We used three Blackmagic Design cameras, one URSA Mini Pro 12K and two Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pros, to shoot in the cramped cabin of the plane. Our talented first camera assistant, Ryan Pilon, attached the Mini Libra’s remote head to a 9m suspended techno-crane and moved it from the cockpit with the windshield removed to the rear of the fuselage, allowing passengers to get close. I came up with a way to shoot close-ups. It was a cool method, but it was difficult. These shots were super dynamic shots that I wanted to do early on, and I managed to do it.
After some testing, we installed a track in the ceiling that allowed the camera to take close-up shots of the actors in the cockpit from the back of the plane. Shooting in such a small space was not easy, but the characters moving around the plane made for a very dynamic and engaging shot. When shooting with a wide lens, the track on the ceiling shows up, so I removed it in post-production.
One of the benefits of the URSA Mini Pro 12K for this shoot was the ability to use it on a regular basis or stow it somewhere in the plane and shoot in high resolution. Now you can insert shots from the same angle, but at different sizes.
We added one more URSA 12K for a two-day shoot at the Georgia airport instead of Marco Island Airport (Naples, Fla.). For example, an airport fire brigade in a crash scenario slides off a pole, jumps into a truck, and rushes to the landing site. Placing the camera-less URSA 12K right next to the runway also gave us the flexibility to reframe where the real King Air 200 would land or taxi.
Another shot that I’m happy with is one that I didn’t think was possible even after a week of shooting on set. A URSA Mini Pro 12K with an ARRI Ultra Prime 8R lens mounted on a discreet liquid head was placed on the floor in the rear of the cabin. A mother and her two daughters are desperately praying, hoping for “divine intervention.” I wanted to capture their facial expressions as they held hands and shed tears from a 360° ultra-low angle. 1st AC Ryan was able to capture some very emotional and dramatic shots by laying on the floor and rolling the camera slowly and continuously. Of course, it is also used in movies.
Imagine a movie where the main characters are stuck in a tight spot for most of the story. I needed the shots to be as dramatic as possible to keep the audience engaged. Sean had the idea of moving from a wide shot of the exterior of the plane flying over to a close-up shot of the family on board long before I joined. The movement of the technocrane on the track was initially planned so that from about 30 feet away (using the digital King Air fuselage, wing and engine with VFX enhancements) we could move to a close-up of the person on board. The tight space made it very difficult to shoot, but we needed dynamic and engaging footage.