And the Emmy Goes To…
In October 2012, when the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nominated the Zacuto production Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout 2012 and its production team: Scott Lynch, Steve Weiss, Jens Bogehegn, and Daniel Skubal for an Emmy, the Zacuto family crossed fingers and held its collective breath. On November 18, in Chicago’s magnificent Alhambra Palace, the winners for Outstanding Achievement in the area of Interview/Discussion Programming was announced. Fingers were uncrossed and everyone exhaled. ZACUTO WON!
How It All Began
In February 2012, Zacuto brought acclaimed cinematographer Bruce Logan ASC (2001 A Space Odyssey, Tron, Star Wars) to the soundstage at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy in Chicago to act as the test administrator for the shootout portion of the Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout 2012.
Bruce issued a challenge to some of the world’s top cinematographers for their particular camera of choice to see how good they could make their individual cameras look while all shooting the same scene — a party scene in this case. They were allowed to alter Bruce’s base lighting to suit their tastes and chosen cameras. Concurrently, Bruce conducted a benchmark test with no lighting alterations. Cameras included the Panasonic GH2, Cannon 7D, Sony FS-100, Canon C300, Sony F3, Red Epic, Arri Alexa, Sony F65, and the iPhone 4S – yes, you read that right, the iPhone 4S.
Bruce Logan ASC
The test footage was screened blind (not knowing which camera is which) all over the world in NY, Chicago, LA, Skywalker Ranch, London, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, India, Canada and the viewers responses were recorded. Even Francis Ford Coppola chimed in with his opinion at the SkyWalker ranch screening. A majority of viewers had a hard time seeing huge differences between most of the cameras.
Watch the Final Episode of the Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout 2012
The purpose of the experiment was to answer a critical question for the film industry: “With the latest camera technology, is it the equipment or the skill and experience of the DP and their knowledge of their camera and post process that make for a great image?” Logan comments in the film, “this will probably be the final shootout because many of these cameras are good enough to shoot a film”.
Weiss, Director of the Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout conducted interviews with some of the most notable cinematographers in the industry including legends like Haskell Wexler ASC, Janusz Kaminski, Victor Kemper ASC, Stephen Goldblatt ASC/BSC, Rodney Charters ASC/CSC, Isidore Mankofsky ASC, Peter James ASC/ACS, Steven Fierberg ASC, Richard Crudo ASC, Francis Kenny ASC, Daryn Okada ASC, Bob Primes ASC, Stephen Lighthill ASC, Nancy Schreiber ASC, Michael Negrin ASC and so many more.
The focus of the revenge was addressing questions such as: What is a cinematographer? Is talent born or made? What do you need to do to become a great cinematographer? How can we learn from failure? Why do we make films? And, with tight budgets concerns would you rather sacrifice good equipment for better people? They brought a whole new dynamic to the documentary by explaining to the viewer how the importance of being a cinematographer goes so much farther than creating a beautiful image.
The Road to Winning
In 2010, Zacuto submitted two entries: Filmfellas: Cast 7 – Masters of Non-Fiction and The Great Camera Shootout 2010 – a web series that pitted digital cameras in a face-off with traditional 35mm film. Both were the only web-based series in competition. The Great Camera Shootout 2010 beat out the competition and won the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in a Program.
On November 6, 2011, after 40 episodes and eight different casts, Filmfellas took home the Emmy in the category of Outstanding Achievement for Interview/Discussion Programming. In his acceptance speech Producer/Director Steve Weiss told indie filmmakers all over the world that “…web TV is here, and this Emmy is here to prove it.”
Which brings us to 2012, Zacuto was also nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Programs bts: Chasing the Light, a film that shows the problems documentary filmmakers face shooting over long periods of time in a hostile environment. Steve Weiss and Daniel Skubal were both nominated for Directing and Editing awards. Both films are a testament to the coming of age of web filmmaking; and to the skill and determination of those who create web programs and find ways to monetize them.
Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout is a Zacuto films and Kessler Crane production
in association with Tribeca Flashpoint Academy and Filmworkers Club Chicago.