How do you ensure moving the camera is truly part of your storytelling?
J.J. Abrams: Obviously, the goal is to always to get the coverage that the scene requires. Sometimes the scene requires hyper-kinetic action, and other times it requires absolute stillness.But it’s always about trying to tell the story in the most emotional way possible. So there are some shots where you want to start off with a giant mass of people from 50-feet high, and by the end you want to be right up close with your two leads, moving through a crowd with them. There are other shots where you want to establish the location, and do a medium master before you come in, and by the end of the shot, have a closeup of your hero. These are things that certainly the Technocrane allows.But cutting out of a Technocrane move can feel jarring, unless you’re cutting in to something that has an equal sort of energy, which is what we tried to do. If you can compose and choreograph a shot in such a way that by the time you’re done you’ve done the work of a couple of setups, that’s a great thing.
You introduce energy by moving the camera in different ways. Like pushing the camera in through a busy foreground, right up to your subject.
J.J. Abrams: The fun of moving through a shot is not just to prove that you got the crane to do it or the dolly track, but that it provides a kind of 3D experience for the audience, without having to do 3D. Having something that is a point of view, and pushing through some foreground to take advantage of the parallax, activates the audience’s brain, because they really feel, “Oh, I’m moving through this space.” And you don’t need glasses for that. It allows you to move through the Z-depth of the shot, not just the X and Y.