Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Back Seat Camera Mount

Published : 8th December 2003


Phew . . .emerging from the heated debate over my incendiary comments about the 5298, I have a slightly less controversial question.

The background for this query . . .

I'm about to film time lapse driving sequence using either the Panavision Pan Arri III with a Norris Intervalometer or an older Mitchell. Either way, we'll most likely be using a C-30 anamorphic lens or one of the older HS lenses. Also, I'd like to run a 1000' mag if possible.

I'd like to place the camera in the middle of the backseat and frame the shot such that the driver's seat is frame left and the passenger's seat is frame right. In the middle would be the vista of the open road. However, due to the nature of the time-lapse shot (many hours of driving), I want the framing to stay as consistent as possible.

That said, I'm wondering what sort of rig people would suggest I use to plant the camera in the backseat (at roughly the eye level of the driver and passenger)? Is their a piece of inexpensive equipment I can rent to secure the camera or would everyone suggest rigging my own solution?

I'm not averse to rigging up my own "backseat tripod" using things like sandbags, bungee cords and so on, but if there is an inexpensive mount or another solution, I'd love to hear about it.

Any thoughts?

Josh Gronsbell



For an extended time-lapse shot such as this, I'd get out the socket wrench and remove the backseat completely. Then I'd screw together a wood platform and bolt it directly to the vehicle. Use the bolt holes from the removed seat. Then throw some sandbags on the structure to keep it stable and take the strain off the bolts.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Mitch Gross wrote :

>Then I'd screw together a wood platform and bolt it directly to the >vehicle.


Solid advice Mitch. Seat belt attachment points are really solid. Get acquainted with Pep boys or your local auto parts store counter man. Bolts for said attachment points are fairly standard. if you need a couple of brackets welded give me a call.

Mark Smith
Oh Seven Films
143 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07302



I wish I could take out the backseat. Unfortunately, I'm driving the car cross country because I recently moved from NYC to LA. So since the car will be my primary mode of transportation in Los Angeles, I can't very well remove the backseat and leave it in NYC. Alternatively, I'd prefer not to rent a trailer.

That said, I need to figure out some way to situate a Pan Arri III with a 400' or larger mag in the backseat of a 1998 Audi A4.

I know I've seen many films in which the camera was placed in the backseat of an ordinary, moving passenger car and it remained remarkably level as though it were mounted on a tripod. Surely, there must be a company out there that makes camera mounts for car interiors.

Josh Gronsbell



>I know I've seen many films in which the camera was placed in the >backseat of an ordinary, moving passenger car and it remained >remarkably level as though it were mounted on a tripod.

More likely a skilled grip with a Makita and some lumber. If you can't remove the seat, make platform extensions to wedge against the hard solid surfaces of the car. This means struts that extend down to the floor and onto the rear panel just in front of the rear window, and perhaps some side wings to extend out to either side of the vehicle. You basically want to spider out from the centre so that there's no room for the camera mount to move anywhere. It can be as simple as a hi-hat on a board or apple box, but then screw sticks of wood in every possible direction until you hit solid resistance. Throw sandbags on as well and that rig won't go anywhere. Don't expect to be able to stick any luggage in the back seat though.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



>wish I could take out the backseat.

Buy a roof luggage rack, attach it to the top of your car, detach the backseat and carry it strapped onto the roof luggage rack. Then do as Mitch first suggested. No problemo.

Arturo Briones-Carcaré
Filmmaker
Madrid (Imperial Spain)



>. . .Is their a piece of inexpensive equipment I can rent . . .I'm not averse >to rigging up my own "backseat tripod" using things like sandbags, >bungee cords and so on . . .

This is a job for a grip. There are dozens of ways to do this for any given camera, car and position. An experienced grip will be able to make the shrewd choices needed to build an elegant rig that satisfies the unique requirements of the job.

One thing to keep in mind is how *stiff* you want the rig to be. Do you want it bonded to the frame? Or, would you prefer something that might absorb some HF vibration? There can be quite a difference in how the camera vibrates. And in which axis the rig has some HF dampening.

Don't forget...You are not just making safe here. The rig you build are the *hands* that will hold this shot.

What are you doing about security for the camera? Just curious...

David Perrault, csc



I was on HACK most of last season and we used a Bazooka mount a lot. If your "back" seat area is usable it works great.

Gerry Brigante
IA 600



I would suggest going to a thrift shop and trying out an old child car seat. It should be possible to modify it to take all of the back seat belts and/or bungee cords, ropes, etc. thus possibly avoiding an excess of 2x4s and whatnots.

This would give you a place to bolt some Dexion pieces to provide for a camera mount...or sandbags strapped-in with the camera on top.

Alan Burleson
Citra, Florida