Marvel’s epic follow up to the biggest super hero movie of all time was released a few weeks ago and it’s been an outright smash. According to Box Office Mojo, the Joss Whedon directed Avengers: Age of Ultron had the second highest grossing opening weekend ever, bringing in $187.7 million and only just coming in second to its predecessor Marvel’s Avengers (which took in $207 million in its opening weekend).
Shooting the massive blockbuster’s 2nd Unit wasn’t quite as grand an affair, with cinematographer Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy) using the Pocket Cinema Camera for much of the footage.
The film takes on a different tone to the first of the series, with Tony Stark attempting to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, inadvertently bringing Ultron to the fore. The plan backfires when the sentient robot’s answer to peace on earth is to destroy all the humans.
“The first was about a coming together, whereas this film is about a coming apart, which is reflected in the tone of the script,” explains Ben. “The narrative of the film is far more dark and menacing, so the visual approach was grittier, darker and more earthbound.”
“I was a big fan of what Anthony Dodd-Mantle had achieved on “Rush” using small camera platforms, especially when it came to mounting them in unusual places and the shots he was able to achieve,” he reveals.
“I decided to get a Pocket Cinema Camera in for testing after bumping into DIT friend of mine who’d recently purchased a one, and was raving about it. For me, it was a no-brainer really, it was all about the latitude and size. Suddenly I had a small camera which not only output a 12-bit RAW image, but it also had a latitude that was getting up to and around the level of high end digital cinema film cameras.”
“There are two large battle sequences in particular during the film, the first is at the beginning and the second features in the third act, and we very much wanted these to be shot as a war correspondent would cover news in a conflict zone. What we needed was a lightweight camera that we could then distribute around the set during the filming of battle sequences that would give us more than twelve frames of good quality HD material that we could match with our main camera package.”
“For this we used eight Pocket Cinema Cameras paired with either a 14mm pancake lens or a 12-35mm zoom, which we then mounted to impact points around the set. Say for example a truck was being blown up and thrown through the air and we wanted to capture it landing on top of a car, we would put one of the Pocket Cinema Cameras in a small metal housing and put it in the car. Another instance involved mounting the Blackmagic camera to a tank, because we could literally strap it one on the end of a magic arm and bolt it to almost anywhere we wanted it to be on the tank.”
“When I got the Pocket Cinema Cameras in I thought they would be a nice to have, however I ended up using these far more than I ever thought we would,” concludes Ben. “The appealing thing about this camera is its size to quality ratio. The footage is usable for a much longer cut time than previous incarnations of small camera platforms and so the camera does in fact become far more useful.”
Check out the B-Roll video below, from Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Excerpts from Press Release