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DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT

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Todd Terry
DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 6:59:51 pm

It's great when you find something that works REALLY well, so I thought I'd pass this along.

I just directed a shoot for a automotive dealers' association and needed a car mount. I don't own any "real" car mounts, and have had limited success in the past with some suction cups I bought at Harbor Freight (they were actually pretty terrible and I wouldn't trust them at all).

It occurred to me that those suction-cup bathroom grab bars would have to be pretty strong, as I doubt the manufacturers want to risk a lawsuit from Granny falling in the shower. So, I zipped over to Home Depot and picked up a couple of these for $15 each...





They are AWESOME. They stick like crazy. In fact, they almost stick too good. Even after releasing the locking levers the cups are still stuck so firmly that it's difficult to remove them, even with the little lift-tabs on each. And they have red/green indicators that let you know the suction is good. A little bit of hardware and a scrap of plywood and I had a cheap and easy DIY car mount...





Ordrinarily I would have been very leery of using these to attach my camera to a moving surface without any strapping, etc., but I have 100% confidance in these. I'd clamp a baby to them at 60mph with no worries whatsoever (in a car seat, of course). In actuality... we only needed them for short shots at fairly low speeds, otherwise I certainly would put a strap on them. But as it was, they worked great and couldn't have been more solid if they had been bolted right through the sheet metal. It was carrying about 22 pounds (C300PL + Oconnor 50D head + bigass 18mm Leitz prime).

If interested, here is the finished spot which contains a couple of shots using it....




Works like a charm, best thirty bucks I've spent in a while.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 7:41:42 pm

NICE work! That looks National-level, no question!

I was curious about details on the flag shot at the end.


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Todd Terry
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 7:51:48 pm

Thanks Mark, appreciate the words...

What details were you curious about? That scene was a quickie down-n-dirty, snagged on one of our night locations...



T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 8:13:46 pm

Looks slick and very realistic for a key. Were the tracking marks any use in this one?


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Todd Terry
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 8:23:56 pm

The spikes were only used for background motion tracking in the closeup.

The wide shot has a slight move, too, but it was actually a locked-down shot with the fake camera move added in post... so the tracking spikes weren't actually needed there.

In hindsight we should have only put up a small greenscreen, just big enough to cover the talent... it would have made the composite a lot easier as there were a lot of green reflections around the edge of the car. They didn't really affect the key, it was still clean, but it did make parts of the car look green when they shouldn't be. We took care of those, but it would have saved a step to use a smaller screen. Live and learn, hindsight is 20/20 of course.

T2

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



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Rick Wise
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 4, 2014 at 9:21:02 pm

Ah Todd, another great piece from you. Inspired and inspiring. Terrific DIY car mount!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:24:53 am

Thanks Rick... I'm a suction-cup fan now.

I'm thinking of getting another set and putting some baby pins on it... might prove to be a convenient way to mount cutters and such in certain places... maybe even small instruments.

I might try cutting them in half so there's just one suction cup with a pin on it, for smaller things. For an application like that you could use the model that's a little shorter than the ones I bought (which were the long ones)... and the shorter ones are even cheaper. About 12 bucks I think.

Could be useful.

T2

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



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Joshua Fong
Re: DIY Car Mount - Works GREAT / Car Mount Safety for DIYers
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:05:50 am

Todd,

Nice ingenuity & great looking spot. Nice B roll & editing.

I'm not a physics major but I would remind any DIYers getting into vehicle mounts that it is not merely a question of can the suction cups support the static weight of the camera mount but whether it can hold down the mount in the event of a fast acceleration or deceleration.


Force = Mass x speed.


So if you had to stop suddenly, a 10 lb. or 20 lb. mount might become a 50 lb. or a hundred lb. mount or more depending on the weight and speed. It is important to know the load rating of each of the suction cups so you can do the math for the speeds you'll be working at.

Be very conservative, use extra cups, and always tie down for the safety of the gear and yourself, to say nothing of others on the road.

I find it helps a bit to paper tape around the edges of the cups to help seal off the vacuum. It seems to slow down the loss of suction.

Another issue I've experienced when driving with vehicle mounts is that they can be very distracting for the driver. I find having one person drive while another person monitors the mount to be more ideal.

I have also noticed that the car mount is distracting to other drivers on the road as well which may cause them to rubberneck so it pays to be even more vigilant in heavy traffic.

Direct hood mounts can also be problematic sometimes due to engine vibration so I find mounting to the roof of a car to be both more stable and less distracting. Two additional rods mounted to the top of the camera rig can help with harmonic vibrations.

Professional insurance is a good idea if you are out in traffic amongst other vehicles. If this isn't feasible, then it's best to shoot in as low-traffic areas as possible.


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