No company likes to up the camera resolution ante quite like RED, and now it's announced that the upcoming sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy will be shooting on its new 8K camera system, dubbed Weapon. In a press release, RED Digital Cinema president Jarred Land stated that Guardians Vol. 2 will be the first film to use the system, which is an amped-up version of RED's current 6K Weapon camera.
Shooting on the higher resolution format will give director James Gunn more information to work with, resulting in a sharper image when the movie ends up going out in IMAX or other premium large format theaters. Digital capture also has a multitude of benefits when working on effects-heavy films like Guardians, but after the RED news was announced, the filmmaker took to Facebook to go into further detail about why the production decided to go that route.
"For me, it's an aesthetic and creative choice."
"I also get a lot of folks asking why we chose not to shoot on film, and it's assumed we aren't doing so because of the expense," Gunn wrote, before explaining that on films with budgets this big, the savings is negligible in the grand scheme of things. "For me, it's an aesthetic and creative choice."
Gunn went on to point out that many filmmakers use digital formats only to end up trying replicate the look of film, which while it has his place — "some of the most gorgeous movies of 2015 have been in that format," he wrote — can sometimes be a result of filmmakers trying to recapture the nostalgia of their youth. "For me, I'm interested in being one of the many who help to create a new kind of magic that will usher the cinematic experience into the future," Gunn wrote. "What will the children of today think of fondly with nostalgia?"
Gunn is pro-digital without apology
It's an important point, and it runs counter to the argument that filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino often make that film is the only one "true" capture medium. (Tarantino even refers to digital projection as "HBO in public.") Others, like Christopher Nolan, are careful to frame it as an issue of personal preference, and shooting on film certainly does lend their movies unique visual characteristics and warmth. Even the limitation of having to shoot in relatively short takes — Gunn mentions that when shooting film, he can only run the camera for 11 minutes at a time, while on digital he can keep rolling for up to an hour — changes the way in which a movie can be made.
Given how singular the original Guardians of the Galaxy was in contrast to the rest of Marvel's movies, I'm inclined to support anything that gives Gunn the tools and creative freedom he needs to realize Vol. 2 the way he sees fit. We'll see the benefits of RED's new camera when the movie hits theaters in 2017.