American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 24

Navy SEALs take fire during a rescue mission in Act of Valor, which cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC shot primarily with Canon DSLR cameras.

I

Redefining Run-and-Gun By Jon D. Witmer

Since buying his first Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR in early 2009, cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC has been a vocal proponent of the immersive filmmaking style facilitated by the camera’s low profile and large imaging sensor. “The minute I held that camera, I thought, ‘This is going to change everything,’” he recalls. He first put the 5D through its paces on a series of Webisodes he shot and directed that tied into the release of Terminator Salvation (AC June ’09 and Jan. ’10). While posting the project at Los Angeles production company Bandito Brothers, Hurlbut met directors Scott Waugh and Mike “Mouse” McCoy, who were prepping the feature Act of Valor. The movie would follow real Navy SEALs on a series of training exercises and tie that material to a narrative about a terrorist plot. The project would require location work in Kiev, Ukraine; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Costa Rica; and the Horn of Africa, among other sites. “I read the script and liked the idea, but I didn’t know if I wanted to shoot another action picture at that time,” says Hurlbut. “However, I was quickly sucked in by Scotty and Mouse’s outside-the-box vision for the film. If we could use the DSLR platform to immerse the audience in the SEALs’ missions and show the story through the soldiers’ eyes, we could reinvent the action genre.”
24 February 2012

Working with a crew he refers to as the “Elite Team,” Hurlbut carried 15 DSLRs into production, rolling as many as eight at once to capture the soldiers’ operations in real time. Hurlbut recently sat down with AC to describe some of his work on the feature. American Cinematographer: What were some of the things you focused on in prep? Shane Hurlbut, ASC: The part we prepped the most was the first sequence we shot, when the SEALs board and take over a terrorist sympathizer’s yacht. We prepped that with the SEALs for two weeks, working out the operation and getting everything together. Otherwise, we typically had about a week to prep followed by a week to shoot. We used shot lists, but we didn’t have time to storyboard. The SEALs always told us how many times they would repeat an exercise and how much time we would have, but until we actually saw the op go down, we couldn’t know exactly where we needed to put the cameras. We would react to what we saw and try to find the essential storytelling points. When the SEALs took down the yacht, we had eight operators, and each one had a shot list on a dog tag around his neck. We had an operator on each boat, on the deck of the yacht and in the helicopters, and they followed the operation as it played out. On round two, they looked at their shot lists and saw what else they had to get. By the fourth round, we’d done 90 shots for a three-minute action sequence
American Cinematographer

— all in six hours. How did you keep tabs on all the cameras to make sure the material would cut together? Hurlbut: We had camera-etiquette meetings with everyone who would have a camera in his hands. For day exteriors, we set the cameras to 5,200°K. For exposure, we checked the [camera’s] internal meter and then underexposed by a half stop. We never shot an action sequence above a T4/5.6 split, and we were usually at T2.8 1 ⁄ 2 to take advantage of the camera’s shallow depth of field. For composition, our ‘rules of engagement’ were simple: think outside the box, immerse the camera, and keep the point of view through the SEALs’ eyes. This recipe never failed us. How did you approach the sequences that didn’t involve action, like the scenes showing the SEALs in their downtime and the terrorists planning their attack? Hurlbut: We were willing to blaze a trail, but we wanted to do it with a plan that made sense for the story. The 5D was still fairly new and untested, so we decided to use it for the SEAL ops and shoot the other scenes on film. For night exteriors I used [Kodak Vision3 500T] 5219; for day exteriors I used [Vision2 50D] 5201; and for dawn and dusk I used [Vision3 250D] 5207. But later, as I developed a better understanding of the 5D, we started to use it more frequently. Ultimately, we shot everything with the bad guys in Kiev and Cambodia with the 5D. The action sequences are frequently punctuated by slow motion. Were you capturing those bits with film, too? Hurlbut: We put some 5D footage through [Vision Effects’ motion-estimation software] Twixtor to make it slow motion, and we also had an Arri 435 on hand at all times. Once the [Canon EOS] 7D became available, we used that camera, too. It records 60 frames at 720p, so I boosted the shutter to 1 ⁄ 125, and that sharpened the image and made it look more like 1080p. Did you use any other Canon DSLRs? Hurlbut: I used the 1D Mark IV inside the nuclear submarine. It’s not my first choice, because I think it looks a little

Act of Valor photos and frame grabs courtesy of IATM LLC and Relativity Media, LLC.



American Cinematographer - February 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - February 2012

American Cinematographer - February 2012
Contents
Editor’s Note
President’s Desk
Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
Saving the Whales
High Stakes
A Very Bad Cop
Cinema, Italian Style
Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
New Products & Services
International Marketplace
Classified Ads
Ad Index
Clubhouse News
ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - American Cinematographer - February 2012
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 1
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 2
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Contents
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 4
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 5
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 6
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 7
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Editor’s Note
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 9
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - President’s Desk
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 11
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Short Takes: NASA time-lapse footage of Earth
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 13
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 14
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 15
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 16
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 17
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Production Slate: Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseAct of Valor
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 19
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 20
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 21
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 22
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 23
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 24
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 25
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 26
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 27
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 28
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 29
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Saving the Whales
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 31
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 32
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 33
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 34
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 35
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 36
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 37
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 38
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 39
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 40
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 41
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - High Stakes
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 43
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 44
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 45
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 46
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 47
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 48
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 49
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 50
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 51
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 52
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 53
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - A Very Bad Cop
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 55
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 56
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 57
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 58
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 59
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 60
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 61
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cinema, Italian Style
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 63
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 64
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 65
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 66
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 67
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 68
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 69
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 70
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 71
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Filmmakers’ Forum: Hiro Narita, ASC
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 73
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 74
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 75
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - New Products & Services
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 77
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 78
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 79
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 80
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 81
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - International Marketplace
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Classified Ads
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Ad Index
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 85
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Clubhouse News
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - 87
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - ASC Close-Up: Roberto Schaefer
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - February 2012 - Cover4
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