Brandon Trost Cranks It Up with Canon


Crank: High Voltage, the new film from Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor starring Jason Statham and Amy Smart, picks up where their acclaimed 2006 Crank left off to deliver even greater thrills for action-movie fans. This time around these innovative directors further “cranked-up” the pace and unique visual style of their film by shooting it with professional and consumer HD camcorders from Canon. Neveldine, Taylor and director of photography Brandon Trost cite several reasons for this choice, including the lightweight portability and excellent HD image quality of both Canon’s XH A1 3-CCD camcorder and Canon’s consumer-level VIXIA HF10 Dual Flash Memory camcorder.

“We keep the camera moving all the time, and on this film we moved it in ways it has never been moved before,” Taylor explains. “We always felt that we needed cameras that were even more versatile and smaller than what we used on Crank,” adds Neveldine. “Because we shoot on roller blades, hang out of helicopters and do lots of other crazy things, we needed cameras that are incredibly powerful but also really small and fun.”

Digital cinematography is common today in Hollywood, thanks to the 24-frame capabilities of modern HD technology. That said, before the Crank: High Voltage moviemakers could commit to shooting their movie with any brand of small prosumer and consumer HD camcorders, they first had to make sure that those cameras could deliver footage of sufficient image quality for transfer to 35mm film, which is necessary for theatrical exhibition.

“Knowing the size and mobility of the cameras we wanted, it was really just a question of which one gave us the images that we liked,” Taylor notes. “We did film-out tests with several different brands of cameras and discovered that Canon’s new generation of small, lightweight camcorders provide the image quality we needed. Their images look just incredible when transferred to film. Ninety-eight percent of the movie was shot with Canon XH A1 and HF10 HD camcorders. They enabled us to move fast and save time. We feel like camera technology has finally caught up with what we do.”

“Run-and-Gun” Coverage
“As DP, I had as many as 25 cameras to govern on this film,” Trost explains. “We had three camera operators shooting, as well as Mark and Brian and myself. Outside of that we also had an AC for each camera. We never had a shot list. Instead it was ‘anything goes.’ Mark and Brian and I collaborated on seeing how many cool shots we could come up with in the heat of the moment, and that’s how we made the movie.

“The whole film is shot like a skate video,” Trost continues. “Mark was on rollerblades for half the movie as one of the camera operators; he was towed by cars at 50 miles per hour while holding a Canon HD camcorder to get dynamic shots he could never get otherwise. We shot primarily with the Canon XH A1 and also used the HF10 camcorder for smaller shots.

“Throughout the entire shoot we would plant the little HF10 cameras wherever we could. We put those camcorders on remote-control cars and crazy stuff like that. There were even a couple scenes where the ‘hero shot’ was actually done with an HF10. For the most part, the HF10 was a great secondary camera to use in little nooks and crannies to get angles we’d never have captured otherwise.”

“Some of the images in this movie are so amazing, we do not think film people are going to understand how we got them until they see what this rig that we built actually looks like,” says Taylor.

“The footage from the XH A1s and the HF10s intercut really well,” Trost notes. “You would be hard-pressed to tell which shots in the film came from which camcorder. Using so many cameras made things spontaneous and added an urgency to the action that I do not think we could have captured otherwise. We were shooting so fast, we were pulling off around 100 shots a day. We were able to take those little cameras and apply them toward telling the film’s story in any way that we could imagine.”

“With cameras that small and mobile, there is really no limit,” Taylor concludes. “You do not have to do traditional mounting; you just grab the camera and move.”

Crank: High Voltage is in theaters now. For more information on Canon, visit www.usa.canon.com.

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