Human drama unfolds around us constantly, yet the most poignant moments never wait for us to yell, "Action!" One man who lives this concept is accomplished cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, who spearheaded a recent series of commercials for the US Navy. With the innovation and ease of Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR cameras, Hurlbut captured a series of thrilling moments that embody the dedication of these heroic men and women…in record time.
One of the most dramatic of these commercial spots depicts a Blackhawk helicopter rescuing an injured climber on a mountain peak. Hurlbut used a EOS 5D Mark II onboard a Jet Ranger helicopter to shoot the Blackhawk in flight, and another aboard the Blackhawk to capture shots from inside its cockpit. He shot breathtaking views by holding the EOS 5D Mark II out of the aircraft door and aiming straight down the rescue cable. At the summit of the mountain, Hurlbut later shot the Blackhawk hovering overhead. This powerful display of the Navy's dedication was photographed in digital HD in a matter of a few short hours. Before the EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR cameras, Hurlbut would have deemed such a feat unimaginable.
“What we accomplished was all because of the compact nature of the 5D Mark II, and our ability to take advantage of its still-photography platform, to make beautiful motion pictures. It was amazing what we were able to pull off in so short a time.”
"If we had used motion-picture cameras, it would have taken us half the day just to haul the gear up the mountain," Hurlbut insists. "What we accomplished was all because of the compact nature of the 5D Mark II and our ability to take advantage of its still-photography platform to make beautiful motion pictures. It was amazing what we were able to pull off in so short a time."
Hurlbut calls the EOS 5D Mark II a game changer, due to its CMOS sensor's ability to collect light in widely varying ISO's, its VistaVision depth of field, and unprecedented compact design. "You can capture perspectives with it that no other camera system can deliver," he enthuses. His current production, Act of Valor—which depicts Navy SEAL covert ops in fast-paced action close-ups—has been coming together magnificently thanks to the EOS 5D Mark II's size. As Act of Valor is filmed in various locations around the world and his six-man crew must transport an eight-camera production package during travel, the EOS 5D Mark II allows them to pass through customs simply and, once on location, produce stunning visuals.
"As more film studios begin to understand the power of the EOS 5D Mark II platform, they'll change the way they think about making movies and episodic television," predicts Hurlbut, recognizing that the EOS 5D Mark II's lower cost and film-like footage quality are huge draws. "The 5D Mark II is causing a paradigm shift," he says. "I think the style of filmmaking that's going to come out of the use of the 5D Mark II will be a whole fresh new style that hasn't even been named yet."