Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut (Terminator Salvation, Act of Valor) is using eight of the lightweight Codex OnBoard 5 recorders to support the more than 35 cameras that are being used to shoot the film—often under the most extreme conditions.
Directed by Scott Waugh and starring Aaron Paul, Michael Keaton, Dominic Cooper and Imogen Poots, Need for Speed is slated for a March 2014 release.
Hurlbut’s camera package includes four Arri Alexas, 13 Canon C500s, 10 Canon 1D-Cs and 15 GoPro Hero3s. The veteran cinematographer selected the cameras in order to maximize image quality and flexibility in a variety of challenging conditions.
"Each of these cameras does something spectacular,” he explains. “Arri Alexa is my day/exterior camera, Canon C500 is my day/interior, night/interior, night exterior camera. The smaller cameras give me the ability to embed in some incredibly tight and small places, including in our $2 million super cars. We’re taking advantage of the physical characteristics and sensor attributes of the various cameras to tell the story.”
“Codex recorders are my go-to device for the C500, without it you can only capture 1080p,” Hurlbut notes. He adds that Codex recorders are essential to recording high-speed media with the C500, something he is doing frequently in this production. “120 fps, 72 fps and 48fps are rolling on every stunt event that we have and that is 58 out of the 67 day schedule.”
“We are constantly separating the Codex recorders from the camera and putting them in different places,” Hurlbut states. “We can use 3G cables to locate the recorder in the trunk of a car that is traveling at 120 mph; we can also use it with wireless rigs and sliders moving alongside the vehicles.” The eight Codex Onboard S recorders used in the production were supplied by Revolution Cinema Rentals, which also assisted in securing and modifying ancillary gear used to support the recorders on the set.
Hurlbut has developed a method of organizing and working with cameras that allows him to react quickly to any production situation. On Need for Speed, he has cameras pre-configured to rigs and stored in what he calls “the gun rack” so that they can be deployed at a moment’s notice.
“If we want to pull, we have a Porsche rig; if we want to push, we have our own Bandito camera car that can follow cars at up to 150 mph,” he says. “We have a Russian arm car, a slider car and a plethora of smaller rigs. They are all built the whole time so we can switch in the blink of an eye. It allows us to be nimble, even when working with a lot of cameras.”
Prior to the start of production, Hurlbut conducted extensive tests with the cameras and Codex recorders to ensure they could stand up to extreme conditions and deliver the expected results. “We placed an Onboard S in a car, then drove it around a track at 135 mph; it came through we flying colors,” he recalls. “Codex recorders are tried and true. They can take the pounding, vibration and speed.”
The Codex Onboard S, says Hurlbut, was a crucial component to a workflow that is allowing him to capture car racing sequences in a manner and at a level of intensity that has not been seen before. “Our director is all about realism,” Hurlbut says. “He wants it raw, visceral and immersive—and our system is allowing us to deliver that on a huge scale.”