How to Shoot the Parkour in Data Runner

May 19, 2013 in Data Runner, Filmmaking, Parkour, Television and Movies

When most authors start thinking about movie versions of their books, they go straight to casting. I’m a little different. I happen to love the craft of filmmaking, and for that reason I’ve thought often about how to shoot the parkour in Data Runner, and this has led to an interesting dilemma of form vs. function.

The conventional wisdom would be to shoot all the parkour action with a handheld (i.e. shaky cam). The idea here is to put the audience in the shoes of a runner, giving them the visceral experience of running on the heels of Jack, Dexter, and Red Tail. You see this kind of camerawork a lot in television and feature films.

Here’s my issue with that. I’m of the opinion that handhelds are used way too often and unsparingly. Occasionally, a constantly shaking camera can be immersive (Bourne Ultimatum), but most of the time it gets annoyingly distracting (Hunger Games). Nevertheless, handhelds do give you a tightness and intimacy that is often lost when you have to mount the camera to a large gimbal. Steadicams do deliver a smoothness and fluidity that handhelds can’t, but generally have to sacrifice maneuverability in order to get it. So it becomes a question of form vs. function.

Enter the MoVI M10 by Freefly Systems. When I saw this video, and the quality of footage the filmmakers were able to capture with this 3-axis gimbal, I knew that this was the perfect rig to capture the action of the book. This mount allows fast-paced shots to be composed in-camera, preserving the intimacy of a handheld while simultaneously delivering a fluid motion that can showcase all the beauty and elegance of parkour. Watching this video, it isn’t hard to mentally replace the content of each camera movement with material from the book. It isn’t just a perfect melding of form and function, it is the perfect rig to shoot the parkour action of Data Runner.

Check it out, and please comment to let the rest of us know what you think…