Magazine article American Cinematographer

Skiing into the Action

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Skiing into the Action

Article excerpt

To create a particularly hair-raising action sequence in snowy mountains for Inception, director Christopher Nolan wanted to capture spectacular shots on the slopes and from the air in the Canadian Rockies. Aerial cinematographer Hans Bjemo worked with a Beaucam VistaVision camera for helicopter shots, and action-sports cinematographer Chris Patterson hit the slopes with a PanArri 235 to capture the close coverage.

"Fundamentally, I wanted every shot to be moving," says Nolan. "I wanted to base the photography in these scenes on what we'd done with vehicles in The Dark Knight. I wanted to always have a point of view for the camera, to always be moving with the action and putting the authence into the experience. Chris was able to pull off some really extraordinary shots. He was very receptive to putting more and more movement into shots, even little storytelling shots. That footage all cut together with what I like to call a 'tumbling forward' quality, where you're being pulled along with the action."

Patterson's PanArri 235 was equipped with 200' 2-C magazines. The lens was usually a 28mm, 35mm or 75mm Panavision G-Series anamorphic prime. Primo 48-550mm and 270840mm zoom lenses were used to capture some shots from a distance. "I approach it like bike racing - * shaving ounces keeps me shooting longer and helps me maintain better control," says Patterson. "I have the camera supported for handheld with a lightweight rig made by Red Rock Micro that includes a [Preston wireless] FIZ remote follow focus. My first AC, Scott DaHarb, is familiar with my high-energy shooting, and he skis along behind me, pulling focus. …

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