American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 34
Wise checks the settings on Dragonframe for a truck insert set.
motion. For efficiency, a number of stock
racing scenes were captured that could be
used in every episode.
"When the trucks are moving really
fast, you run out of real estate very quickly,"
Towner explains. "We had a couple of shots
where we were tracking along with the
truck and we would get to the end of the
set, and just go back to the beginning of it,
creating an invisible cut in the sequence."
The largest and most challenging set
to prepare for the production was the 6'x12'
figure-eight mini-speedway, where the
townspeople race their semi-trucks. With
the trucks at 1:43 scale for the racing
scenes, the set was designed to allow for
shooting in any direction and required 350
degrees of sky visibility, with just a small
sliver without coverage.
With the majority of the racing
scenes taking place at night, 64 1-watt LEDs
were custom-built into the set as on-camera
stadium-lighting practicals, which Wise
supplemented with four Arri 150s. Around
the outer edge of the set, 20 covered
wagons, each containing two photofloods,
were positioned to give off a slight orange
tint, "creating the effect that there is some34
thing going on beyond the horizon," Wise
For fill light, four Arri Studio Cool 4s
- two fitted with tungsten-balanced tubes
and two with daylight - were bounced off
muslin. Employing Dragonframe's automated DMX lighting-board functionality,
Wise adjusted the color temperature of the
fill, fading more toward the blue during
night scenes for a moonlight effect. For
daytime scenes, Wise and his crew
employed 18 Arri 300s, four Arri 650s and
the covered wagons to light the sky. Two
Arri T1s were set as key light, with "one at
each end of the speedway," Wise says.
"One or the other played as a back key
light, depending on which way we were
During the production of Robot
Chicken, a custom rig dubbed the "EMover," invented by Ethan Marak, has
been employed to capture sequences that
would normally be achieved with a
Steadicam on a conventionally scaled
production. For the speedway racing scenes
in Buddy Thunderstruck, Guglielmo created
a smaller E-Mover customized specifically
for Olympus Air A01 cameras. This rig
allowed the camera to capture racing
footage from a low angle as it moved
steadily and seamlessly between the trucks
on the speedway.
"[The E-Mover] helps put the animator in the mindset of being a camera operator, giving them control over the camera as
well as the character," Towner says.
The A01 bodies were paired with
Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm lenses that
featured Micro 4⁄3 mounts. Wise explains
that the Olympus cameras were "mostly
used on the speedway, but exclusively for
1:43-scale truck shots." Programmers at
Dragonframe wrote custom code specifically for this production that added support
for the Olympus Air cameras.
The majority of postproduction was
completed in-house and occurred simultaneously with production, which is standard
procedure at Stoopid Buddy.
Wise and colorist Sparkle performed
color correction at the Technicolor offices in
Hollywood with Blackmagic Design DaVinci
Resolve, for a ProRes 4:4:4, 1920x1080 final
deliverable. An important element of the
grade was creating consistency among
scenes ostensibly taking place on the same
set that were actually shot on different
stages. Another priority was desaturating
colors to maintain the natural, documentary-style look that Towner and Wise sought
for the production.
"I was blown away - from the first
animation tests, to the weeklies, to the final
show," Wiesbrock says of his experience on
Buddy Thunderstruck. "I had high expectations, and it turned out even better than I
imagined. I couldn't be happier."
Canon EOS 70D, Olympus Air A01
Nikon Nikkor, Voigtlander Nokton,