Why 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' is Shooting on RED's 8K WEAPON Camera
In case you missed it, the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel is going to be the first feature to utilize RED's new 8K Vista Vision/Full-frame 35mm camera.
After this announcement, there were quite a few folks who took to social media to question why the movie wouldn't be shooting on film or on a high-end camera like the ALEXA 65 (or even on ALEXA XT like the previous film). In response, director James Gunn decided to explain his reasoning for choosing the camera, and how it would fit into their workflow.
As a refresher, he's what the first film looked like, shot by Ben Davis, BSC, in 2.8K 4:3 ARRIRAW on ALEXA XT. The opening of the film was shot anamorphically on Cooke Xtal Express lenses, while they went spherical for the rest of the film with Panavision Primo and Angenieux Optimo Lenses, partly as a way to give more room for reframing with VFX:
Here's the text from Gunn's post on Facebook (emphasis mine):
With the announcement that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be the first film to shoot on the RED Weapon 8K, I've received a lot of excitement from a lot of people. THANKS! However, I also get a lot of folks asking why we chose not to shoot on film, and it's assumed we aren't doing so because of the expense.
So, if you're interested, here's the deal.
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. As anyone who has ever worked with me knows, I am a control freak. Such high resolution gives me the ability to control ever single bit of data (to do so would take a long time, but at least the knowledge comforts me). 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. I respect many of the filmmakers who continue to shoot on film - and some of the most gorgeous movies of 2015 have been in that format. But I think sometimes that the love of actual film is based in nostalgia more than it is in objective beauty. Many filmmakers remember the films of their youth and want to replicate that magic. For me, I'm interested in being one of the many who help to create a new kind of magic that will usher the cinematic experience into the future. What will the children of today think of fondly with nostalgia?
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.
And there are three other reasons I chose this format:
1) It is easier to seamlessly incorporate massive amounts of visual, digital effects - including a digital tree and raccoon - into a digital base.
2) One of the ways I capture my actor's performances is by doing massively long takes, over and over - sometimes up to an hour - much longer than your typical 11-minute reel of film. I find this a better way to capture the energy and rawness in a performance (and we get better outtakes of me yelling at Michael Rooker off-screen).
3) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be utilizing another new technologies I'm very excited about but can't quite go into yet. But, for this technology, you need a camera the small size of the RED Weapon - a film camera is too big, as is the Alexa 65 (which is also an amazing camera).
Have a wonderful day.
Here are some of the major sensor sizes, giving you a sense of how much real estate WEAPON 8K is using:
Certainly being familiar with RED's system already is a huge help, since Gunn's film Super was shot on the RED ONE, and his DP Henry Braham, BSC shot on the 6K EPIC DRAGON for his last film The Legend of Tarzan, which utilized Panavision 70mm and Canon lenses (and we may see some of this combination on the new film since they can cover the full 8K frame):
It's also important to note that we have a good idea of what to expect from RED's 8K format as they've just taken a larger sensor cut of their DRAGON technology. That means dynamic range and color will be similar to the 6K WEAPON & 6K EPIC DRAGON cameras, but detail and depth of field will certainly change when the entire 8K frame is used. This 8K camera is also capable of shooting at a number of frame sizes under 8K, so if they don't want/need 8K for the whole film they can still use the same camera bodies.
Back to his post on Facebook, as there are two important points in his answer. The first is that he's "interested in being one of the many who help to create a new kind of magic that will usher the cinematic experience into the future." He's not interested in the nostalgia aspect of shooting on film, which is why film likely wasn't even a consideration for him on the sequel (and they'd already shot digitally for the first Guardians movie).
The other important part of why this camera was chosen is that they are utilizing some kind of new technology that he can't explain just yet, and a bigger camera simply would not have worked. I'm assuming they aren't shooting 3D as the first film was post-converted, and you actually have much more control with a post conversion (as Gunn himself has said). While there will likely be a 3D version, it's possible that they might do some sort of 360 VR rig for certain shots. There are plenty of different 360 VR rigs out there, but here's a look at one rig used on Justin Lin's 360 degree short film:
You really can't have large cameras for VR/360 rigs, which is why that's the theory I'm leaning towards right now. Then again that could totally be off the mark, but there are a limited number of technologies that need small and powerful cameras besides 3D and VR.
What do you think this new technology is that makes the small size of the 8K WEAPON necessary?