Blackmagic Design - URSA Mini Pro 12K - On a Wing and a Prayer - Prime Video

Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro 12K camera was used to shoot ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’ (Prime Video), Sean McNamara’s latest film.

Christian Sebaldt (ASC) was the cinematographer appointed by Sean McNamara to head up the production of On a Wing and a Prayer, a film based on a true story of “faith and survival” that chronicles the experience of a family forced to make an emergency landing during a plane ride when the pilot dies in mid-flight.

The film would have several challenges that would make the production unique. One of these would be the use of the King Air 200 aircraft, which had to be adapted so that wings, tail, engines, cockpits and windscreens could be removed, giving more versatility in the choice of shots. The very nature of the aircraft added layers of complexity to the filming: the distance between the seats was a mere 25 centimetres, and the cabin was a mere 150 centimetres high.

In order to capture Sean McNamara’s creative vision, Sebaldt decided on three Blackmagic Design cameras: a URSA Mini Pro 12K and two Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. After exploring various possibilities, the DOP’s team was able to deploy the Mini Libra head mounted on a 9-metre telescopic crane inside the cockpit, with the windscreen removed, allowing access to the back of the plane to capture close-ups of several passengers. Another solution deployed was a rail mounted on the ceiling to capture close-ups of the actors in the cockpit or the possibility of shooting at very high resolutions in order to resize the angle afterwards. The On a Wing and a Prayer team were also able to use an additional URSA 12K unit at an airport to film sequences of the airport fire brigade sliding down the descent pole and capture the landing or movement of the plane.

Sebaldt, despite all the complications of the shoot, is particularly pleased with one shot: “Another shot I am very proud of and after working in there for a week never thought was possible, was an URSA Mini Pro 12K on a low profile fluid head with the fantastic ARRI Ultra Prime 8R lens on the floor in the back of the cabin. As the mom and her two daughters are praying in desperation, hoping for some ‘divine intervention,’ I wanted to do a 360° super low angle shot of their teary faces holding hands. With the help of my first AC Ryan, who was laying on the floor and slowly and continuously spinning the camera we got a very emotional and dramatic shot and it’s in the movie.”

Blackmagic Design - URSA Mini Pro 12K - On a Wing and a Prayer - Pocket Cinema Camera 6K - Prime Video

Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, in On a Wing and a Prayer

In addition to using the URSA Mini Pro 12K, Sebaldt’s team decided to use two Pocket Cinema 6K Pro cameras to shoot in the tightest of spaces: the cramped luggage compartment, where part of the plot unfolds, or between the mechanical components such as the propeller or rudder pedals. For the latter shots, the On a Wing and a Prayer cinematographer used an Innovision Prove II Plus lens, which ensured “extraordinary angles”.

Space and lighting constraints were a constant in the story’s development, but the Blackmagic RAW format helped maintain the quality standards sought by the Prime Video production. As Sebaldt comments: “Blackmagic RAW is quite amazing. The cameras have a fantastic dynamic capture range and sophisticated color processing. The images are indistinguishable from other high-quality cameras in the final cut, and the camera’s color science gives me plenty of dynamic range in color correction.”

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By • 24 Apr, 2023
• Section: Catchment