Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
Car Mounts For HD Cameras
Published : 12 December 2004
>I've got to mount a VariCam behind the drivers and passengers seats to view out the windshield. I'm thinking of cobbling up a couple of baby seats to fit into the back seats and rig some sort of mounting platform between them.
>Is there any rig that will do what I want so I don't have to create one from scratch?
>By the way, the car will be on a road racing track, and not at modest speeds and turns.
class="Paragraph">>I've got to mount a VariCam behind the drivers and passengers seats to >view out the windshield.
>Is this a road car or a race car? HUGE difference. On a road car forget the baby seats and use three super suckers. One on each rear quarter window and one on the rear window. The rig up a speed rail rig between them. If it's a race car mount to the roll cage.
class="style7">>By the way, the car will be on a road racing track, and not at modest >speeds and turns.
>Trust me a baby seat will not cut it. Also you want as few accessories on the camera as possible to reduce it's mass.
>If you can I'd start looking for a small lipstick HDCam and outboard recorder, it's going to make your life MUCH easier.
>Eric Fletcher SOC.
>I used to race for a living and teach for Skip Barber Racing school Steadicam/"A" camera Operator<
LA, CA USA
class="style7">>Is there any rig that will do what I want so I don't have to create one from >scratch?
>Do it right, with hard mounts or real good super suckers. Seat belt/shoulder harness anchor points are always good to use as long as it does not compromise a seat belt for an occupant.
>Think about g forces ahead of time before they become "Gee...forces" if you know what I mean.
>A car like this can generate +.80 g cornering either direction, some fraction of neg g cresting a hill, probably close to 1 G in decel if the brakes and tires are good.
>Read & understand rule # 1 of race tracks: Everything on a racetrack is a total write off. It doesn't always come to pass, but that really doesn't change rule #1.
class="style7">>I've got to mount a VariCam behind the drivers and passengers seats to >view out the windshield.
>Lots of variables
Is it a 4 door?
>Can you pull the back seat out?
>If yes, then consider using baby legs and strapping the tripod down to the seatbelt mount points. You could also cut a piece of plywood to fit where the seat was and screw a high hat or tripod to it.
>If no, you have some tough choices - you might consider cutting a piece of ply that fits over most of the seat (and wedges in) or even a piece of ply that covers the whole seat and cantilevers forwards to fill the area over where the rear seat passenger's feet would go.
>You could then build little legs out of 2x4 or whatever that go from the front of the shelf to the floor in three or four places across the front and bag the shelf heavily AS WELL AS strapping it down if possible. From this platform, you can now build up with a high hat or apple boxes and a high hat chances are that baby legs will be too high, but maybe not - drill little holes for the tripod feet to sink into and tie the tripod down to a screw eye screwed into the center of the wood.
>The reason you want to use a big shelf and to bag it so heavily is to spread the load over all that foam rubber and then compress the cushions as much as possible so they don't shift as the car drives...the bigger the plywood, the less shift you get from the same number of inches of deflection of the foam. If the shot is not an operated shot but a lock-off, use a rigging head if it is available to you rather than the fluid head that you normally use with the cameraâ€¦secure the camera additionally by blocking up under the back of the camera and the front or using short arms, mag clamps or similar and maybe a 3/8" bolt or 5/8" pin with a 3/8" threaded stud going through the hole in the carry handle of the camera as another tie-off point
>Rent a battery belt so when you can't get the camera back far enough with the rear battery attached, you can take it off: and slide back a bit.
>Unless you have the time to mess around a lot, you should try to hire a grip to work out the base.
>Note : I am suggesting wood instead of aluminium because it is strong, easy to cut, cheap, and you can attach to it without special fittings - if you have someone available to do all this with Speedrail and flanges and stuff, you probably aren't asking us for advice.
>I am also assuming that you are not allowed to drill holes in the car
>If you build the rig with doubled up 3/4 ply screwed together, you can now use lag-bolts to hold the high hat onto the wood - be sure not to screw through into the top of the seat upholstery - they HATE when you do that.
>Speed is not much of an issue, but cornering forces ARE - if you are going to be sliding around, then don't rig on top of the seat as the cushions will flex too much - make sure you can pull the back seat pan out so you can rig to hard stuff.
Wood is strong - they build trees out of it.
class="style7">>I've got to mount a VariCam behind the drivers and passengers seats to >:view out the windshield.
For reasons that have nothing to do with reality, I was under the impression that this is a normal passenger car, not a race car - if you are talking about a race car at race speeds, disregard everything I said about wood and all that - rig to real hard points, using the services of a grip with some experience at this sort of thing...
...if performance driving is involved, you have additional liabilities - it is not good enough that the camera be able to get the shot, you need to make sure that it doesn't hurt anyone.
>Mark H. Weingartner wrote:
class="style7">>..if performance driving is involved, you have additional liabilities - it is >not good enough that the camera be able to get the shot, you need to >make sure that it doesn't hurt anyone.
>Think about your 23 pound camera suddenly being loose in the passenger compartment of the car. Suddenly its a real hazard.
>My experience is that it usually happens at the worst time. Mark W might independently confirm that.
>As a side note, I still wonder how film cameras were mounted to the top of formula one cars on a documentary I saw re-run on Speedvision a few years ago. (Was it Masters of Motorsport? Can't remember) Anyway, the cameras were mounted above the driver's head on the little roll bar, offering a magnificent view. The years were between 1978 and 1983-85 more or less. You could see the Tyrell w/ twin front axles, and many shots of Monaco and the tunnels(w/ film's amazing latitude)â€¦
>Also some nice sound, 12 cylinder and turbo days...
>As for the 911,(I've driven my friend's turbo, what a car...)some people remove the back, seat and they also fold down. Baby legs as someone suggested would be a cheap possibility perhaps, strap it down and use sandbags(not so much a problem if the car is now gutted w/ cage and nothing but a driver's seat.
>Try to get a day or two before to see what it looks like before you try to rig it.
>John"hey that's my favorite car"Babl
>*Saw Porsche's 16 cylinder normally aspirated engine at the museum in Stuttgart(I believe it was experimented with in '69-'70 but abandoned in favor of the 12 cyl twin turbo engines on for the 917's)
>What I'd do is get a really good car grip and let him deal with it. I'd hate to have a big camera bouncing around the inside of a car on a race track.
>Also remember that the lens should be secured as well if it's a heavy zoom. B4 mounts aren't known for handling excessive G-forces.
Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
Dramatic License #CA14886
>The way that I've seen grips do a rear seat rig (although not in a Porsche) for me is to remove the the seat and back, use the holes and dips in the metalwork to position tripod legs and use ratchet straps hooked onto the metalwork to tie the whole lot down. Then they use Manfrotto magic arms and safety ties to the back of the car.
class="style7">>(Was it Masters of Motorsport? Can't remember)
>I meant to write Legends of Motorsports, perhaps that's what it was..."Masters" seems like a word reserved for lighting and painting...
>Many thanks to all! I've had adventures with mounting cameras on roller coasters, so I understand the liabilities.
>The 911 will not be rollbar/cage equipped, so we'll have to create something. The Super Suckers idea sounds like the way to go. Iâ€™d love to hear recommendations on an experienced car rigger in the Southeast.
>Thanks again to all!
class="style7">>... use three super suckers. One on each rear quarter window and one >on the rear window. The rig up a speed rail rig between them. If it's a >race car mount to the roll cage.
>Great advice, Eric (still have your S6??). Some of us motorheads have good instincts about the g-forces these cars experience. Not only side to side but front to rear as well. It cannot be overstated.
>IMHO speed rail (or steel) is the only way to go in an automobile such as this either with race mods or stock. Get an truly experienced and safe car rigging grip for such a rig otherwise it can get ugly very quickly.
>Jim Sofranko wrote :
class="style7">>Great advice, Eric (still have your S6??). Some of us motor heads have >good instincts about the g-forces these cars experience. Not only side >to side but front to rear as well. It cannot be overstated.
>Yup still have the S4 (Lot's and lot's of Mods and it's making big Horsepower)
>I saw that someone posted that you should expect to see .8g and that would be low, very low.
>On a track even with moderate tires a well driven 911 will make 1.3G's in the corners (2.6 translational) but that's not what your building for your building for the crash so that mount needs to be good for 20G's....
>That's why I suggest that you go with a lipstick camera and not a fullsize.
>Get a GOOD car Rigger
>Eric Fletcher SOC
Former Pro Racer
Steadicam/"A" Camera Operator
Los Angeles, CA USA
>Jim Sofranko wrote :
class="style7">>IMHO speed rail (or steel) is the only way to go in an automobile such >as this either with race mods or stock. Get an truly experienced and >safe car rigging grip for such a rig otherwise it can get ugly very quickly.
>It should be mentioned that sand bags and the like could seriously f@%# the balance of the car in a performance situation as well as adding to the oops factor in an accident situation. If the driver is in a Porche on a track I'm guessing he's going to drive rather speedily and you'd want as hard a mount as possible, as well as a small and sturdy camera.
There was a good thread here about this some months ago in which Bill Bennett (I think) mentioned an HD camera's tape transport going funny under g force. It was suggested that a 16mm film camera be used and that's a good idea. Check the archives, it was a great thread.
>The key to safety and success here is taking all CML advice with a grain of salt - if only because none of us can see the whole scenario - and hiring an very experienced rigging grip to work this out for you on the track.
ICG, New York
>Anders Uhl writes :
class="style7" >It should be mentioned that sand bags and the like could seriously >f@%# the balance of the car in a performance situation
Not to mention that the 911 is already rear heavy(rear engine) so sand bags would indeed be a problem. Perhaps the camera could be mounted between front seats and not so far back...
>Take a look at www.ultracameramounts.com
>Our Hood/Door and More Mount Kit that can be configured to obtain the shot that you are looking for. You can reach me at the email address below if you would like.
UCM-Director of Tech. Assistance