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Marc Chapuis
Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 12:38:01 am

Just want to pick everyone's brain on some ways to accomplish shooting some motorcycles from a moving car.

Here's the set-up. I want to be able to shoot a group of motorcyclists while they are cruising down highways, country roads, etc. I want to get shots from the car while I'm ahead of them and also while I'm behind them. I want something under or around 1K that will give me steady/smooth shots and some versatility as far as camera position if possible.

I've looked at Film Tools and their suction mounts as well as their hostess tray set-ups. I've also looked at the sticky pod as well as a some of the other suction cup solutions which all seem to be too shaky. I've also checked out the cinesaddle which seems to be smooth if attached to a hood or the outside of the car (I'd need a monitor to check my shots as we drove) but the strap system seems a little iffy.

My camera is a 7 lb or so Sony EX3. My real question is of all these solutions which if any would you recommend, there just seems to be so many ways to go? I hope I'm giving you all enough info.


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john sharaf
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 2:46:37 am

Hi Mark,

I was in France all summer shooting bicyclists in similar configurations and used an EX3 strapped to a sandbag on the hood and/or trunk. I used conventional motor cycle "ratchet" straps with great success to cinch the camera down on the sandbag pillow.

A monitor is necessary as you suggest in order to know when to roll.

With such a lightweight camera there's no particular advantage to spending money on commercial camera mounts, these would only be required for heavier cameras. Another great accessory is 2" "filament" tape to secure and safety, and it doesn't leave glue on the car surfaces. Also rubber matting which can be cut into appropriate sized pieces to protect the car from your rigging.

JS



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Marc Chapuis
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 4:49:37 pm

Sounds like a simple solution. How steady was your footage? Do you have to fix a lot in post?

One solution I was looking at was using a cine saddle but I wasn't sure how to get rear shots out the side window. I guess the only realiable way is to tie it down to the back and monitor from inside and do the same from the front for the reverse.

How about side shots out the window of a regular car? Using a bean bag or cine saddle or similar? Any suggestions?




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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 4:21:17 am

Get an inexpensive jib with a ten foot arm and mount it in the back of a pickup truck or build a platform coming off of a trailer hitch and have a steadicam guy ride on it. Before you tell me I'm goofy, we were the first guys to mount cameras in off-road cars for ESPN Speedworld.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Mark Suszko
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:25:42 pm

I would be afraid to suggest jibs on moving vehicles to people when I don't know their skill level. Getting these kinds of shots presents a lot of safety, legal, and liability issues, so it is smart to take a very safety-oriented tack. Most especially on public roads. And NEVER try to be a driver and cameraman at the same time, I don't care what friend Grinner tells you different about this, it is too dangerous. The driver drives. The cameraman can tell the driver to speed up or slow down, but on no account should the driver be doing anything but driving.

You can stabilize bumpy shots in post if you don't mind the extra time this will take. Probably you will end up doing some stabilizing in post no matter what you do on location. So budget time for that. And if you know you're doing stabilizing in post, you need to shoot a tad wider than normal to give the effect some room to work in.

If I had a real budget for this job, I would use something from these guys;

http://www.ken-lab.com/stabilizers.html

Mounted in a pintle mount, on a process trailer. If I couldn't afford the process trailer, I would mount it on a pickup or van. You have to know what local law enforcement thinks about this, else you risk getting stopped and ticketed. We shot stuff like your project from the back and side of a van once, with a "steadicam" made by suspending the camera and head in a web of bungie cords and rubber tie-down straps. This soaked up the worst bumps in the road.

I don't think you can rent the Ken-lab stabilizer for a grand or less, but you can check around to see.

What you *might* be able to afford is a lipstick cam to rent, and this is awesome for these kinds of jobs, because you can use foam rubber and gaffer tape to mount the things almost anywhere in very short time, like bumpers, wheel wells, roofs, a short length of PVC tubing jutting off the car, etc. and you can do multiple setups with the lipstick in several different spots in the time it takes to rig one conventional camera shot. You can put the lipstick on the bikes themselves too. With a short cable, the deck can be put in a safer location than the camera head; should something go wrong, you still have the tape.

Whatever you do, PLEASE, safety FIRST!





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Ken Zukin
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 4:58:51 pm

I would use your EX-3 to get all the stationary shots you need, and buy a Sony HXR-MC1 for all the moving footage. I have one (Sony lipstick camera), and it's a joy to use. I simply attach it to an audio boom pole -- make sure you buy the wide-angle lens adapter. The whole package was about $3K. The camera head has 3 chips, and will intercut reasonably well with your EX-3. Someone with a critical eye can tell the difference, but the applications are so different (moving vs. stationary) -- you should be OK.

I'll also chime in about safety: if anything catastrophic happened, your career can be impacted, both financially, and reputation-wise. So, if you have control over the situation, make sure you do your filming on semi-deserted roads.

Here's a link to the little Sony lipstick camera:

http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId...


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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 6:53:05 pm

Only to present another option:

You can hire a steadicam op with a vehicle mount for 1K and get versitily and flexibilty.

Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 6:54:48 pm

Forgot to post the picture:



Emre Tufekci
http://www.productionpit.com



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Marc Chapuis
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Sep 30, 2009 at 7:22:06 pm

Emre - Awesome photo. Wow.

Some great comments everyone. Thanks so much. I have a lot to chew on. I think I'll try the bean bag cine saddle option first since its so inexpensive and I can keep the gear if it works or maybe rent a van to in addition to get side shots. If worse comes to worse I could hire a steadicam operator.

I was thinking of getting the small HD lipstick camera as was pointed out for on board shots but hadn't thought out using it from the car. My only trepidation with using the EX3 is possible rolling shutter problems on but this the POV cam might make up for that or I could get one of those Nano Flash boxes that pump up the bit rate and smoothes the RS problems out. I'll have to def shoot some test footage whatever I do.

I will be shooting this type of footage for a self financed proposal so it needs to look good but I also need to keep costs down as well. You guys have given me a few options.

If anyone can think of anything else chime in.

Thanks again.




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Rick Amundson
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:25:33 am

I own both the CineSaddle and the StickyPod. Both are viable options if you are looking for locked down shots. The straps on the CineSaddle are plenty strong. I have used SR3, DVCPro and miniDv cameras traveling at decent speeds with that system with great success. Just follow the directions for tying it down!

The StickyPod also works really well. I used it with a Red on a pickup truck in the UP of Michigan in January and had no problems. It holds amazingly well. My only advice is to use 4 cups instead of 3 to attach it to the vehicle for extra stabilization. For the price, I can't say enough about that system. I can send photos if needed.

All of that said, you don't get any pan or tilt with those rigs. If you need to pan and tilt, try screwing a high hat to a full apple box, then strapping that to the tailgate of a pickup. Or just use your tripod with the spreader fully extended then strap it in and weight it down with LOTS of sandbags. Then rent a stabilizing lens to help with the vibration. You can comfortably operate as you drive around the motorcycles.

I have done all of these with various levels of success.

Best of luck!

Best of luck!

Rick Amundson
Producer/Director/DP
Screenscape Studios
Bravo Romeo Entertainment
http://www.screenscapestudios.com
http://www.bravoromeo.com
http://www.indeliblemovie.com


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Morton Molyneux
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:43:17 pm

Hi Mark,

I have a Cine Saddle as well as a suction cup mount that I put together myself from 3 RAM Mount (UNPKD RAM SUCTION MOUNT TWIST LOCK Product Number: RAM-B-166U) http://www.ram-mount.com/ plus a mount plate that I had a local machine shop make for me. I'll attach a photo. I've used it with the Sony MC1 mounted on the dash (photo) roof and hood. Also used it on the hood and roof with a Z1U. It's strong enough to hold my XDCAM HD for low level shots but I don't think I'd use it that way on a vehicle.

I find it a bit quicker than setting up the CineSaddle with the Z1U, plus it has lots of adjustment so it's easy level.

From the outside when I'm using it on the dash with the MC-1 it looks a lot like a police radar unit and I find other drivers tend to slow down as they go by.

cheers

Morton





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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Oct 4, 2009 at 5:56:25 pm

Interesting! Looks like the rig I described earlier.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:54:20 pm

I guess I should have included a bit more detail with my original post concerning safety issues but I understood from Marc's original post that he is a safety minded individual and not an idiot. I would do all sorts of crazy things that I would never suggest to anyone less than a stunt man (stuntperson).

Make everything rock solid - no cushioning whatsoever. A rubber mount will vibrate everything but a Cine-Saddle will cushion everything.

Have you got a friend that is a Key Grip? If not, find one and get his advice. A good key grip will own hostess trays and every mount in the book. He may even help you if he's that kind of guy. I get suckered into this kind of stuff all the time but I do it as a personal challenge and to help others get started. It's not always about money.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Steve Wargo
To Clarify
on Oct 1, 2009 at 6:33:45 pm

A rubber mount will allow the camera to shake and vibrate, ruining the camera and the shot. A CineSaddle is an excellent support for any camera.

Now, shooting a group of motorcycles is very cool but very dangerous. Do not take any chances. Let's hope that the riders are experienced and know what to do. If some of them are new, make sure they ride in single file. I was knocked of a Harley in April of '06, broke or fractured 25 bones and I'm still recovering. It happens very fast.

Some years ago, a group of us were on a ride and I had my wife sit in my lap and shoot back toward the group as we passed them. Awesome shot. Not many shooters want to sit in a dudes lap, if you know what I mean.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Mark Suszko
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 2, 2009 at 1:39:51 am

Steve a real man would have let the wife steer while he sat backwards with the camera on the B**** seat
:-)
(If you never saw the King of The Hill episode about Sturgis, you need to)


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Steve Wargo
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 2, 2009 at 10:06:45 am

[Mark Suszko] "King of The Hill episode about Sturgis"

Now I'm on a quest for the "real" way to do it. Thanks Mark. You'll make a man out of me yet.

My wife did have her own Harley for a while. It didn't have a back seat or a B**** seat.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Todd Terry
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 2, 2009 at 5:02:53 pm

[Mark Suszko] "If you never saw the King of The Hill episode about Sturgis, you need to"

Classic...

Hank: It just doesn't work that way with biker couples. Lumpy and Pepperoni Sue have a great relationship, and she never rides up front. In fact, the spot behind the driver is called the...er..."bitch seat."

Peggy: What? So then that makes me a --

Hank: No! It's a motorcycle term, I don't even think it's spelled the same.

No wonder my better half won't ride with me on any of my bikes (I bought her a Vespa to get her used to two wheels... which she loves... but still won't ride with me two-up).

I've seen footage taken from a motorcycle where a rear-passenger was shooting, but sitting backwards on the bike. I've always been intrigued by that, but afraid to try it. Looks a bit dangerous.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Tim Kolb
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 2, 2009 at 6:04:51 pm

[Todd Terry] "I've seen footage taken from a motorcycle where a rear-passenger was shooting, but sitting backwards on the bike. I've always been intrigued by that, but afraid to try it. Looks a bit dangerous."

I'm scheduled to reunite with my favorite bike driver for just such a shoot later this month. I've shot multiple marathons for ESPN this way...and that was with massive betacams. My EX1 should make the whole thing much easier.

If you're not afraid of bikes and have a driver you can trust, it doesn't feel all that dangerous.

We did have an incident where a car pulled out in front of us (illegally) onto the marathon course and we had to make an emergency stop...which wouldn't have been a big deal, but I had gone to semi standing in the passenger pegs to absorb some of the rough road. Bob knew what was behind him, kept it steady and upright and when we stopped we looked like some sort of acrobat act with me arched backwards over his back, holding onto the lense on the betacam hanging down in front of him. We re-organized and continued on.

I'll be on the California speedway this time out...that should make it interesting. Anybody know of someone with a well-maintained bike on the order of an 84 GoldWing (the side bags need to come off) or smething with a short sissy bar (videographer retainment bracket) on the back who wants to rent it for a couple days?





TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Steve Wargo
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 4, 2009 at 5:54:06 pm

[Tim Kolb] "my favorite bike driver"

Actually, we "ride" bike and "drive" cages (cars). Bought my first bike in '63 and first Harley in '68.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

Ask me how to Market Yourself using Send Out Cards


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Tim Kolb
Re: To Clarify
on Oct 5, 2009 at 1:22:18 am

Well...yes, I get that, but what is the difference between me "riding" on the back, facing the rear and shooting and the guy who is steering, shifting, braking etc...?

We're both "riding" no? ...or am I "passengering"?




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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John Cummings
Re: Shooting From a Car
on Oct 2, 2009 at 2:17:21 pm

If you want mounted options, you'll limit your opportunities for cool angles.

If I were you. I'd rent a minivan that has sliding doors on both sides (as well as the big hatch in the back) Put a wide angle zoom on that camera and shoot out all the doors. Be sure to strap yourself in safely...then get the bikes to come as close as is safe, then you can reach out and get cool shots and angles from three sides of your "camera car." No mounted camera will give you as many good shots in the same amount of time. The key is going wide and being close!

J Cummings
Cameralogic/Chicago
cameralogic.tv
HDX-900/HDW-730S/DXC-D50


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