Directed by Valentin Petit, the globe-hopping “Squad Up” spot for the hotly anticipated video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II assembles a star-studded cast supported by a visual style that takes its cues from the action in each environment. “It’s an eclectic and kinetic mix of styles and camera modes, all coming together in an anthem,” says cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, whose credits also include such features as A Ghost Story and The Long Dumb Road. “I tried to listen to each location or scene and not force too heavy of an overarching look on it so each location and celebrity could have their own feel.
“Primarily I was inspired by Valentin’s work,” Palermo continues. “He’s such an electric, enthusiastic director. He brings a lot to the table, so I looked to do things that would make him excited and to help facilitate his ideas — no matter how challenging.”
The cinematographer turned to Panavision Woodland Hills to source an equipment package that would support his approach to the spot. Working with marketing executive Mike Carter, Palermo landed on a collection of H Series spherical primes and T Series anamorphics complemented by a selection of zooms. “I’ve worked with Panavision and Mike Carter for almost 10 years now, and they’re always my first stop,” Palermo shares. “I love Panavision’s service and their glass. Knowing that I can get characterful optics worldwide was important to me on this one, as I knew we were shooting in multiple countries.
“I’ve used the H Series a few times now,” he adds. “They have a lot of character when you open them up all the way, and they’re also lightweight and small, which I love. It bothers me when camera builds get so large and unwieldy; I like to be able to movie quickly and be nimble wherever possible. Plus I operate, so the weight on my body becomes a concern. Sometimes size is unavoidable though, and you end up with a giant camera — as we did in the Faze Clan scene with a giant zoom.”
Finding inspiration for the wide-ranging projects Palermo takes on is no challenge for the cinematographer. “Inspiration is never far for me,” he affirms. “I often still feel like a kid. I love what I do, and it’s an absolute privilege to make a living doing it.”