The gearheads at Sony and some crazy creatives at Stinkdigital are at it again. Some people don’t just think, “Awesome!” when they see a Michael Bay movie; they think, “I wonder how they shot that interior-facing 360?” We might not all be able to afford expensive dollies and cranes like Bay, so this new video shot with a Sony Action Cam shows you creative ways to mount your camera for interesting shots. Each set was a self-contained space filled with relatively easy to find and inexpensive objects.
Directors Linn-Livjin Wexell and Harry Thompson used things you’d find around your house in ways any DIYer can master, like a hamster wheel, a toy bulldozer, handheld blenders, and balloons. “The process for coming up with interesting ‘rigs’ was extremely interesting and fun. The key was rapid prototyping and a lot of trial and error.” None of these will directly replace a rail dolly or crane, but if you wanted shots like that there are plenty of easy ways to achieve those results with a DIY rig. But we’ve all seen sweeping overhead and smooth motion shots before, and they’re boring compared to the interesting perspectives in this video. “We could have mounted the Action Cam to a drone instead of flying it with helium balloons,” Wexell said, “But that would not have been as fun and interesting.”
The directors said they took full advantage of the Action Cam’s flexibility. Thompson said, “We tried attaching the Action Cam to everything we could possibly think of and spent a full day researching in a toy store. We tried everything from a cuckoo clock, a ceiling fan, and an electrical toothbrush to a plastic swimming frog bought on Canal Street. The only criterion was that the thing had to have an interesting movement that could result in an interesting camera-POV for the split screen.”
This vid is all about split screen, as the words shown on via the split illustrate the key element to that rig (“helium” and “gravity” for the ballon scene, for example). “One great thing about working with the Action Cam was the wristband that all the time showed the camera’s POV on a small screen. It was perfect when dialing in the words for the split-screen scenes.”
DT wondered why they only used the waterproof case in the chemistry scene. Thompson told us, “There was an early set of storyboards that included a fish tank and a toy submarine, but ultimately we decided against using it because we never fully landed on an idea for a “word reveal” that we liked. As for the chemical scene, this was something that we wanted to tackle from early on. We knew it would be an awesome, explosive, colorful way to close out the film. There was a lot of back and forth about whether or not it would work, but ultimately we decided that, if it failed, it would still speak to the DIY nature of the film: Not everything works as you think it will.”
Not everything made it into the finished film, either. There were some pretty cool shots we never got a chance to see. Wexell had an idea to attach the camera to a swimming plastic frog bought on Canal Street. “It actually held up — but we had to deprioritise that rig in favor of some other favorites.”
Thompson shared one scene he wished had gone into the film.”We had an idea for a rocket skateboard that would launch off of a ramp and land inside a fish tank. … The rocket was going to be powered by the now infamous Mentos and Coke chemical reaction. Unfortunately, after a lot of Mentos, and a lot of clean up we realized that the reaction would be too unpredictable and messy for shoot day.”
In the meantime, if you’re doing some rigging for your own cinematic work, this should get the gears in your head whirring. When asked how they came up with this stuff, Wexell said the inspiration for the film was actually the camera itself; “Shape-wise it looks a bit like the old film cameras that our parents used to carry around on their shoulders in the ’90s — it’s just 10 times smaller and prettier.” The camera is one inch wide, two inches high, and only weighs a little over three ounces. “A tiny and lightweight camera gives a lot of opportunities to attach it to crazy objects and weird home-built DIY rigs.” Creative use of tech is what we live for here at DT, and with the music choice, the pastel styling, and the clever mounts, this video made us smile, while somewhere an Apple executive rails at their marketing team — “Why didn’t WE come up with this?!”