When it comes to directors, #GuardiansoftheGalaxyVol2's James Gunn is one of the most acclaimed among fans, as well as the most accessible. Along with regular Facebook live videos, and some of the most thoughtful posts you'll read, he's well-known for his impromptu Q&A sessions with fans about his movies. While most queries are typical, one question that's sparked debate since before the sequel even began filming has to do with the type of camera used to shoot it.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Was Shot With A RED 8K Camera
Early on, #JamesGunn decided to use a digital camera to shoot the second Guardians movie, specifically, the WEAPON 8K S35 camera. Gunn initially told fans that he chose the camera for aesthetic purposes, along with describing the benefits of using such a camera in shooting GotG2.
"When you’re shooting a film at the level of 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' the cost of film vs. digital is negligible — for me it’s an aesthetic and creative choice.
Firstly, I believe when shooting on a format like the Red Weapon 8K or the Alexa 65, the amount of data is so massive — certainly more so than on a strip of film — that it gives you more freedom in production and post production to create exactly the film you want to create than actual film does.
Many filmmakers look to essentially replicate the look of film, but I don’t share that interest. I believe that innovations in camera and shooting technologies as well as visual and practical effects gives us the ability to create a new aesthetic of film, one different from what the past has offered but equally beautiful – perhaps even more so. And, yes, most filmmakers who have shot digital have underutilized the format. But with these new cameras their advantages are easier to see for everyone."
For most, that explanation would be reason enough for James Gunn's decision to use the new RED 8K camera to shoot the sequel. But Gunn recently went one step further with a collaboration with the RED company on a behind-the-scenes video, one that provides us with an even more detailed description of the benefits in using that particular camera to shoot movies.
What Won James Gunn Over?
Gunn's explanation in the video shows he really cares about what he's doing when directing a movie. His priority is making a gorgeous, quality movie so that future generations have something spectacular to remember when they look back on Guardians 2. He knows that people remember the look of A New Hope, of Jurassic Park and great films in general so he hopes that people will look back on the Guardians of the Galaxy films with the same definitive view.
His cohort on the production of Guardians 2, cinematographer Henry Braham also chimed in during the behind-the-scenes look, speaking about modern-day filmmaking and how it requires a unique type of camera to catch all those various angles. The 8K was especially adept at capturing those 70mm wide shots that needed to be fluid when caught on camera. Not only does the 8K make it easier to capture these wide shots, but the camera being so small, it's able to be craned around a room to capture all the elaborate shots a director could ever want.
In the BTS video, Gunn talks about the use of a Supertechno crane to capture those crazy, close-up shots, like the ones of Gamora sliding her sword down the belly of that inter-dimensional beast introduced in the beginning scene. The crane isn't all that important but having a great quality camera like the 8K placed in the crane makes a huge difference. Other cameras would either be too large to fit atop the crane or the smaller cameras would just lack picture quality, so the 8K solves both those problems since it's small and advanced. The size is actually why the 8K is a much more efficient camera to use in film-making.
Size Matters: The Smaller, The Better
Being such a small camera, it's much easier for a director to place the camera atop rigs like the Spidercam rig. The Spidercam rig sits on four wires and allows a camera to be placed on top of it, to flow freely through the open air space on a set. Gunn points out the use of the Spidercam in the BTS video, and you can see for yourself that the camera moves fluidly, without any resistance. But if they were using a slightly bigger camera, there would definitely be a drag on the camera, making it too slow to capture all the action. Or the camera wouldn't pick up on the images flowing through the lens fast enough, making some shots difficult to see and indiscernible to the naked eye.
Addtionally, the 8K presents the perfect solution to a problem many directors face: trying to get the shot they want. #GotGVol2 was, first and foremost, a character study and family drama. That means that while there are big, flashy sequences, the real heart of the movie was built on its quieter moments of character development. And that means close-ups. The problem is, when you have a bigger camera in an actor's face, it can be harder for them to act naturally, or the director can't quite get the close-up they want because the camera is in the way. If an actor doesn't have to worry about a camera being distracting because it's smaller and less intrusive, it really changes what a director can get out of their performance.
Whatever your opinion may be, Gunn made the right decision here. The difference in quality between an average RED camera and the 8K WEAPON is debatable, but it definitely improved the experience for me. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an eye-popping movie with truly stunning visual sequences. After watching it, I can say confidently that I hope it's used to shoot more movies in the future.
Do you think the new camera made a difference in quality? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.