cinematographers are not allowed to color time / grade their pictures then what are you complaining about. All images are manipulated the oscar goes to the (as voted for) best cinematography and by that they mean the best image on the screen. There is no level playing field, you cannot have everyone with the same lights and camera package etc. Now should there be a technical oscar for best colorist? That's a given as far as I'm concerned when you have separate categories for sound editing etc...

March 5, 2014 at 6:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Keith

I think there should definitely be a separate award. I was thinking something similar when I saw Gravity win the award. Gravity should not have won because it was essentially an animated film. However I do not quite agree on having a distinction between camera driven visuals and vfx driven visuals. The VFX award already exists. The distinction I would make would be to exclude effects-heavy films from the Cinematography category and to add a category of, and this may sound pretentious, Best Mis En Scene. Mis En Scene is a french film term which translates to "visual theme" and in film it is a term applied to all the aspects that are involved in the visuals in a movie even down to how you dissect a single frame and the information within it. Under a Mis En Scene category any film deemed visually stunning enough, through any methods be they cinematography or VFX, could be nominated and the best would make their way to the academy awards.

March 5, 2014 at 6:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter P.

As an extension and as I am a strong advocate for celluloid, I have thought of making a distinction in awards for digital cinematography and film cinematography. There would be the challenge in the current market to find films shot on celluloid to be nominated but it would be possible for films shot on celluloid to be motivated to be made because of the award. Then again, where does it end? HD cinematography compared to 4K cinematography? Black and White vs. Colour again?

March 5, 2014 at 7:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Peter P.

Also to use Inside Llewin Davis as an example is stupid that was shot on film, but had such an extreme DI that I couldn't tell. So er comparing CGI lighting with computer enhanced lighting. Really makes sense...

March 5, 2014 at 6:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Keith

I think the main issue is that films with traditional cinematography can't compete with films that utilize stunning VFX. How can a film like Nebraska or Inside Llewyn Davis be expected to win best cinematography when a film such as Gravity comes along boasting amazing shots with characters backlit by the earth etc? They can't, it's an uneven playing surface and it is easier to create amazing shots in a computer than it is with a camera and a lens.

March 5, 2014 at 6:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Will

Will, again, it's not about an even playing field. If that was the case, how about the thousands of films with budgets a fraction of what Inside Llewyn Davis had? They don't look as polished as ILD because they didn't have the budget for HMIs and Condors. Or they have scenes out of focus because they didn't have the budget to hire a 1st AC...

March 5, 2014 at 7:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

"it is easier to create amazing shots in a computer than it is with a camera and a lens" This is utterly laughable. It is exceedingly clear that a person with an opinion like this one never even brushed up against animation or visual effects, and it really underscores a major issue that is prevalent among many of the pro-different-awards opinions on here: that somehow CG (please, people, stop calling it CGI, it makes you sound like you just watched a Toy Story DVD for the first time) is created by computers, or even aided by them. Here is a nugget of truth that those of you who have worked in CG will understand and those of you who have not need to grasp. The computer does not 'help' artists to make images in the way that you might think, It does NONE of the work for us. It is a tool that fights us every step of the way, painfully, heartbreakingly. Any pixel of any feature, short, or even video game that you have liked that has been derived from CG got that way because of the blood sweat and tears of the artists and technical directors that made it that way. For some reason, people have this concept of the computer making things easy. They could not be more wrong. Every single CG thing you saw in Gravity, every particle, every fleck, every amount of motion blur every chromatic aberration was put there painstakingly by creative people, working as hard as they could to eek out the frames that they did as the computers they used fought them tooth and nail. What's more, Gravity combined live action photography with CG, making the task of the director, DP and VFX leads even more impressive. There is no 'create Earth' button in Maya, XSI, Blender, 3DStudio Max or any other software package out there. There is a sphere button, yes, you know what you get when you push it? a nondescript sphere that looks like nothing at all. If you want texture, light, atmosphere, or motion, someone has to direct it, and others have to apply themselves and refine it. Another bit of information that many non-CG people do not realize about this question is that there are cameras, lenses, focal lengths, shutter angles, color temperatures, rigs... all to be chosen and employed to optimal effect in CG. A DP working in CG has to make all the same creative choices. Camera movement, lighting, focus... none of this stuff comes for free in CG, its all part of a highly creative process. People keep trying to draw a line between what live action DP's do and what those same people do on effects-heavy pictures. The fact is, it is a different set of tools but the SAME skill set. if the award is for skillful creation of image then it is the SAME award. If you don't know when to move a camera or why, it doesn't matter if you are working in CG or not. If you don't understand the way that manipulating focus will direct the audiences attention it doesn't matter whether you work in CG or not. I understand the allure of traditional photography, and the allure of protecting an award that recognizes it from an increasingly digital/effects heavy playing field, but the suggestion that the playing field is any different or let alone that it FAVORS one technique over another, will be looked back upon as a fallacy to be sure.

March 5, 2014 at 11:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Haven

Great counter argument and I'm saying this as pro-separatist of the awards.

I come from a CG and vfx background myself from the video game industry (Rock star, THQ). Working with Maya, 3d Studio Max and Unreal Engine 3, I can agree with the amount of skill and precision and creativity it takes to create and control 3d worlds. So I totally agree that many photographers need to to quit with the notion of CG graphics being automated and easy in comparison to doing it in reality.

And again I'm actually a supporter of separating the awards and I can agree to this.

March 6, 2014 at 1:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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My point was that it is easier for the CINEMATOGRAPHER to create amazing shots with the help of VFX then it is with practical effects, I'm not naive enough to think that somehow an image is magically created inside a computer. Obviously painstaking hours are put in by compositors and various other artists to create these shots but it isn't the DP who slaves away at it, it's the VFX studio and it's the easier go-to option for the cinematographer. Not that this takes anything away from the DPs work, that wasn't my point.

March 6, 2014 at 1:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Will

And GL, using visual effects allows you to do things that you would be unable to do in-camera whereas cinematographers working on a lower budget film can still create stunning images, they may just have to work a bit harder to do so. Comparing the use of VFX against practical cinematography to low budget vs big budget doesn't really make sense.

March 6, 2014 at 4:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Will

Will, what makes no sense is your argument about wanting an "even playing surface". An image on screen is an image on screen.

An amazing collection of shots is an amazing collection of shots.

It doesn't matter if it came from CG-enhanced live action, 100% CG, high-budget live action with no CG or no-budget live action without a , etc. The point is that in the Academy Awards there is NO LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. It is the highest-budget films with the biggest actors and top music composers competing with one another. A level-playing field is NOT the argument. The main issue for me is whether live action DPs are taking the credit for something they had no control over.

March 6, 2014 at 8:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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GL

I think there should be a separate category, but for films that feature both, why not have them nominated for both, should the work be excellent on both fronts. For instance, if a film like The Hobbit has excellent traditional cinematography, it should be nominated for that category. However, if it also has excellent all-CG cinematography, it should be nominated for that as well. It doesn't have to be quite like the screenplay category, where it can only be nominated for one of the two.

March 5, 2014 at 7:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Geoffrey

I'm from Germany and here the category "Best cinematography" is translated as "Best camera". And I think that is what it is supposed to be. The main focus should be on traditional creation of a picture with a camera. I mean CGI even has it's own category "Best special effects"!
I can understand the objection that actually the work of the DP is the same. He is the one imagining and planning the visuals of any movie and how it is done doesn't matter. BUT if we don't draw a line between traditionally shot movies and CGI movies almost exclusively shot in front of green/blue-screens, how can we draw the line between those movies and animated movies? Even animated movies nowadays use real actors for facial features, motion capturing etc. So why is there a category for "Best animated feature"? And why are those movies not nominated for a best cinematography award? Where is the difference between a movie that uses 100% CGI and has only "invisible" actors and one that has only the actors faces in a completely CGI generated world (Gravity)? Seriously, for me there is none.

March 5, 2014 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian

Exactly.

March 5, 2014 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr.Floppy

There is an interesting political angle to consider here with academy membership. Since members are drawn from nominees, and there are 4 times as many acting awards as any other category (male, female, supporting and leading), actors make a majority of voting members. This is why actors who become directors (Eastwood, Redford and yes, even Mel Gibson) do very well at the oscars. It also explains why Cinematographers who are unpopular with actors tend not to win academy awards - Gordon Willis, one of the most influential DPs of all time, didn't even manage a nomination and had to make do with an honorary one long after he retired.

March 5, 2014 at 8:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Rubidium

No, I agree they are different but there will never be a clear way to draw the line.

March 5, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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carlos

For me the real question or debate is: Should the award be shared among the DOP and vfx supervisor? I know in some cases the DOP doesn't follow up with post production. On Gravity Lubesky was active in post However on Life of Pi Claudio Miranda wasn't not so much, in that case it should have been shared, but instead Claudio Miranda didn't even thank the vfx crew, so he basically got an Oscar for filming that boy in an ugly swimming pool.
http://static3.businessinsider.com/image/512d35e969bedda53d000001-650-83...

March 5, 2014 at 8:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Marcus

And a lot of that was prepared by the storyboard artists too.

March 5, 2014 at 11:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Not to mention the previs guys who spent 3 years on the project planning out the shots in 3D for both the physical crews and the vfx teams.

March 6, 2014 at 2:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dan

It shouldn't be shared with viz effects b/c the category he won for is Best Cinematography, not best CGI! I don't think he should have won, and not ergo nixing the difference is why he won in the first place. He did great work in Oblivion, but yeah, on Life of Pi, he lit a swimming pool and green backdrop. And made a blurry smeary mess, making a beautiful Alexa look like 70's era video by shooting with a greater than 180° shutter. It was painful to watch that one win.

March 8, 2014 at 4:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

I think Jame's Cameron's argument on digital vs film from Keanu Reeve's documentary "Side By Side". applies here.

Keanu Reeves: You're presenting a complete unreality and making them feel like it's real, whereas, before, it was captured in reality--

James Cameron: All right, you've—I'm betting you've been on a couple of movie sets. When was it ever real? There was a kind of a wall there and nothing over there. There was 30 people standing around. There was a guy with a boom mic. There's another guy up on a ladder with his ass crack hangin' out. There's fake rain. Your "street night exterior New York" was a day interior Burbank. What was ever real?

March 5, 2014 at 8:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dan

"Not recognizing", not "ergo nixing".

March 8, 2014 at 4:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Oops...that tyypo correction was a comment meant for the thread above this one. My comment for this thread is that, yeah, maybe it was never "real", but one looks "real", and one looks like a video game!

March 8, 2014 at 4:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

While we are on the subject, I think that we also need to break out a category for voice acting. No matter how much motion caption James Cameron and others do, when you change the size and shape of eyes, the dimensions of the nose and nostrils, the structure of the teeth and jaw linen you are fundamentally changing the face. The main tool of an actor. It is not the same performance that they gave on set. Andy Serkis is amazing at what he does, but it's fundamentally different than what Mathew McConaughey does, or what Mel Blanc did.

March 5, 2014 at 9:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sam

Whoa hold on there, no actor's performance in a movie is the same as it was on set because of editing. If you want a "pure" performance, I suggest you switch to theatre.

March 7, 2014 at 3:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gabe

Maybe Mel Blanc wasn't a good example b/c Serkis is doing more than Mel Blanc...he's the voice talent of Gollum. He may be doing less than McC-, but he's doing *more* than Blanc.

March 8, 2014 at 4:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

I'm down with the "it only matters if you give a damn about awards" logic. When I watch the academy awards, I go into it almost like it was a political race, which it kind of is (except the fate of the country doesn't hang in the balance, thankfully). Every year, I have a few indies lingering in the back of my head that I thought were great but didn't even get nominated, just like good politicians often get left behind in the dust because they are not willing to "play politics." So I won't say that the Oscars or other big award shows are meaningless, but I don't think you can ever really say that one was better than all the rest when there are so many different types of films and so many different tastes out there. The Oscars mean a lot more to the business of filmmaking than the art of filmmaking.

That said, if I had to take a side, then I would like to see two different categories for cinematography. The problem is that the whole process of dividing it into two would become politicized just like always and the line between the categories would undoubtedly be an arbitrary one. So we might end up right back where we started.

March 6, 2014 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Arendee

You're deffinitely more elocuent than I am. I agree with what you said.

It'd be awesome if the same conematographer won the two categories for two different films. Or even greater if he/she won for the same movie.

March 6, 2014 at 1:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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maghoxfr

Would you guy consider giving a Pixar film such as Toy Story or Up the Oscar for best Cinematography? Probably not because most people consider it an animated film. Well guess what? The ONLY difference between Toy Story and Gravity is that the latter composited in two humans. BOTH of the films were far and away, an ANIMATED feature except one was stylized and the other photo realistic. So if you wouldn’t give Toy Story an Oscar for best cinematography, then you probably shouldn’t for Gravity either since they’re about 90% the same thing, except one had an extra element of compositing.

I also probably have a different perspective than most because I’ve done extensive amounts of CG camera work as well as a good bit of live action. Here’s my MoGraph reel where I did most of the design work and ALL of the camera, compositing and animation work.

CG reel:

http://www.builtbyugene.com/html_pages/html_index/index_reelmograph.html

Some of the projects I directed and some of them another person directed and I just did the CG camera and animation. Did the director have that much say over how I operated the camera? NO, very little in fact. In CG, you usually do a number of camera moves / angles and you show it to the director who then pick one out of say… ten options. Basically, the director is simply picking what the CG camera operator gives them, especially since often the Director has very little technically knowledge and cannot run the animation, so they are essentially at the mercy of the animator.

About 5 years ago, I got sick of CG, so I started doing live action DP work and in the last year I’ve finally had a good break getting to DP bigger jobs for people like Disney, SyFy, HGTV, WEtv and Bravo.

Here’s my Live Action reel:

http://www.builtbyugene.com/html_pages/html_index/index_reelliveaction.html

Is there a difference between my CG camera work and my Live Action camera work? Yes, a HUGE difference. With live action work as Director of Photography, for myself at least, I am much more in control of the shots because I usually set them up and I direct the grip and electric and we function with the Director as a tight unit in that we are making the shots as a unit and as we go along. There is very tight synthesis between the crew.

In CG, as I stated before, the Director of the project is often at your mercy since they often don’t have the technical knowledge to operate, so it’s basically I come up with a series of options, we preview them all in a wire-frame render, then they pick one. MUCH DIFFERENT than the live action process. CG is very, very complex compared to live action camera work; so the “DP” unless they are well versed in CG, they have much less control over the process.

So yeah, personally as someone who has done a lot of CG and Live Action camera work, while they do have similarities, they are very different overall. Live Action, the DP has much more say over the final product than CG, so I am going to fall into the separate Oscar camp.

March 6, 2014 at 1:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene Sung

Perfect reply. Similar background here and I also agree DPs should study 3D graphics at a base level to understand the tools. Learning to translate them to what they know and do in reality.

Very few that I know of can understand both sides.

March 6, 2014 at 2:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is a well thought out reply. Thanks Gene for bringing a little civility into the conversation. You make some really good points.

I would say that different DPs would have different amounts of interest and involvement with the cg lighting and camera work (I do a lot of CG work and practical cinematography as well). On Tron Legacy for instance it was just as you said it was. The director basically looked at a bunch of camera moves the CG artists came up with and said "I like this one". But on other films I think they might have much more involvement.

I don't know much about Lubezki's involvement so I simply can't judge. But I will say, looking at some of his other work, he obviously knows how to shoot/light a great looking scene. I wonder how HE feels about it. I wonder if he feels the award is cheapened because so many people think he didn't deserve it.

March 6, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

I think Chivo is the exception here. He was uniformly present at every stage of the image creation process for Gravity, and ultimately, his unique cinematic approach is what made it to the screen. There's really not much doubt in anyone's mind that the dude deserved the award. The same can't be said for other cinematographers though (I'm looking at you, Claudio Miranda), whose involvement in the visual post-production of a heavily CG-reliant film like Life of Pi was negligible.

March 6, 2014 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4136

I'm not disputing what you're saying but can you point me towards an article(s) that talks about these gentlemen and their involvement with the post-production and VFX of these movies?

I'd be interested to read more about how they were involved. I've read the cinefex article on Gravity (I don't rememeber Life of Pi's article) it but neither of them talks too much about the DPs involvement unfortunately.

Lubezki is amazing! I thought Tree of Life was one of the most beautiful films I've seen in years.

March 6, 2014 at 5:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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evan

Nice to see Lubezki finally win (The New World is one of the best looking films ever made and he should've won for that), but it's an absolute joke that Inside Llewyn Davis or Prisoners didn't win for Best Cinematography. This is the 5th year in a row that the winner shot a film that was heavily reliant on vfx. There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of Academy members when it comes to the responsibility of a DP on a vfx heavy film. Claudio Miranda is a very good DP, but he was more like a glorified Camera Op on Life of Pi. How can you compare his work to what Deakins did on Skyfall or what Rob Richardson did on Django. They are totally different jobs and should absolutely be separate categories.

March 6, 2014 at 1:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Justin

Would Gravity have been nominated if it had been 100% cgi and only had used the actor setup for references?

March 6, 2014 at 4:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jesper

How can one sign a petition to the most famous and 'pretigious' film awards organisation, with an unacceptable grammar mistake ("it's" in the last line), and expect that organisation to take the petition seriously?

March 6, 2014 at 5:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hit

Fixed. Thanks!

March 6, 2014 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Keep dreaming

March 6, 2014 at 5:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

Academy awards is just one big show and bussines based on extremely biased judging from very old people /no disrespect here/ so anybody expecting anything more or even some improvement in quality of nominations and results is total fool. :)

Its like Roman empire, you can change it you can only destroy it. Scrap it and make another award which is only about quality and let the Oscars live their showbiz life full of gold and glitters.

March 6, 2014 at 7:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kuk

you cant change

March 6, 2014 at 7:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kuk

#Neverwonanoscar #neverwill

March 6, 2014 at 6:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Imakuberick

No. This is ridiculous. If I have a CGI scene, I have to consider color schemes, look, camera angles, focal length, and lighting techniques just the same way I would a live action scene. Cinematography isn't a practical/physical thing, but the application of photography principles to achieve a particular look. DP's in animated films are EVERY BIT as much of a cinematographer as one in a live action set.

That's like the Grammys separating albums by analog or digital recording/mix. They should be judged by results, not the tools used to get to them.

March 6, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave N.

Roger Deakin's Rango is a perfect example. Stunning cinematography in an animated film that came from Deakin's expertise.

March 6, 2014 at 11:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Dave N.

Roger Deakins role in Rango was rightfully called 'visual consultant', he is not even mentioned in the credits...

March 7, 2014 at 2:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Raul

Then how about his work in WALL-E?? Work that changed 3D animation permanently by the way.
This entire argument is specious and the level of debate infuriatingly ill-informed.

March 7, 2014 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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marklondon

Well, the Grammys do have a separate category for rock and another one for metal ... which is largely the difference in the fuzz/distortion channel tuning. Is it at 5 or does it go all the way to 11? And, if they narrow the differences down that minutely- Led Zeppelin was nominated in the "rock" category for "Kashmir" - I see nothing wrong with distinguishing CGI based films from the mostly live action ones. This doesn't mean that the cinematographer had no role in the CGI process, but that others played roles that were just as important and that includes the storyboard artists, the previs department and the VFX folks too.
.
PS. How many recall Jethro Tull winning the best "metal" album in 1989? Over Metallica, no less.

March 6, 2014 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Well rock and metal are considered different subgenres, CGI is just a tool in moviemaking and is related with cinematography as it is with directing, makeup, fx, etc; if any award should be splited because of CGI is best picture, like the academy did with animation.
But if all of you think that is intelligent to split cinematography award into the way movies were created, you should also divide into this categories:
35mm, 70mm, 16mm, 8mm, Digital 1/3, Digital 2/3, Digital 4/3, Digital s35, Digital Full Frame, CMOS, CCD, Black and White, Color, Eastman, Fuji, Agfa, handheld, dolly, tripod, crane, etc, etc, etc.

March 6, 2014 at 7:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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A. G.

Solid points from both of you.

March 6, 2014 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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funkydmunky

Three of you ;)

March 6, 2014 at 10:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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funkydmunky

There always used to be separate color and b/w categories of cinematography in the era where those two separate categories were relevant, and now there is clearly a relevance to separating out cinematography done by collecting light onto a film plane or sensor plane vs virtual cinematography so those separate categories seem important in this day and age. I don't think, in current times with current filmmaking trends and practices, the other categories mean enough subdivide it. (Agfa doesn't make film, 8mm isn't still manufactured ...etc...)

March 8, 2014 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

Also I think a lot of noobs that don't know how much work goes into making CG look good will say "hey they don't have to set up lights, so there isn't as much skill involved". But I definitely agree with you

March 6, 2014 at 6:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Imakuberick

CG is just a tool, as well as camera, physical lighting etc.

March 6, 2014 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mon

Exactly, tools are tools people. Camera, physical lighting, cg etc are all tools...Whatever tool you use, the main aim is to tell stories, for making a great movie.

PS : without CG, Alfonso has to bring the whole crew member into space for this stunning super physically and visually real scenes in space.which may i say , is unachievable.Thanks to the CG, we are lucky to be able to watch such an amazing and inspiring film.

March 6, 2014 at 11:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mon

I have a love hate relationship with this. One of the most crucial elements of CG is lighting. The more realistic the lighting is... the better textures and shaders take hold, and react similar to how things look in the real world. I do have all the respect in the world for Claudio Miranda from Life of Pi, and Emmanuel Lubezki for Gravity. It was their incredible understanding of light that made everything come together properly, with the help of some very established VFX supervisors.

This is a tough one to say as the digital world is quickly merging with the real world. But having this extra category in the Oscars would only benefit everyone.

But would people still be allowed to qualify for both categories?

March 6, 2014 at 12:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is stupid. The distinction needs to be between 2D and 3D cinematography. CGI is a visual tool that has been in use for decades now. It's only in the past few years that the (computer based) technology has been possible for 3D cinematography to step outside the bounds of 2D possibilities. All of the "CGI-driven" cinematography winners were 3D releases. The Oscar for Cinematography needs to be separated between 2D and 3D, not CGI vs. traditional photography.

March 6, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ben Gates

Many years ago, color cinematography was made separate from b&w, because color had reached a point where it had demonstrated cinematographic possibilities wholly different from those of black and white. The case is identical for the relationship between 2D and 3D.

March 6, 2014 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ben Gates

The level of ignorance you obviously demonstrate is remarkable.Your statement clearly shows that you have absolutely no sophisticated inside knowledge about digital lighting and how cg artist create the final shots for a movie. Claudio Miranda (and now Lubezki) is a SHAME for all cinematographers in the world for accepting the oscar, which he clearly did not deserve.
The background plates that he shot for Life of Pie consist of a boy in a blue screen pool with a bag full of sand (the replacement for the cg tiger). All the artistic lighting, compositing, the cg tiger, the mood of the scenery were created by the hard working cg artist, who went bankrupt afterwards (Rhythm & Hues). Even the framing was changed later in the process of finalizing the shots.
So he won the Oscar because those old senile members of the Academy know nothing about cg integrations let alone that 90% of the shots were composed by other people. It just makes me mad when people praise such a guy (Miranda) because they just see the final images in the movie and the think that those cg artist just made a mere color correction. All he did was shooting stupid blue screen background plates UNDER THE SUPERVISION of the CG Supervisor in order to accomplish a seamless integration of cg and real life background plate.
He was not involved in the process of finalizing the shot, check out various youtube-interviews with Miranda. He clearly admits how surprised he was when he saw the final shots.

"So explain to me the difference in Deakins requesting and adjusting virtual lenses and lights (as he did for Pixar) and real ones (as he did for Prisoners)? I can’t see one."

Ever head of Lighting & Shading? These two go hand in hand because to tweak let's say a metal or chrome shader you must have detailed knowledge of how the shader works and how light reacts to the surface. And I don't want to start about writing shaders. You cannot light properly without knowing the shaders inside out.

The cg artists after spending months on researching, writing shaders (the suit shader for Iron man (The Avengers - 2012) consists of 5000 lines of Renderman code), painting 8k and 16k textures, lighting the scene with 200 area lights (like in the dock scene in Iron Man 3, check out fxguide.com) and maybe Nuke relighting in the process of compositing, SURELY DON'T NEED a Lubezki or a Miranda to adjust 5 stupid parameters (focal lengths, shutter angles, color temperatures,... ) in the VRay or Arnold PhysicalCamera option menu.

March 6, 2014 at 12:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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FrederikO.

I agree 100% on Life of Pi, but I felt that Gravity was the first CGI heavy film that deserved an Oscar...but fot the right reasons, not the wrong ones like Life of Pi. By lighting Bullock in an interactive cube (and not physically making her rotate around spinning super fast sometimes and moving the brightness levels and colors of the parts of frame that would be the moon and the earth and space (or the moon or sun or earth reflected onto the side of the spaceship...& every other iteration) made a seamless integration with the visual effects. Besides being groundbreaking (essentially filming the talent much like filming spaceships in the modern era---2001 on through the Star Wars movies where the spaceship stays still and they move the camera instead---as opposed to Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, & Plan 9 from Outer Space where the camera is locked off and they dangle a model (or paper plate!) in there frame and drag it by, in addition to moving chase lights (where you can't physically spin the actors around enough so you move the lights)...make it an incredible achievement.

March 8, 2014 at 3:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

There should definitely be a separation of the two. That way animated films can also be recognized for their cinematography.

March 6, 2014 at 2:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jake

This post again?

No, cinematography is cinematography. It's not based on the tool used to achieve the expression. God if this carries on sites like this will eventually ask for a Videography award furth establishing that bullshit term.

March 6, 2014 at 3:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I get the idea behind what you're saying, but I think it missing a key distinction... Everyone is going to have their own definition, so if people don't agree on terms, everyone will just argue in circles all day. I think that light that is collected through a lens and focused onto a film plane or sensor plane is cinematography and light moved around with a mouse on a computer is not cinematography...it's a simulacrum of cinematography, it's virtual or fake cinematography. We have a separate category for animated film, which seems to recognize a difference between something that has been captured and is "real" vs something that is imagined or thought up. People have almost always made a distinction between photography and painting. Edward Weston and Pablo Picasso were both artists and one was predominately a painter and the other was predominantly a photographer, and most of the world was been happy making a distinction between painters and photographers. The Oscars® have a separate category for visual effects than cinematography, so under your definition visual effects and cinematography might be one and the same if you want to dismiss it by saying, "cinematography is cinematography."

March 8, 2014 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

On the topic of dividing awards, I would much rather see an "Independent Academy Awards"

...where only the films with a budget of 20 million or less are considered, there's no distinction between foreign or domestic. An award with a focus on promoting the art of film (as opposed to the art of inflated budgets and overworn celebrities).

March 6, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Matthew

Hear, hear.

March 11, 2014 at 10:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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