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Children Of Men: NPR Story 7-minute Shot


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#1 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 01:12 PM

Caught this on NPR yesterday afternoon...

http://www.npr.org/t...p...637&sc=emaf

Plays with RealPlayer.
7-minute shot in CHILDREN OF MEN from the director's point of view. Compliments this LA Times article as well:

http://www.steadicam...?showtopic=3837

-Matt
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#2 Kareem La Vaullee

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 01:44 PM

The Director is not talking about Steadicam in the interview for the simple reason that it was shot handheld, here are two pictures from the shoothing of that sequence :

Posted Image

Posted Image

In the interview he forgot to say that to obtain the final shot in the film they mixed several takes...

K.
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#3 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 03:04 PM

Kareem,

Thanks for the picts and the accurate info. I was a bit mislead by the LA Times article and I have yet to see the film myself as it comes out there on Christmas. The NPR interview makes it sound like it was all one take. Using multiple takes is fine, but it's not the same as all-in-one-take. Thanks again Kareem.

Hey Erwin or one of the other mods, maybe you could delete the word 'steadicam' from this thread title?

-Matt
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#4 Erwin Landau

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 05:24 PM

Matt, Done...

I just read the article in American Cinematographer...(Dec.20006) p.73:

<< Lubezki says he and Cuaron had two major disagreements on their approach to the picture. The first had to do with Steadicam. "In my mind,I wanted to do a combination of handheld and Steadicam, because I think if you shoot everything handheld (the technique) loses its power. In my dream, Children of Men was going o be 60 percent Steadicam; with a good operator, it doesn't look mechanical. But on the first day of shooting, we did five takes with the Steadicam, and then Cuaron said, 'Take away the Steadicam, we'll do it handheld'. After that the Steadicam stayed in the truck, and every day I tried to put it up, until Cuaron said, 'Chivo forget the Steadicam. We're never going to use it.' One of the things I don't like about handheld is that when you're trying to concentrate on a person's face in a wide shot, you lose definition because there's motion blur. It drives me crazy, because I want to be able to focus on the actor's eyes." >>


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#5 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 06:05 PM

For any of you who havent yet seen this movie its the most incrediable piece of operating and focus pulling i think ive ever seen. The entire film from start to finish is a tour de force example of an operator and focus puller in perfect sync. Personally i think steadicam would have ruined the approach completely.
Its also a stunning showcase of visual effects, and a bloody good movie.
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#6 Charles Papert

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:03 AM

Agreed. The movie was so strong in so many ways, but the visual sequences, particularly the two that play out in extended single takes (whether multiple sections married by swish pans/CGI or not, the effect is absolutely that of a continuous shot) that are unlike anything I have ever seen. I had assumed the car sequence to be elaborate CGI but I have since read that the meat of it was achieved via a mechanical setup named "the contraption"...fascinating stuff.

I think every camera operator, Steadicam and otherwise, should see this film.
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#7 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:52 PM

Agreed. The movie was so strong in so many ways, but the visual sequences, particularly the two that play out in extended single takes (whether multiple sections married by swish pans/CGI or not, the effect is absolutely that of a continuous shot) that are unlike anything I have ever seen. I had assumed the car sequence to be elaborate CGI but I have since read that the meat of it was achieved via a mechanical setup named "the contraption"...fascinating stuff.

I think every camera operator, Steadicam and otherwise, should see this film.



George Richmond was the operator. He was my 2nd once. He was actualy singled out in thew LA Times review. Haven't ever seen that before. Props to George! Hope to see the film soon. The LA Times had a picture and article on Saturday about the long moving car sequence. They used an underslung compact remote head that was hung off speed rail on track where the roof was cut out and able to travel N,S,E,and W inside the car. The seats were modified so the actors could drop them and get out of the way of the camera. Getting the actors to do that and act a difficult scene was a major achievment. I can barely get some of them to hit a mark or exit frame on the correct side of the camera; forget about moving things out of my way!
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#8 Matt Burton

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:28 PM

Amazing film !
I did get sick of the hand held shots though, although beautifully shot to me it cryed out for steadicam in some parts.
Anybody else think the hand held was over done ?
-matt
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#9 Kareem La Vaullee

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:52 PM

Anybody else think the hand held was over done ?


During the strange lunch sequence in the Museum I have found the handheld style really disturbing.

I don't see how some good Steadicam here and there would have "ruined" anything in that movie, or in any other.

K.
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#10 Matt Burton

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 08:12 PM

Anybody else think the hand held was over done ?


During the strange lunch sequence in the Museum I have found the handheld style really disturbing.

I don't see how some good Steadicam here and there would have "ruined" anything in that movie, or in any other.

K.


Agreed, but In the long shot I think handheld was perfect but other places it just looked like the cam op was mimiking what he'd do with steadicam.
Still it would have been fun to try that long shot with a light rig :rolleyes:
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#11 Charles Papert

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 09:52 PM

Agreed, but In the long shot I think handheld was perfect but other places it just looked like the cam op was mimiking what he'd do with steadicam.


Interesting thought Matt...I'm not sure how I'd separate that goal from simply attempting to perform good, smooth handheld.
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#12 Matt Burton

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:49 PM

It seemed like the camera opp was being told to make the shots more edgy and shaky, i'm sure they could have been pulled smoother if intended. The reason for this i'm not too sure as it starts this way right from the start of the film, perhaps to add to the raw feel of the film but by the time it's most needed it seems over played.
I still need to see the film a few more times thought and it's such a pleasure to watch.
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#13 Charles Papert

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 04:54 PM

I gotcha. Chivo has been quoted as saying that he would have liked to have used Steadicam in certain places but Cuaron was adamant about doing it all handheld.

I think that at the very least it was good that the handheld was as smooth as possible, there wasn't the attempt to make it noticeably rough.
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#14 WillArnot

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 04:51 PM

Agreed, agreed. Phenomenal operating. A must see for operators regardless of Steadicam. Steadicam is a tool that requires skill to be sure, but it is really the art of operating that counts. In the Clive on the run in the refugee camp there is incredible choreography with bullet hits and bombs going off - amazing AD / SFX dept. work to coordinate it all. And a great sense of timing from George / Chivo to show it all off and make it feel so real. Also as Chivo talks about in AC magazine, interesting debate on unmotivated camera movement. Camera remains objective and yet doesn't draw unneccesary attention to itself. Much harder to make operating look good when you don't have an actor driving the frame.

Timing is everything. Right time and right place, as the saying goes not only in life but in operating as well. A masterpiece effort by Chivo and George highlighted by the Clive-on-the-run sequence in the refugee camp, and the escape from the farmhouse at dawn, and of course the incredible car shot (two cuts in there... seamless).

In Erwin's quote above, when Chivo was fighting for Steadicam in the beginning and they did 5 takes before doing it handheld... Is George also a Steadicam operator? Curious. I enjoyed seeing very Steadicam designed shots being done very well handheld. I usually hate overdone handheld - this movie was a rare occasion where I bought. Although I think Steadicam could have done even better in places.

I like how Chivo realizes the value of a good Steadicam operator being able to pull off a challenge like this and not make it look mechanical. I see so much "mechanical" operating these days.
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#15 Charles Papert

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:54 PM

Will, how are you defining "mechanical"? Not making subtle adjustments with actors, that sort of thing?
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