Marvel Comics' blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger had a huge impact at the box office, due in large part to groundbreaking camerawork that brought viewers into every action-packed moment. To produce these vivid shots from unforeseen perspectives, filmmakers used the compact and lightweight Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera, a new standard-bearer in the industry.
"The challenge with a lot of action photography is getting the camera in the right position," notes Jonathan Taylor, Captain America: The First Avenger's Second Unit Director of Photography, who credits the EOS 5D Mark II's size with some of the film's top thrills. "Most 35mm motion-picture cameras—and even the leading digital cinematography cameras—are just too big to get into interesting positions. The Mark II enables you to find really good angles and shoot interesting positions. You can also hide it really well. For me it was an action, crash camera, and much more."
From car chases to explosions, Taylor used EOS 5D Mark II cameras to film point-of-view shots and other "action cuts" with ease throughout Captain America: The First Avenger. During one particular chase scene, Taylor mounted EOS 5D Mark II cameras on the fenders of the two colliding automobiles, wrapped them in heavy-duty black foil and spray-painted them to match the colors of each vehicle.
"This was a pretty impressive shot that you would never get with any other camera but the 5D Mark II," says Taylor. "A great thing about those cameras is that they're small enough to be invisible to film cameras simultaneously taking the master shot of the crash."
“The Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera is such a wonderful piece of equipment. It was an action, crash camera, and much more.” —Second Unit Director of Photography Jonathan Taylor
For Taylor, angles are everything when shooting an action film and the faster the cuts, the most energy a sequence has. "A series of fast cuts really moves a sequence along and helps involve the audience," he says. "Plus, it's always good to give the editors lots of material, which is why I used the Canon camera wherever I could get extra angles that are interesting."
Canon's EOS 5D Mark II camera provides full 1920 x 1080 HD video recording at user-selectable frame rates, including 24p (23.976 fps), the standard for motion-picture films. This feature—used in conjunction with the high-resolution image-capture capabilities of the camera's 21.1-megapixel 36 x 24 mm full-frame Canon-manufactured CMOS sensor—enabled Captain America's visionaries to seamlessly intercut the EOS 5D Mark II sequences with 35mm film footage. When paired with the Canon EF series of lenses (one of the world's most comprehensive selections of precision optics), the possibilities for innovation are endless.
"In these cases, I only use Canon EF lenses," insists Taylor. "I think the lenses are very sharp and good in the context of what we use them for, which is quick cuts. They are very compact and the camera itself is incredibly strong. Both withstood an awful lot of abuse. Canon makes great cameras and lenses, and I am definitely a fan."
The Captain America crew left no detail unconsidered, and with Canon's technology they created a genre-advancing piece of cinema. Best of all for moviegoers and filmmakers, Canon is making new advances every day.