The crew even hired a famous race drone operator named "Johnny FPV."
I love everything about this. In an age when films are getting bigger and wilder, yet are being tailored for more direct delivery into our living rooms and smartphones, it’s no wonder that the tech to shoot films is somehow becoming a combination of both.
On the set of the new Netflix action film Red Notice (starring an all-star ensemble of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot as a trio of international thieves and double agents), director Rawson Marshall Thurber boldly took digital video cameras to where they’ve never been before.
In an interview with Comicbook.com, Thurber and the film’s producer Hiram Garcia outline how they were able to attach a 6K RED Komodo cinema camera to a race drone to fly it around some of the most exotic (and expensive) sets ever known to man.
The RED Komodo Race Drone
Known for its small size (and a quite reasonable price point), the RED Komodo camera is a 6K powerhouse that you still might more expect to see on an upscale corporate video production or music video set than on a multi-million dollar blockbuster.
Yet here we are, talking about how the filmmakers called it a “tiny camera… about the size of a tissue box,” which was apparently perfect to attach to a race drone. Said race drone was then piloted by “an incredible race drone operator named Johnny FPV, who’s the best in the world,” to shoot these dynamic and outlandish shots.
And while we don’t have clips or footage of this race drone setup to share, we do have this bombastic firsthand account of the setup from the director himself, as well as to which scene they used it for in the film.
A New Approach to Chase Scene Cinematography?
Thurber begins to explain in the video interview on comicbook.com.
“Yeah, those are very, very special shots. In fact, those shots that you're talking about had never been done before in the history of cinema, because the technology that we use to achieve those shots, you know, were invented about six weeks before we used them."
He continues to describe the camera as follows:
"There's a tiny camera called the Komodo Camera from RED that's about the size of a tissue box and we attached it to a race drone. This is a 6K cinema grade quality camera and so we attached it to a race drone, put a small spherical lens on it, and we hired this incredible race drone operator named Johnny FPV, who's the best in the world, to achieve these shots."
Producer Hiram Garcia and his longtime collaborator Johnson (DJ) were also interviewed. Garcia outlines how outlandish the whole setup truly sounds.
"When your director says, 'Hey man, this is what I want to do. It's never been done before,' you're like, 'Well, hell yeah, let's do it. Let's figure out how we do it. I mean, that's our favorite. Our favorite phrase is, 'It's never been done before.' It is catnip to us. And especially to DJ. Just loves things that have never been done. And a lot of the cool drone shots that we use, I mean, we use drones in a hybrid Steadicam version in this movie, where during that chase at the top of the movie where DJ's chasing Ryan, you see those awesome shots, you can tell it's clearly not a steady cam guy following this dude running. That was this top class drone flyer who came in, who did that, that we rigged a camera to his drone. And he's a professional drone racer who pulled off these amazing shots."
Overall this production sounds completely bonkers. If you’ve seen the film, you might have an idea of which sequences the filmmakers are describing. Or maybe you might not! The RED Komodo is no slouch, so it very well could weave in seamlessly with the rest of the production and action.
Still, these types of innovations are certainly worth keeping tabs on as these creative setups and wild tech experimentations might very well shape how filmmakers of any budget or size start to problem-solve their own unique production styles.