Angelini: And you guys had to use some innovation there. It wasn’t just standard stuff. High-end technology is not always suited for life in the field, especially in a movie like Act of Valor. What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to be able to use that hardware and make it durable and last to get that action close to the actor.
Rosenberg: We didn’t. The cameras we had were $2500 cameras. If you’re on a typical movie set, the camera’s going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We had a $2500 camera that if it broke we could go to Best Buy and buy a new one. So that empowered us to be way more aggressive. “Oh, so there’s salt water that gets on the camera.” So what. “Oh, there’s mud that’s on the camera.” So what. “Oh, we crashed into the camera and broke it.” So what. Just pull out the CF card and make sure we got the shot.
I think that Act of Valor is such a unique project because so much was borne from the reliance on technology as a friend and as a means of making the film more engaging. And that Canon 5D Mark II enabled us to get closer to the actors with a camera that could put up an image on a big screen that people would not have a problem with. And in post, our job is, if there are problems like rolling shutters and stuff like that, we’re obligated to fix that stuff to make sure there are no technical issues that the audience experiences.
Angelini: How many 5Ds did you go through?
Rosenberg: I think we only lost five. At most we used 15 on certain sequences. But I think five got totally hosed.
Angelini: When you’re doing those shots and all of the action is happening in a self-contained helmet cam with the camera on one side and storage on the other, how do you know when you got the shot you want?
Rosenberg: That was using a remote RCA connection that was screening the material to the directors and the DP Shane Hurlbut. The SEALs would wear the helmet cam, they would go through their sequences, then they would watch it and plug the camera into a DreamColor monitor and review the shot.
Angelini: Do you do any gaming yourself?
Rosenberg: I grew up playing video games. One of my first jobs ever was a game counselor for Sega of America back in the day. This is old-school when something like Spider-Man would come out and people were trying to beat Sandman and they’d call up on the phone and ask how to get past the level and I’d tell them how. But I’ve always had an affinity for games, and I’ve always enjoyed video games for sure. Tony Hawk Pro Skater, the original, that’s one of the greatest games ever. And Sega Hockey 1990 and 1991, those are some of the best video games ever.
Angelini: I think a lot of the Tom’s guys are going to watch Act of Valor and see a lot of parallels between some of their favorite video games like Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty. Do you think about that relationship while you’re working on this stuff?
Rosenberg: I don’t think we thought consciously about the relationship while we were working on the project, but Scott and Mouse specifically wanted to make sure that the first-person shooter was the most accurate that’s ever been seen outside of a video game.