Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Digital Effect Combining Camera Tilt Up

Published : 30th September 2003


Following on from the same project as for the favourite film stock question, though this question is connected to the final shot…

The director wants a tilt-up into the sky. The camera is mounted on a car hood mount, and the idea is that the car is taking off into the sky.

I don't want to ride on the hood of a rental car at freeway speeds. Renting a remote head or insert car for that one shot is prohibitively expensive.

My solution :

It's going to be a digital effect combining three different shots : one looking straight down the road, another pass along the same stretch of road with the camera looking a little higher, and another shot on the same stretch of road looking higher still. These shots will then be combined into a kind of "digital tilt up" into the sky. The art director says she can blend the shots together in After Effects so they look like a single tilt up.

I'm thinking that, as long as I avoid tall objects in the sides of frame, she can blend the shots together and use one to push the other out of the way so it all looks like a tilt up. They'll be other effects happening at the same time that can be used to hide the transition (blurs, sparks, etc. as the car shoots skyward.)

Any thoughts on why this won't work?

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/



How about a remote lens zoom and a piece of aluminium or wood rod taped or clamped to the pan rod that reaches the passenger side of the car. Want to tilt, adjust your stick accordingly. Want to tilt and zoom, same thing.

Walter Graff
NYC



I completely agree with Walter here. A simple mechanical rig should work perfectly rather than a complicated post solution that sounds fairly dicey to me. If the pan handle extension won't reach, attach a spring tensioner from the front of the head to the car rig and tie a cable to the rear or the pan arm. Attach a pulley to the car rig and run the cable through it and to you through the passenger window. Now all you have to do is pull on the cable.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Hi,

>The art director says she can blend the shots together in After Effects so >they look like a single tilt up.

Are you actually going to be driving along at this point?

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



>Are you actually going to be driving along at this point?

Yup. That's the plan, man. At about 50 mph.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



>A simple mechanical rig should work perfectly rather than a >complicated post solution that sounds fairly dicey to me.

Possibly, but not being overly mechanically inclined I'm a little concerned as to how smooth a move I'll get using a 5' pan arm or a cable and a spring tensioner on a moving vehicle, especially if I have to build such a rig.

Stitching three shots together in post seems like it might be a little more manageable.

As long as the clouds don't move... (They don't, do they?)

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



> As long as the clouds don't move... (They don't, do they?)


They used to but I heard the funding for cloud motion was cut from California's budget...(Apparently the Bush administration is encouraging a "private initiative" to get them going again....)

Sam Wells



Hi,

That is not going to work. The vibration and camera shake of driving along, or whatever slight drift something like Steadicam introduces, will completely destroy your ability to stitch the shots afterwards. You could I guess try and feature track your way out of it, but really - try to find another way.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



>That is not going to work. The vibration and camera shake of driving >along, or whatever slight drift

I disagree. I have done many hood shots in the wonderful streets of NY and it really isn't an issue for the purposes of connecting up the shots.

Walter Graff
NYC



What I'm curious about is how much LESS than renting a remote head will all the post tricks you must do cost?

As Phil points out, the difference in the shake and shimmy between the 3 "moving lock off plates" will have to be tracked and tediously stitched together. In addition, there WILL be a difference in the number of frames you shoot on each pass, and the simple linear motion of the car will not even match, as it will be impossible to ensure the exact same speed on each take...(unless you somehow lock the speed of the car to the shutter pulse of the camera). If you were doing this as a lock off with three plates at different tilt angles, it would be simple.

Seems to me that a remote head, even if something as simple as Hot Wheels, combined with a long zoom cable or remote zoom is the best answer to your problem, and likely cheaper than the post tricks.

Second choice would be to build some kind of jerry rigged remote operation device as has been suggested here, but that requires the time to build it, test it, and all that, and most likely someone will have to be paid for that too.

Is a remote head really "prohibitively expensive" when you factor in all the costs of other solutions?

Just my opinion,

Don Canfield
Gear+Rose Motion Control
New York
www.gearandrose.com



Ok, Home Depot. Purchase a piece of 1x3 batten in a 10 foot length. Take it home. Get a circular saw and cut the wood in half lengthwise. You might not even need to cut it in half length wise as it will end up being five feet long and pine is lightweight Figure out how much you have to cut to attach it to the pan arm to have the other end reach you. Cut it. Even easier, get a golfers ball retriever (light aluminium). Then using gaffers tape wrap either around the arm of the head along with the wood or aluminium extension arm you made which is parallel with the arm of your head. Adjust your breaks according and head balance. Now adjust your arm so the other end is reachable. Add a zoom control for remote zoom ability. Put a small monitor in the car with you. Start the car. Drive.

Walter Graff
NYC



BTW, is the vehicle itself going to be visible in the shot at all? In the starting position will the hood or front bumper be in frame? If not, then this gets much easier, as you can place the camera directly in front of the passenger window and either just reach out and grab the pan arm directly or attach a fairly short extension like a grip arm.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Mitch Gross writes :

>I completely agree with Walter here. A simple mechanical rig should >work


Yes, and depending on how heavy your camera is, you might be able to rent a convertible, set up a high tripod in the front seat, and get one of those lightweight tripod-mounted jibs that employ the fluid tripod head at the pivot point and a cable-pulley arrangement to tilt the camera at the end of the jib boom. You might want to secure the camera end of the boom to the car's hood with a suction mount, in such a way as not to inhibit the camera tilt action.

Plan B (less fussy and more solid) : Use an ordinary suction-mount for the camera, and several macho suction mounts as anchors for your primary personal safety harness. (secondary safety ropes for you and the rig can be looped through the front windows of the car.)

Plan C : Build a sturdy shooting platform that attaches securely to the hood with multiple suction mounts and safety ropes. Anchor yourself and the camera to the platform.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



>What I'm curious about is how much LESS than renting a remote head >will all the post tricks you must do cost?

Well, the art director is doing it in the office in After Effects, so beats me. She says she can do it.

>As Phil points out, the difference in the shake and shimmy between the >3"moving lock off plates" will have to be tracked and tediously stitched >together.

They'll be some special effects going on, and they're talking about adding some "vibration" as the car soars into the air. I'm fairly sure they'll be able to do a reasonable job. It doesn't have to be precise.

>In addition, there WILL be a difference in the number of frames you >shoot on each pass, and the simple linear motion of the car will not even >match, as it will be impossible to ensure the exact same speed on each >take...

True. But since the last setup or two will be mostly sky, and I'm assuming the first plate with the ground in it will simply be shoved out of the way by the sky plates, I don't think there'll be a lot to line up precisely. One plate with ground in it, plus two plates of sky, and they should be able to make something happen.

>Seems to me that a remote head, even if something as simple as Hot >Wheels, combined with a long zoom cable or remote zoom is the best >answer to your problem, and likely cheaper than the post tricks.

It might be if we had one locally. I don't know of any, and to throw this at the production company now might be too much. Anyone know how much a Hot Wheels unit costs to rent, and where to rent one?

It's going to be interesting, with a two person crew, to operate a Hot Wheels and zoom at the same time while someone else drives the car. (There may not be money for a camera assistant.)

The production company is already vexed by the cost of shooting film, although the boss really wants that look and I'm on his side. We are, though, researching the Varicam as an option because we can do long exposures with it. (That's called for in another part of the storyboards.) There's exactly one Varicam that I know of in the Bay Area, and the boxes required to convert DVCPRO HD to something an Avid can use seem to be few, far between and elsewhere.

It seems a stitch job between plates to which a bunch of jitter and shake will be added anyway might just be the trick.

>Second choice would be to build some kind of jerry rigged remote >operation device as has been suggested here, but that requires the >time to build it, test it, and all that, and most likely someone will have to >be paid for that too.

And that's not going to happen. The money's being spent on location scouting and other pre-production research.

>Is a remote head really "prohibitively expensive" when you factor in all >the costs of other solutions?

Well...considering the cost of finding one, or flying it up, and the time spent learning to assemble it and test it, and the expense of carrying it around for four days before we even get to the location we're going to use it at, and the time spent to rig it safely...I don't think it's a good idea to throw all that at the production company right now, especially when they're in the throes of trying to figure out whether HD is now an option since I told them they're going to have to shoot a lot more film to get what they want than they'd planned on. And the only HD camera that can a similar job records in an odd format that no one knows how to deal with yet.

To call them up and say "Oh, by the way, now we need a special piece of equipment that must be ordered from LA, along with a gear head from somewhere else, and we'll have to pay a weekly rate unless we change our whole schedule and shoot at the most distant location on the first day" just doesn't feel like a career-building move right now.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



>If not, then this gets much easier, as you can place the camera directly >in front of the passenger window and either just reach out and grab the >pan arm directly or attach a fairly short extension like a grip arm.

This is the best idea of all. A hostess tray would work nicely.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



>They used to but I heard the funding for cloud motion was cut from >California's budget...(Apparently the Bush administration is encouraging >a "private initiative" to get them going again....)

Clouds are considered an "entitlement" in California. As a result, the Republicans are trying to eliminate them.

To do so they will declare that studies show clouds simply don't exist. All funding for clouds will be cut. The clouds that are floating about freely will be cleaned up at great expense, lining the pockets of those who monopolize the newly deregulated "moisture abatement" industry.

At some point a cloud will collide with a tall building and war will be declared against a nation that can barely feed its own people but has plenty of clouds floating about. A constitutional amendment banning clouds will be considered. The Republican Party will make long speeches about how the size and scope of government must be reduced, all the while raising taxes to fund a surveillance effort aimed at people who sweat too much and thereby release aggressive and anti-Christian water vapour into the air.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world will laugh at us and simply enjoy their clouds.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



>Clouds are considered an "entitlement" in California.

This is the problem. Clouds are native to England, and Californians have no right to expect a regular supply in their skies. The English regard clouds as their birthright and will complain loudly if anyone gets more than they do. This hasn't often been the case.

However, recently, due to certain countries failing to support international anti climate-warming conventions, there has been an acute shortage of clouds in England, causing great distress to those whose livelihoods depend on them - umbrella sellers, flood relief agencies, and cinemas where you "only come in out of the rain". Many clouds have apparently been attracted to the West Coast of the USA but due to the Californian budget cuts, and the hot air raised over the state elections, have failed to arrive. In fact no-one can figure out where the "runaway clouds" are.

The usual suspects have been checked: Canada is short of clouds despite considerable tax benefits for cloud-makers. Australia hasn't seen a proper cloud for years, despite attempts to make its own. France gets a few clouds, but doesn't permit any rain unless it's in French. There seems to be a world shortage of clouds, unless you count Indian clouds. It's reported that they have more than anyone else even England, but no-one else ever sees them.

Dominic Case
Atlab Australia



>They used to but I heard the funding for cloud motion was cut from >California's budget...(Apparently the Bush administration is encouraging >a "private initiative" to get them going again....)

A new California invention!!!

A major research institution in Santa Barbara has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest chemical element yet known to science. The new element has-been tentatively named Governmentium. Governmentium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause some morons to become neutrons, forming isotopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass and occurs every 4 years, whereupon it decays and new Governmentium is formed...

Robert Rouveroy csc
The Hague, Holland

I plan to live forever. So far, so good.