The 360-degree edge arm, in-camera stunts and coaxing John Seale, ASC, ACS, out of retirement
It was a long shoot, with main photography ending in 2012 and a return to production reported for an additional three weeks a year later. But, just when some fans had given up on seeing the fourth Mad Max the movie hit theaters, Warner Bros. has started releasing trailers highlighting what appear to be some jaw-dropping vehicle action sequences in the best Mad Max tradition. Is this a return to action-packed form for director George Miller, recently best known for his dishes like happy feet and Babe: Pig in the city? Critics are under embargo until a few days before the May 15 release. But after going through the film’s production notes and reading the reports from the original shoot, here is the most interesting information we found on the set. Mad Max: Fury Road.
Watch the video to see footage of Edge Arm and the film’s stunt crew in action.
Director George Miller hired comic book artist Brendan McCarthy to develop concept art for the film, then hired him as a co-writer. The first version of the film was a 3,500-panel storyboard. Producer Doug Mitchell called this original storyboard “the Magna Carta every sstage of realization Road of fury. ” Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.
On the spot
The show shot for nearly six months in the Namibian desert, at Blanky Flats near Henties Bay. (The area was also a location for the 2004 film Flight of the Phoenix, and films including Dust devil and The king is alive were filmed in the nearby town of Kolmanskop.) Production was moved from its planned Australian locations after heavy rains caused wildflowers to bloom in the landscape, adding too much life to the barren landscape Miller sought. (Some environmentalists have claimed the production damaged the environment, the Namibian Film Commission disputed.) Source: Wired, Warner Bros. official production notes.
John Seale on set. Image via Codex.
Coming out of retirement to go digital
This was the first digital shoot of cinematographer John Seale, ASC, ACS. The DP, who had worked with Miller in the 1992s Lorenzo’s oil, was retired for the project. “It was Mad Max, and it was George, after all. So it didn’t take too long to decide, ”he recalls. “I love working with George. He’s the cutest man. You’re in the desert, the camera is rolling, the truck overturns or explodes, the weather is not right, and he puts his hand on your shoulder and says, ‘Don’t worry, Johnny, I m ‘take care of it, we’ll fix it by mail. ” Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.
You are never too old
Seale even used his own camera – a small number with an 11x zoom lens that allowed him to sneak in close-ups from a distance. Director George Miller called it Seale’s “paparazzi camera”. Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.
George Miller on site.
An arsenal of ARRI Alexas and more
Relying on a 37-person camera department, production ran with up to four ARRI Alexa Plus cameras and three to four more ARRI M cameras running simultaneously on any given day. The Alexas recorded ARRIRAW on Codex on-board recorders. Four Canon 5D Mark II and eight Olympus OM-D E-M5 collision cameras were also in the mix – and George Miller can be seen in promo footage (above) with a Nikon digital SLR. In a note published in Australian filmmaker, Seale described the camera testing process, noting that “most cameras can be purchased at the local photo store. However, they prove that in a quickly edited film their quality is certainly reasonable.” Source: Australian Cinematographer issue 55, ACS NSW E-News December 17, 2012, Codex, Warner Bros. Official Production Notes
Living on the edge
The key to the production’s success was the Edge Arm. LA Motorsport stuntman and stunt coordinator Dean Bailey outfitted the production with two off-road racing trucks, one for the main unit and one for the action unit, fitted with 24-foot roof-mounted, gyro-stabilized, 360-swivel camera cranes. degrees. George Miller captured scenes from inside the camera car – actually a 5.6-liter Toyota Tundra with desert tires – while watching the action on split video monitors. The video was transmitted from the Alexa units via RF, and Miller could create rough stitchings of the action scenes to determine his need for coverage before completing a given shoot. “We could put our cameras where they wouldn’t go in the past,” Miller said, “and weave them across the armada with the wonderful Edge Arm system.” Source: Australian filmmaker number 55, Official production notes from Warner Bros.
Leave it to the Truggies
Two radio controlled truggies (truck / buggy hybrids) carried remote controlled cameras on the heads of the Libra, keeping crew members away from fast vehicles when possible. Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.
Miller has been around long enough that he wanted to capture the action on location and behind closed doors rather than resorting to green screen shots on soundstages and CG composites in the final film. But a stunt seemed to be too difficult to pull in practice – Miller wanted the attacking “boys of war” to use long poles that would swing them overhead, their trajectory descending towards other vehicles. The stunt team eventually developed an upside-down metronome platform – essentially a 30-foot pole counterbalanced by a motor block attached to the base, under a fulcrum. The stunt team pushed and pulled the block, coordinating their movements with the performers on the poles, who kept in touch via headphones. “When I saw this footage, I had tears in my eyes,” Miller said. “I thought anything we tried would be way too dangerous to do it for real, but these guys were completely safe up there. They could stay there all day.” Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.
Go from one day to the next by overexposing
John Seale said he took a note from on-set VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson, who suggested he capture a scene day-to-night by overexposing, not underexposing, his two-stop footage. “Printed, it made us look darker, without a lot of noise in shadows, and gave us a nice effect in moonlight,” Seale explained. Source: Official Warner Bros. production notes.