Ambulance (Technical) Movie Review: Those Aerial FPV Shots Are F****** Amazing! – YMCinema

First, Michael Bay’s Ambulance is one of the most entertaining action flick currently screened in theaters. Bay’s goal is to grant super solid action to the audience, and the mission was indeed accomplished. Second, the movie is loaded with ultra-cool aerial FPV sequences which make you dive into the Bayhem. We watched it, and loved it! Our conclusion: Leave your brain in the car, and go have a great time! Read on our technical review.

BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

In many situations, Bay just took the camera and run with it. Without stabilizers, without a gimbal, just sprinting with the camera in his hands. However, that looks cool as hell.

Before getting into the theater to watch Ambulance, you should leave your brain in the car. You can pick it up after the movie. This is not a bad thing though. Don’t try to find a meaningful story here. Michael Bay’s Ambulance is 99.9% action and 0.1% story, and that’s completely OK. We have enough drama in our real lives. Thus, disconnecting from the wisdom of life is pretty much welcomed here. Sure, Ambulance has a plot, but it shouldn’t matter. You are here for the action, and that’s all you are going to get: A (VERY) fine action. So keep that in mind (before leaving it in the car).

BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

There are almost zero ‘regular’ shots in Ambulance. Many shots are lower, higher, and hero (shots) in which the camera is just circulating around the object without any connection to the story.

We wrote tons of articles about it. Ambulance is the first film that is screened in theaters and is heavily based on aerial FPV shots. Aerial FPV (First Person View) is a technique that has become very popular in the last two years. We define it as ‘Cinema FPV’ which means, attaching a cinema camera to an FPV drone. In Ambulance, the RED Komodo was paired with an FPV drone which allowed super crazy shots. Ambulance is the first film screened in the theater (post-COVID era) that extensively utilizes this technique. That means, Ambulance can be used as a reference/case study, or a test if you’d like, to verify and explore how these intensive shots actually look in cinema and how moviegoers will react to them. Well, we can confirm that the FPV sequences look amazing on the big screen. We watched the movie in a big Dolby Atmos theater (not an IMAX – we don’t recommend you to watch it in IMAX), and all we can say is that those f****** insane shots look amazing. The Komodo footage really looks great on a big screen and combined with an FPV drone, it makes you dive into the heart of the action. Watching it on a big canvas dramatically elevates its immersiveness.

The Aerial FPV system that was used in Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
The Aerial FPV system that was used in Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

Ambulance can be used as a reference/case study, or a test if you’d like, to verify and explore how these intensive aerial FPV shots actually look in cinema and how moviegoers will react to them.

Bay doesn’t give a damn. He uses his beloved camera movements. There are almost zero ‘regular’ shots in Ambulance. Many shots are lower, higher, and hero (shots) in which the camera is just circulating around the object without any connection to the story. And that’s cool (have you left your brain in the car yet?). Furthermore, the Super 35 sensors of the Bayhem Digital Cinema Camera (Helium and tones of Komodos) produce super closeups like Bay loves. So there you go Intense closeups, hero shots, low/high camera angles, and movements… a lot of movements. But hey – it’s just the Bay’s formula to proper action cinematography. In many situations, Bay just took the camera and run with it. Without stabilizers, without a gimbal, just sprinting with the camera in his hands. However, that looks cool as hell. Also, if you are familiar with Bay’s style you will recognize his cinematography techniques, like shooting through a hole, using similar shots more than once, and so on. Bay knows that a winning horse should never be replaced.

BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

Bay knows the significant impact of good sound on his movies. He once said that sound constitutes 50% of the whole film. Hence, Ambulance’s sound was well assembled and designed.

Like most of Bay’s films, Ambulance is no exception. Relatively, Ambulance holds a minimal amount of VFX shots. All explosions are real. Real cars, real explosives, real mayhems. With a very limited budget of $40M, there wasn’t room for an expensive VFX division. The budget limitation is something that can be noticeable, as this is not a Michael Bay film that we got used to. Ambulance lacks the high dose of SFX to be spilled into the big screen, plus exotic locations around the world are absent. However, a good and real action inside L. A can be very satisfying as well.

BTS of Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
BTS of Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

All explosions are real. Real cars, real explosives, real mayhems. With a very limited budget of $40M, there wasn’t room for an expensive VFX division.

BTW, the aerial FPV shots we talked about, complement the marvelous aerial shots crafted by the great motion picture helicopter pilot, Fred North, which is Bay’s cinematic partner for flying cameras. The helicopter shots are truly amazing. In fact, every methodology has its own place here. A drone can’t and shouldn’t replace a real helicopter which has the ability to lift heavy lenses and allows the crafting of accurate action sequences from above.

The RED Helium Bayhem in Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
The RED Helium Bayhem in Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

Ambulance is a hell of a flick. Pure brainless entertainment (in a good way), extreme action cinematography, perfect utilization of a movie theater, an optimal combination of a big bowl of popcorn with a soda.

Last but not least is the sound design. Bay knows the significant impact of good sound on his movies. He once said that sound constitutes 50% of the whole film. Hence, Ambulance’s sound was well assembled and designed. If you can, watched the movie in a Dolby Atmos theater as we did. The well-built sound really makes the movie much more immersive. You should not count on the soundtrack though as it’s pretty dull. The soundtrack is similar to Bay’s 13 Hours (at least in the end scenes) but a lot less. Nevertheless, the sound design covers that.

BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance.  Picture: RED Digital Cinema.
BTS of Michael Bay shooting Ambulance. Picture: RED Digital Cinema.

Directed by Bay and shot by Bay (and cinematographer Roberto De Angelis), Ambulance is a hell of a flick. Pure brainless entertainment (in a good way), extreme action cinematography, perfect utilization of a movie theater, an optimal combination of a big bowl of popcorn with a soda. We loved it! Let’s end the article with a short BTS video made by RED Digital Cinema regarding some of the cinematography techniques used in Ambulance.

Have you watched Ambulance? Let’s know your opinion about it!

Product List

Here’re the products mentioned in the article, and the links to purchase them from authorized dealers.

  • RED Digital Cinema Komodo 6K

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