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Shooting Car to Car... off road


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#1 Mike Marriage

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 02:27 PM

Hi guys,

I've shot from quad bikes etc off road before, but only on pretty smooth tracks. Has anyone shoot off road vehicles and have any advice about how it is best achieved and what limitations I need to put on the shoot. The camera may have to come off Steadicam and go on sticks but I'd like to keep some movement in there. I probably won't have access to specialist ATVs etc due to location so may have to soft mount or botch a hard mount.

The other option may be operating walking as normal and limiting the speed to my walking pace.

Any opinions/experiences?

Thanks

Mike
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#2 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 02:16 AM

There are a ton of variables here... I've been shooting for the last 18 hours and I cant type it all out now. Feel free to call me after 11am EST and I can give you the low down on how best get the shot's you need and stay safe while doing it.

305-606-6844... please wait to call until after 11am as I really need some sleep :D

mm.
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#3 John Buzz Moyer

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 02:39 PM

So Mike... after 18 hours of shooting... you get home and check the forum ? ... that's commitment.
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#4 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 03:40 PM

Mike--

I had an 18.5 hour day on Monday and I couldn't see the computer much less type after that one!

You should be committed!

Mike Marriage--You need to set limits as to how big a set of bumps you and your Steadicam rig and mount can handle as well as speeds that won't cripple you.

Another concern with large suspension travel demands--you need to be restrained so you are not floating above your camera platform and alternately crashing down and being flung about. Just because your arm range is 30" or so, that doesn't mean that situations could arise when the motion combines to double up the wrong way and snap the arm in two.

This is the same problem with boats in rough sea states. You need to be mounted as well. And I don't mean by a lovely PA or "background" player.

Think worst case scenario and set the limits below that to allow for "unexpected" developments.
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#5 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:27 PM

Well dedicated or a bit loopy, one of the two :blink: :blink: :blink: ...

About off road steadicam. First it's really important as Brant pointed out that you dont let the local grounds keeper who also happens to be a 'great' atv rider do the driving or the rigging. You wouldn't let him operate your steadicam and you shouldn't let him do the job of the grip or the stunt man. These guys get paid because they have a specific skill that they have practicing their whole life. They understand the inns and outs of the movie business and know the potential down side to a 'mistake'.

Ok, enough safty stuff! My biggest issue when I operate anything high speed or off road is not so much about the camera or steadicam but about how I'm attached to the vehicle. First I want to determine if there is a reasonable chance the vehicle could turn over, if so, dont get on. If you confident that it's not going to flip or fall off a clif or go into a lake, then you want to make sure you are properly attached. Now many grips or less experienced riggers will offer up the two point safty belt. It just doesn't work. It may keep you from falling off the bike but is does not keep you fixed enough to prevent you from leaning all over the place (after all there is no point in mounting yourself to the vehicle if you cant spend any of your energy on getting a great shot). I like a 5 point harness and I like at least one point to be an adjustable strap so you can tighten and loosen yourself.

As for vehicle's, I like something custom built for the job. You definatly strap yourself to anything that moves but something with a racing seat that is bolted to the vehicle will give you greater stability and a much better chance at getting a great shot.

I also almost always (maybe 99.99999% of the time) prefer to hard mount my rig to the vehicle. You have the option to position your self in ways that give you greater flexibility when your not attached to the rig. Also, it's much, much more comfortable to be vest free. It sounds like no big deal sitting at your computer, "na, it's only a few shots, I'll just tough it out" but after an hour of being strapped in and your bladder feels like it's going to burst along with all the disks in your lower back and your splean, you will really wish you could easily adjust your position without having to take the entire rig appart and dock.

When I shoot off a vehicle, I like to shoot (when I use my actual steadicam) in low mode. I find the director almost always wants to scrape the ground and it just seems to be a more dynamic shot when your a bit lower.

Finally, sometimes you can actually get a better shot hand held. I know a lot of steadicam operators hesitate to suggest not using their rig but depending on the shot it is sometimes easier, cleaner and safer to go hand held. In the same vein, sometimes just hard mounting the rig to the vehicle is a better bet. Just keep your options open when you are trying to figure out the shot.

Hope that helps and feel free to call with any specific questions.

mm.
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#6 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 10:35 PM

Now many grips or less experienced riggers will offer up the two point safty belt. It just doesn't work. It may keep you from falling off the bike but is does not keep you fixed enough to prevent you from leaning all over the place (after all there is no point in mounting yourself to the vehicle if you cant spend any of your energy on getting a great shot). I like a 5 point harness and I like at least one point to be an adjustable strap so you can tighten and loosen yourself.

Depending on the setup I often prefer a 2 point harness to a 5 point. For the 2 point to work comfortably you need something to lean against such as a piece of speedrail or a place to use your legs as leverage to keep you from going back and back support to keep you from going forward. This of course depends on a lot of factors and personal preference.

~Jess
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#7 Mike Marriage

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 01:53 PM

Thanks for all the tips guys! Very handy.

I'll let you know more if/when it happens.

Harness wise, I've done a lot out of helicopters and don't like to have my shoulders restricted, preferring being harnessed at just one point on my back. Also, as I film a lot of yachting, its essential to be able to release yourself quickly should you ditch! That hasn't happened...yet (touch wood).

I'm going to try and figure a hard mount as I've done hard and soft on road before and HATE soft mounting.
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#8 Will Eichler

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 04:58 PM

Mike,

Good luck with the upcoming shoot. The only advice I'd add to what is already here is I always insist on scouting the course myself. I also do this in the vehicle that will hold the Steadicam during the shoot. This will give you a much better idea of what you are facing specifically.

Good luck!

Will
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#9 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 08:56 PM

As far as harnesses go I would say atleast two points is usually going to be the way to go on a vehicle. With one point it is often very difficult to restrict your movement enough to keep you from being dragged if you fall off. If your leash is long enough to drag you being harnessed is most likely making you less safe than not having one at all. I often carry a pair of EMT shears just in case something where to happen that made it difficult to release myself.

~Jess
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