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ACTION MAN

To get into the action spirit, Urban Cinefile sent our resident action man, Sebastian Urban, to experience the rush of filming action scenes, with help from Universal’s stunt team at the studios of the Australian Film TV and Radio School at Fox Studios. June 2012 is the month of action at Universal Sony Home Entertainment, with three top action movies releasing on DVD and Blu-ray: Safe House, Contraband and Man On A Ledge. This is Sebastian's report - and FOOTAGE OF THE ACTION.

A few different thoughts flash through my mind as I stand facing my opponent on top of a crane. Surprisingly “Don’t hit him” is one of them. Surprising because I’m not a violent person, I don’t get into fights and I would have thought it’s much easier to not hit someone than the alternative. But having squared off against a punching bag or two in my lifetime, instinct tells you to aim, you know, at the target and it takes a conscious effort to miss him. What’s even harder is to make it look real, and that’s where science comes in.

"two different cues for depth perception; binocular vision, and distance"

Generally speaking, we take advantage of two different cues for depth perception; binocular vision, and distance. The fact that we have two eyes allows two slightly different image signals to make it into our visual cortex. The slight differences between these signals are what we perceive as depth. This is not what I was expecting to learn at an action hero training day, but Grant Page is one of the best stunt coordinators in the business and if he thinks this is important to know then it must be. The lesson circles back to the world of film; since the camera only has one eye, it can be easily fooled if you understand a bit about depth perception. So when throwing a right hook with the camera to your right, aim to the left of your opponent’s jaw. Remember to punch past the jawline, if you pull short the camera will see the gap.

There are many such tips to remember, and I’m sure that given enough practice it must become second nature. But my experience was that having to be constantly aware of where the camera was in relation to myself, and adjusting the angles of motion accordingly gave me an insight into what the white ball must feel in relation to the pool cue. It certainly helped to be surrounded by experienced professionals in the fantastic AFTRS recording studio.

"the most obvious element to film production is the scale"

Aside from the omnipresent cyclonic camera, the most obvious element to film production is the scale. More than a dozen crew were on hand to manage the all important lights, microphones, cameras, stage and props and various other technicalities that I still don’t understand. All for a 10 second fight scene. But the details matter; you might be able to fool the camera with some clever angles, but it only works when you have painstakingly set up the sound stage and all the equipment in it. 

The amazing thing about film, and stunts in particular, is that knowing how they’re created does nothing to diminish their impact. Jumping between two large tables while attached to a rope being pulled by two strong guys to provide lift is fun, but probably won’t generate a significant audience response. But then seeing how the sound stage, crew, pulley guys and green screen are all made invisible and now it’s a life or death jump between two rooftops - that’s truly incredible.

Sebastian Urban does NOT star in the following three June 2012 DVD & Blu-ray action releases:

SAFE HOUSE
Dir: Daniel Espinosa. Stars Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Robert Patrick, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson.
DVD REVIEW
Blu-ray extras:
• Making Safe House
• Hand To Hand Action
• Shooting The Safe House Attack
• Building The Rooftop Chase
• Behind The Action
• Inside The CIA
• Safe Harbor - Cape Town
• Picture In Picture
• Scene Explorer
DVD Extra:
• Behind the action of Safe House

CONTRABAND
Dir: Baltasar Kormákur. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, Robert Wahlberg.
DVD REVIEW
Exclusive to Blu-ray
• Deleted Scenes
• Under the Radar ‐ The Making of a Modern Action Thriller DVD extras:
• Reality factor: See how the stunt and special effects teams delivered a raw, action-packed movie
• Feature Commentary with director and producer Baltasar Kormakur and producer Evan Hayes

MAN ON A LEDGE
Dir: ASsger Leth. Stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris
DVD REVIEW

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SFX and Action Training film school hosted by Universal Sony Home Entertainment: the day involved all the training an action star undertakes, including explosions, combat sequences and stunt action.

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Getting ready for action.

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Sebastian Urban

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Sebastian ‘Action Man’ Urban’s program included:

* Combat demonstration and participation – Learning to fight like an action hero, with hand to hand combat sequences and staged fight scene training;

* Exploding Building demonstration - Escaping from an exploding building just in the nick of time, shooting against a green screen to create dramatic action footage;

* Man on a Ledge exercise – Leaping from one death-defying height to another while wired up on the ledge of a tall building - learning to re-create the dramatic scenes from Man on a Ledge.

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SAFE HOUSE DVD REVIEW

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CONTRABAND DVD REVIEW

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MAN ON A LEDGE DVD REVIEW

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