“Muscle Memory without Emotion”: The Rise of the Action DP

by Peter D. Marshall

by Lawrence Ribeiro.


Shifts in technology and global film production over the last several years have greatly impacted action films. Technology like the Canon 5D changed the game. More affordable and smaller HD cameras, as well as cheaper editing systems, have enabled many stunt performers and cinematographers to collaborate on and innovate new images together. This in turn has created a recent hybrid in action movies — the action DP, someone who specializes in shooting action, with a background in cinematography and stunts or action of some sort.

I came to shooting action through my own personal background. For me, it was a love of being on the edge, where the adrenaline kept pushing me into more extreme situations. High-speed chases, conflict areas, heli-logging — these are situations where there are no second takes, and it’s not the world of make-believe.

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