Despite the film's tepid reviews (currently 22% on RottenTomatoes), I was compelled to watch the Wachowski siblings' new film Jupiter Ascending this weekend. It was partially due to Angela Watercutter's recent Wired column reminding me that no one makes films like the Wachowskis, even if they're more often misses than hits, of late. They're masterful world builders, and can spend $150 million to show you things you've never seen before on film. Among those in this movie: badass space cops, robot bureaucrats, evolved dinosaur soldiers, and perhaps the most technically impressive chase sequence I've ever seen. Closing the first act of the film is an extended aerial chase through the skyline of Chicago in the minutes during daybreak. Gizmodo reports that this sequence was shot in six-minute increments over a span of six months, using a custom helicopter-mounted camera rig that both stabilized the shooting and meshed together footage from six 5K RED Epics. Bullet-time for cityscapes.
In the final cut, what made the scene look so incredible was that the background plate was actual footage of Chicago, not a CG recreation as is often the case. Think about a film like Man of Steel or even Matrix Revolutions, where the aerial fights are composites of either CG actors in miniature sets, blue-screen actors on top of CG sets, or completely computer generated. Superman fighting Zod through Metropolis' skyscrapers doesn't feel real because those buildings aren't real--there's a false sense of space. In Jupiter Ascending, stunt actors were actually dangling on helicopters flying at 50 mph while being filmed with the custom rig. You get a real sense of space and place, and it's exhilarating.
Pictorvision, the makers of the Multicam Array, have since offered their services for films like this year's Avengers 2 and Furious 7, which may explain how they shot that ridiculous car-crashing skyscraper sequence in the latter film's recent superbowl ad.