"First Contact", By Mark O'Kane
A great fast-paced shot following Jodi Foster out of her car, and into command central as she hears the signal from space for the first time. This is actually the blending of two separate shots: the exteriors and interiors being completely different locations. There is also a small crane step-off at the very beginning.
Comments by Don Burgess, ASC
Printed in The ASC Magazine
We did a shot in Contact where we needed to tie in the actual location, the VLA in New Mexico, with our set at Culver Studios in Los Angeles. The shot starts just after Ellie (Jodie Foster) first hears the signal from outer space and races back to the main building in her car, slides to a stop, hops out and runs into the building.
To achieve this shot, Mark Ocaine, the Steadicam operator, stepped off a Titan crane and chased her into the building, down a hallway, around two turns and through a set of doors where this shot ends. Ultimately, a morph blend starts the second half of the shot, which we shot in Los Angeles at a later date.
Because the shot is a blend into another shot, we needed a larger negative to work with Vistavision being the choice. We used the small lightweight Beaumont Vistavision camera that fits on the Steadicam.
The sequence takes place just before the sun comes up so we decided to shoot the whole scene before sunrise and after sunset for the soft, cool light, which only gives you about twenty minutes at each end of the day. We rehearsed and rehearsed until the light was right and then shot until dark, having to change the lighting density on the inside of the VLA control room on every take to match the dropping exposure outside--all at a panic pace. Fortunately, Jodi and the Steadicam operator, Mark, were great on all five takes so we were able to choose the best shot of the five we exposed.
Crane Step On/Off