Bond no Match For Motion Control
Motion Control Operator Ben Goldschmied from Motion Control Cameras Ltd. recently did a MILO shoot with James Bond (Daniel Craig) that tested him to his limits. Here’s what he had to say about it:
THE MILO ON SET
“Motion Control Cameras were approached to film this commercial with a short brief that it was a simple move – a track and zoom out from Daniel Craig followed by a track and zoom in … oh and a couple of effects to be triggered as well.
“As preproduction progressed small details were added…. ‘Actually we need 32 effects triggers… Some of the explosions will be too big to do for real, (unless we blow the walls of the studio out as well) so we want to shoot on a 1/3 scale of the set for those… Speed ramping would be good to slow his reaction to being shot and being hit by flying debris… Seeing as we can’t do the explosions for real can we trigger the lighting desk to provide the correct lighting on Daniel Craig…. OH YES and just for good measure we want to use anANAMORPHIC zoom lens.’
THE GENERAL SET LIFE SIZE
“First of all, a few days prior to the shoot, we tested scaling a move with 2 zoom lenses, one a spherical 18-100mm Angenieux and an anamorphic cooke 36-200mm zoom. I wasn’t holding my breath as the nodal point (NP) on the Angeneux shifted by 7cm through the travel of the zoom and the Cooke by a whopping 12cm. However, putting the NP to be midrange and using FLAIR’s (Flair is Mark Roberts Motion Controls standard software) powerful ‘1 point’ scaling allied to careful measurement and positioning I achieved surprisingly good results. Enough for Bill McNamara from MPC to give the go ahead to use the Cooke Anamorphic lens. Oh joy!
“The number of effects triggers was achieved in conjunction with Mark Mason at Asylum SFX. They had an Mark Roberts Motion Control (MRMC) turntable onto which they mounted an MDF disc with 16 grooves rather like a record. I would rotate the disc 180 degrees during the shot and triggers would be positioned to suit. The beauty of this was that it didn’t matter where the speed ramps were or how fast we were shooting the plates as the turntable would always be locked to the camera move.
READY TO FIRE AND … ACTION!
“The lighting desk operator, Andy Walton, was very helpful.. usually we provide timecode for these things when we are shooting at a fixed speed, but not so useful when speed ramping! Andy had a trigger switch in his desk which could fire a different event every time it received a closed contact.. Perfect, I could set a relay on the 2nd MRMC Output channel and fire each trigger at the correct framecount of the move. Then it didn’t matter where the director wanted to speed ramp the shot, everything would always be synchronised.
“MPC had provided a very detailed animatic which I asked to be supplied with a burnt in frame count. Using MRMC’s frame overlay feature, I was able to program the move and show the director how closely we were matching the animatic as they both had framecounts. This was extremely helpful for the video operator as he could use this to match different takes (even part runs) effortlessly. We were also able to see immediately, using video playback, if an effect was happening at the correct point in the move.
“As the move started and ended with a close up of Daniel Craig’s eyes on a 180mm zoom, it was also necessary to mimic the focus to give the focus puller half a chance to keep him sharp! I must pay tribute to DC (Daniel Craig) at this point, despite the explosions and general mayhem going on around him during these 70 second takes, he was able to nail his final position every time!!
“After 2 days of shooting Bond and the necessary plates, we had to move to the 1/3rd scale set. Having carefully marked out accurate physical relationships between the two sets with gaffer tape, I set the height through measurement and then very carefully positioned the camera in X and Y at the first position and ran the scaled down move. They overlayed beautifully first time!
1/3rd SCALE SET
“We used the same triggering turntable as we had on the life size set so that the larger effects we were now shooting would tie in to the smaller versions that we had fired when DC was there. We needed to shoot faster in order to give the explosions the correct amount of weight, and the VFX supervisor wanted to keep the ramps as they were but to make them faster!! I found FLAIR’s ability to shoot varispeed moves at a percentage of the original invaluable in this. My original move was in the range of 25 – 50fps, and setting the percentage to be 200, I could do the same move in the 50 – 100fps range. Great… but the shutter could not manage the compensation at this faster speed. I had to motorise the iris as well and use FLAIR’s clever shutter + iris compensation to achieve it.
“Despite the best attempts of the SFX department to burn it, hurl fragmented breeze blocks at it, cake it with dust, glass and other debris… the MILO came through with flying colours.
THE MILO TAKING THE HEAT AND THE AFTERMATH
“This was a fantastic job to be involved with and I have never made a single shot film that has used so many of FLAIR’s capabilities. I wasn’t really able to enjoy it until the last afternoon as there was so much to concentrate on and keep on top of.
“Target Tracking, Mimic, Turntable, relay output, Sync light, Varispeed on Arri 435 Extreme, Shutter compensation and then Shutter and Iris compensation, Framecount overlay, Scaling with an anamorphic zoom lens.”