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Steadicam as the camera car


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#1 Andre Trudel

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:55 AM

I got a call from a producer friend of mine today. They want to shoot a spec car commercial and were wondering if a hard mounted steadicam would work as a good camera car.

I remember shooting a bicycle out of the van at the workshop and it worked great. Obviously safety, common sense and communication are key but I’m curious to know what speeds are not only safe but manageable to work in for this sort of thing? I have heard of atv’s at full throttle. What are some of your experiences?
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#2 Nils Valkenborgh

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 09:40 AM

Hi,

Since you're going to be working hardmounted it's perhaps a good idea to secure yourself properly. My max-speed experience is around 55 mph (90km/h),
which i considered to be pretty fast.

The greatest concern for me would be to sit down with both drivers to determine the minimum safe distance and maximum top speed you want to work with.
Should they exceed the speed or drive too close without your approval just take the steadicam back into the car and demand they keep your rules in account.

Of course you can enhance the feeling of speed by shooting with a wide-angle lens and having the subject car drive past faster than the camera car

Good Luck
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#3 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 12:15 PM

I woln't talk about the safety issue, I'll just say that steadicam is not the right tool for the job. For a car commercial, the best tool is pretty much a Russian arm. Next would be a Libra or some other stabilized head hard mounted. Third would be a camera car with a crane on it without a stabilized head, then a camera car with a hard mounted camera (on a fluid head). Then a mini van with a hard mounted camera and then it's a toss up between hand held and steadicam.

I've been doing steadicam since 1998 and making about 1/3 of my living shooting cars for the last 4 or 5 years. None of the car stuff is done with a steadicam. I have a car/action reel here: miamidp.com (go to recent work then 'HyperCam')

I use mostly my HyperCam rig that is purpose built for car stuff and then I go down the list that I gave above.

If you do decide to use steadicam, definitely go hard mounted. If Possible go low mode with the smallest possible post and if possible build a 'V' shaped wind barrier behind you with 4x double nets or something like that.

Good luck.
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#4 Andre Trudel

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 02:09 PM

Thanks Nils.

You’re absolutely right Mike, I would agree with your list. Great stuff with the hypercam by the way, it has a great high energy feel. I have been thinking a lot about a set-up I’ve seen where they had a simple hothead set-up on the back of a mini that really worked great for the car shots.

Unfortunately for this round of spec commercials, the clients are modification builders so needless to say it’s ultra low budget. They had shot some other footage hand held and where not happy with how unstable the footage looked.

My original idea was to go low mode hard mounted coming off the back of a van or truck but now that I’m thinking about it after your response the hard mounted camera (on a fluid head) might be the cheapest and most efficient way to go.

Thanks guys.
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#5 kelso kubat

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 10:45 AM

i did a shot like this recently where a guy comes out of a warehouse, gets on his harley and drives to another location, gets off and goes inside a second location. All one take. we had an SUV parked next to the harley and i just sat on the bumper while 3 guys held me in position. i have only tried a car mounted rig once, but have done a few of these walk-on sit-on type shots. have you ever tried doing a walk-on? a little harder but worth it!

Edited by kelso kubat, 03 August 2011 - 10:47 AM.

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#6 Martin Hawkes

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 11:18 AM

i just sat on the bumper while 3 guys held me in position.


Safety first
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#7 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 12:42 PM

Safety first

You kidding? A grade A bad-ass uses human arms instead of seatbelts. You go to Wikipedia, type in bad-ass, that's probably at least the second entry or something.
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#8 Martin Hawkes

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 05:29 PM


Safety first

You kidding? A grade A bad-ass uses human arms instead of seatbelts. You go to Wikipedia, type in bad-ass, that's probably at least the second entry or something.


Ha! Maybe it looked like this:Attached File  hand_belt.jpg   11.39KB   37 downloads
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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 02:18 AM

I woln't talk about the safety issue, I'll just say that steadicam is not the right tool for the job. For a car commercial, the best tool is pretty much a Russian arm. Next would be a Libra or some other stabilized head hard mounted. Third would be a camera car with a crane on it without a stabilized head, then a camera car with a hard mounted camera (on a fluid head). Then a mini van with a hard mounted camera and then it's a toss up between hand held and steadicam.



And I disagree. For Seven years I shot all of Ford's Running footage and I did it with a steadicam. Russian Arm and Libra heads are fantastic, it's there that I totally disagree with you. I'd put steadicam in front of all your other methods
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 12:27 PM

Can you elaborate, Eric? I would think the booming ability with the Russian arm or equivalent would be a clear advantage over the limited positioning of Steadicam for that type of application. I feel like I see plenty of running footage from inches-off-ground level, or with booming in the shot. Plus the stabilized head is not prone to acceleration-based wobbles like Steadicam (we all know what happens if one is pointed perpendicularly to the direction of travel and the driver guns it or taps the brakes).
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#11 LucasAdamson

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 08:29 AM

Cruise control on the shooting vehicle would make sense then.
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#12 Matteo Quagliano

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 12:18 PM

Hi Andre,

I did something similar and I was roped on a back of a van with the door open (sitting on my knees, ouch). Very very uncomfortable but I get the job done. I did use a climbing thing to tighten myself to the van, I suggest you make it easy to go with clip lockers, mine was not and each time we finish a shot I have to wait 5 minutes to be free. here's the video with some stuff not over 50 km/h.



Better choice is hard mount.
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#13 Enrique A Brown

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 05:31 AM

i did a shot like this recently where a guy comes out of a warehouse, gets on his harley and drives to another location, gets off and goes inside a second location. All one take. we had an SUV parked next to the harley and i just sat on the bumper while 3 guys held me in position. i have only tried a car mounted rig once, but have done a few of these walk-on sit-on type shots. have you ever tried doing a walk-on? a little harder but worth it!



Taking such a big one in one single take is appreciable. till now I did not tried walk on but soon I am going to do it.
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#14 Russell McElhatton

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:42 PM

The first question I would ask your producer is hard mounted to what? Second question would be what sort of vehicle? The most effective mount I have used for this sort of thing is a pee wee dolly. I have used this in both pickup trucks and mini vans. Pick ups are pretty limited, and the need be at the back to overhang puts the mount point over the back wheels, not the best place for a smooth ride. A minivan however has worked quite well on several occasions. I have not kept track of specific models, but sliding doors on both sides and removable seats which leave hardware to attach to are the important points. Fords have good hardware, there are some Dodge models that fold the seats into the floor leaving a large flat surface but nowhere to strap the dolly to. The dolly goes in ratchet strapped to the floor and I use a small offset on the leveling head to allow moving the garfield around to the best point for a specific shot. The dolly must be swapped to shoot out the back, bars back for the sides and bars forward to shoot out the hatchback. I shorten the rig to allow for more travel in the confined space (Cinema Products offered a "Car Kit" for model one Steadicams that made a comopact rig) and use gyros to lessen the effects of acceleration/deceleration and transmission shifts. The big bonus is that the enclosed space is an effective wind block without much additional work. I have added an 18" strip of foamcore wedged in the driver door or front passenger door as additional windbreak. I have not felt the need to add safety rigging for myself but have not done this as high speed or stunt work, I likely would tie off for that. I suppose this has worked for me up to about 30 mph.
All that said remember your driver is the de facto dolly grip/insert car driver and will control much of your success or failure with this, a choice as important as any equipment.
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