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Shooting a low-budget car chase

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Glyn Holmes
Shooting a low-budget car chase
on Feb 14, 2008 at 12:43:45 pm

Okay, I have looked and looked on google for some tips on this, and there seems to be nothing.
Outline:
- We're students, our budget is almost zero
- We've been given a Sony HDRSR12 so we can shoot in HD.
- We're shooting a movie about a painting heist

We need to shoot a car chase. Does anyone have any tips on how to go about this with our budget being so low? If you could point me to a tutorial about it I would be eternally greatful.

Also, we have access to anaglyph glasses, anyone have any neat ideas for that?

Thanks!


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Leo Ticheli
Re: Shooting a low-budget car chase
on Feb 14, 2008 at 1:24:11 pm

Car chase plus low budget equals dead people.

Are you on a campus where you can enlist the aid of school's police force to close/control streets? If not, you'll have to use clever editing to make things look like you're traveling at high speeds while barely avoiding collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians.

You still have the problem of not having accomplished stunt drivers and all the specialized car rigging.

I'm doubtful that this can be accomplished, but rent the classic car chase films, such as the "French Connection" and story board your film scene by scene. Then you can shoot it, cheating everything, perhaps using blue/green screen to put other cars in the windows. Maybe.

What you are suggesting leaves you open to criminal charges, law suits from hell, and possible a ticket to that very destination. Be aware that even professionals with virtually unlimited budgets have suffered tragedies with this kind of shooting.

I never want to dampen enthusiasm, but this one scares the heck out of me.

Good shooting and best regards,

Leo






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todd mcmullen
Re: Shooting a low-budget car chase
on Feb 14, 2008 at 9:06:54 pm

Man I agree with Leo.

I worked as a camera assistant on one of those Batman movies years ago, it was the one with Val kilmer. anyway, we shot most of the car footage at 18fps, and 20fps. Just to give the car a little more speed and excitement. But when I saw the movie I couldn't beleive how slow the car looked like it was going. So whats the point, not sure but quick cuts and shaky camera work will help.

Depending on where you live, you could scan the local police reports and possibly catch a good car chase, then go shoot some of the car going through traffic and intercut your own stuff. Highly unlikely circumstance but you are dealing with a highly difficult situation.

Good luck

Todd McMullen
Flip Flop Films
Austin
http://www.toddmcmullen.com


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Glyn Holmes
Re: Shooting a low-budget car chase
on Feb 14, 2008 at 10:13:09 pm

I would certainly not even consider a shot that would endanger anyone. We will be shooting it just driving normally down a street, but adding sound effects / different angles to make it look neat. any ideas for 3D stuff?

Thanks for the concerns guys, they were taken very seriously.



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Jay Summers
Re: Shooting a low-budget car chase
on May 6, 2011 at 9:19:29 pm

Well here's what we did, though this response is a couple years too late for your project it may assist someone else.

After some test shooting we discovered.

1. You don't need to go "fast"
2. It can be accomplished affordably and easily and most of all legally (depending on interpretation of the cop) If a cop stops you record it, then ask if he'll be in the film for you. If you aren't breaking any laws then he's stopping you out of curiosity. If he's game set up all your cameras on him going down the street from various angles.

Here's what we did. We utilized 2 Hero GoPro cameras, a Sony FX-1, and a Sony HDR-CX150. We opted for multiple cameras to reduce the number of times we needed to go through the sequence and still required 6-8 set ups to acquire the shots we needed.

After determining the number of cars needed, collecting the cars and drivers we had about a two hour meeting, going over the route, what the cars would do, when and how this would be executed. Coordination is very important.

Once on location we got set up. the FX-1 mounted in a "chase car", the GoPro's set up on lower fenders, quarter panels, hoods, trunk lids at various angles and the CX-150 for "in car" shots. We'd set up the cameras on the cars as needed gaining 3-4 POV's from each car for the sequence, set up the chase car in front or behind to get master shots. After running through this several times we also set up the FX-1 & CX-150 road side, eye level & curb level for another run through.

Mind you we never exceeded the speed limits, 35mph-45mph on a fender shot has a huge sensation of speed and close distance to other traffic, as does utilizing wide angles from hoods & trunks. More objects pass the lens in a short time frame. Tight Zoomed shots on specific vehicles also accomplishes this result, especially when panning.

Now comes the hard work, editing. The edit requires lots of intercuts, Foley and jump cuts. Be sure to get shots of Tachometers revving, Speedometers at high speed (a decent animator can fake this), clutches getting pushed/released, accelerator pedals pushed, brake pedals pushed, shifting gears etc. If any of the chase shots appear too slow they can be accelerated/zoomed/reverse zoomed in your software. The success of your car chase will be in presenting a sensation of speed, action & close proximity which, once you have your footage, can be accomplished in the edit.

Good Luck & Be Safe


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