The Most Insane Camera Moves Pulled Off During an Action Sequence
As our technology continues to advance and we are get lighter, stronger cameras, cameramen get in on the action. Here are the most insane camera moves pulled off during an action sequence.
Action films are known for amazing stunts that showcase the abilities of the stuntmen and actors as they risk life and limb to pull off most daring feats. Quite often for these shots the cameras are locked down pretty tight to make sure everything is captured and so that the camera itself doesn’t come into harm’s way. However, as our technology continues to advance we are getting lighter, stronger cameras, and this really allows cameramen to get in on the action. Here are some of the most insane camera moves pulled off during an action sequence!
Sam Hargrave, Marvel stuntman extraordinaire, makes his directorial debut with Netflix’s Extraction, a gritty action film starring Chris Hemsworth. Something unique about this film is that Hargrave operated the camera for most of the film, allowing him to utilize his skill as a stuntman and get some really impressive shots.
One of the most notable shots is the film’s twelve-minute action scene. At first glance it may look like they use hood mounts or even a Russian arm to get the footage in the car chases. But, you’ll notice just how easily the camera flows from one position to the next. Taking a look behind the scenes, you see that the director is actually strapped onto the front of a car!
this behind the scenes footage from extraction makes me want to duct tape myself to a car with a camera pic.twitter.com/KTO0aohDUo
— NX (@NXOnNetflix) April 27, 2020
With the help of an assistant in the car he could quickly dismount and run with the camera. This allowed him to get the coverage they needed to stitch the clips together in post. For a detailed breakdown of how they shot this scene, check out this extensive interview with the director below.
Video via Ars Technica.
The Raid 2: car chase
The Extraction car chase brought to mind a really cool shot from the car chase in The Raid 2. While this chase isn’t a lengthy one, it does have an amazing shot that you would think was actually several shots digitally stitched together. Believe it or not it really was one take.
Video via VaRaces Chase Database.
By grafting some platforms onto the cars (and even creating a car-seat costume to hide one of the cameramen inside) they were able to pass the through the car while speeding down the highway in one smooth take.
Video via Madman Anime.
MI: 6, HALO jump
Filming skydiving scenes isn’t new, but Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie took it to new heights in Mission: Impossible Fallout, literally. This film showcases the world’s first HALO jump filmed for a motion picture.
Video via KinoCheck Clips.
To film this scene took an amazing amount of pre-production planning and rehearsal, which involved creating the world’s largest wind tunnel and hundreds of parachute jumps. What I really appreciate about this scene is how long the take is. It just might be two shots stitched, but this still helps the sequence stand out from most parachute scenes that are clearly cut together. Just like the shot in Extraction, this scene brings us along for the ride.
One disappointment with this is the CGI Paris and thunderstorm. I feel they take a little bit away from the authenticity of the shot. However, this is a minor pet peeve. They did an excellent job keeping the real horizon in frame, and having the specially made helmets so we could see Tom Cruise’s face the whole time sold it.
Of course, huge props to the cameraman. Tom Cruise’s job was hard enough, but the operator had to maintain exact distances to hold proper framing. Look at how tight some of the segments are. They could have easily collided while filming this sequence. This is definitely one of the craziest camera moves for an action sequence ever, in my book.
Video via Paramount Pictures.
Okay, we’ve been strapping cameramen to cars and throwing them out of planes to get these shots, but there is another way. Directors and cinematographers have tried many ways to spice up the camerawork in a fight scene, from the shaky cam in the Paul Greengrass’ Jason Bourne films to Gareth Evans’ highly motivated camera moves in The Raid: Redemption.
However, check out this fight scene from Upgrade and notice just how smooth some of the camera’s rolling and tilting is.
Video via Movieclips.
Director Leigh Whannell worked with his team to create this effect by utilizing the gyroscope and accelerometers in an iPhone. They actually strapped an iPhone to the lead actor and remotely locked the camera rig’s movements to it. The MKV OmegaR rig and its accompanying app made this possible. The app allowed the rig to move and roll as the iPhone on the actor did, or they could set precise movements in the app itself. You can see the rig in action in the clip below.
I love this because it’s not just an amazing technique, but it’s also relevant to the plot of this scifi-horror film. This also reminds me of the same ingenuity behind “bullet time” in The Matrix, finding ways to use real cameras to get seemingly impossible shots.
There are other notable shots, but these four definitely stand above the rest. I’m excited to see how these shots will inspire other films and how action cinema will evolve with new camera technology.
Cover image via Blumhouse.
Uncover more filmmaking insight here: