I've been asked to DP an automobile series and the director wants
to use lipstick cameras for interesting POV's, while the car is
being driven. I have combed the archives and failed to find anything.
Having never worked with lipsticks, I'd very much appreciate some
guidance on favourite mounting systems and which cameras are especially
suited to this task.
I am interested in safety to protect the cameras mounted on the
outside, as well as preventing personal or property damage from
improper use of the mounting equipment. Any advice is much appreciated.
Thanks to all,
Director of Photography
Nick Mueller asks :
>lipsticks, I'd very much appreciate
some guidance on favourite >mounting systems and which cameras
are especially suited to this >task.
I've been doing lipstick camera work for over 10 years and have
found the Toshiba lipsticks to be most reliable and versatile. I'm
sorry but I've had mine for so long the model numbers on the camera
have rubbed off and there is no model numbers on the CCU.
However Toshiba makes the lipstick cameras for Eymo and their easy
enough to find.
I choose these cameras because NASCAR uses them so they've got to
be tough and they have proved to be.
I also chose them because they have a separate CCU (camera control
unit) and that allows me to mount a camera/lens only with no other
electronics to be jarred....and...the CCU allows three options for
1/. Composite video out 2/. S-video 3/. RGB via a nine pin computer type connector.
I primarily use the S-video because I run it directly into a clamshell
miniDV recorder, thus giving me as good a recording as I can get
under the circumstances.
Peter Lisand ( www.peterlisand.com/ ) makes some very nice swivel
mounts that are machined to collar the camera so you have pan and
tilt aiming capabilities. It's mounted via a standard 1/4 inch screw
Bogen/Advenger makes a very nice suction cup mounting system but
I use a variety of devices according to the application and whether
or not I have to worry about scratching the car.
Ratchet type cargo straps are your friend. After all the mounting
is done, I then run a cargo strap over the whole thing for total
stability and rock steady pictures.
Also fibre tape is a must. After ratcheting down with straps, fibre
tape is what I use to take that last bit of shake from the camera.
Maffer clamps work well for car part shots. You take the stud out
of the maffer and replace it with a stud that has a 1/4 inch screw
mount on one end. These are available at most decent camera stores.
You can get some rubber matting and cut it into small pieces that
are used when clamping on the maffers, to avoid scratching.
Using these maffers you can also use short C-stand arms. You put
a knuckle on the maffer stud, run a short arm to where you want
the camera mounted, add a stud with the 1/4 screw end, mount the
Lisand mount and you almost there. Now you usually have to place
some wedges under the last knuckle where the mount is to keep it
from bouncing and then use the cargo straps and tape for the final
There are hundreds of ways to mount these guys but there is one
thing you have to be warned about. These little cameras are pretty
good quality, but they spike like the punch at a high school prom.
Any "light hits" almost s out the picture and hits can
come often from direct sun, bumper and windshield glare.
That being said, I don't want to bore CMLer's any more than they
are now, so if you mail me directly, I can give you a little list
of must have jazz and where you can get this stuff.
You can also get good results by mounting little 1 chip mini DV
cameras like the DSR101. Their small, have their own tape transport
and mount almost the same way as the lipsticks and are remarkably
Allen S. Facemire
To Allen S. Facemire's excellent advice on mounting lipstick cameras
>Ratchet type cargo straps are
your friend. After all the mounting is done, >I then run a cargo
strap over the whole thing for total stability and rock >steady
>Also fibre tape is a must. After ratcheting down with straps,
fibre tape is >what I use to take that last bit of shake from
Also excellent for final tie down is gum rubber or surgical tubing.
It won't scratch the paint. It is unbelievably strong.
A few well stretched wraps is almost like welding. It's fast and
relatively cheap, so you can just cut it off when it's time to wrap.
In a pinch, hose clamps padded with a little tape are great too.
There's usually no shortage of these when you're around car guys.
IA 600 DP
We normally mount them on the inside not outside as windshield reflection
is a problem. Normally in the middle of the dash or between the
areas of the visors where the rear view mirror is. Great thing about
lipstick is you can use very wide lenses with them.
>Having never worked with lipsticks,
I'd very much appreciate some >guidance on favourite mounting
systems and which cameras are >especially suited to this task.
There are a variety of ways this can be accomplished.
First, choose you poison : from smallest to largest - Board, Bullet,
Lipstick, Cigar or Ice Cube camera. They all are quite small and
quality goes up with each step. When you get to an Ice Cube camera
you can get 3x 1/3" CCDs. All can be powered by DC.
Since these cameras are quite light they can be rigged without to
much trouble. There are several suction cup style mounts adaptable
to use with these small cameras, I don't recall the exact model,
but they seem to be some sort of small pump-action super-grip. Quite
often a maffer with a cable will be rigged nearby for a safety.
On the subject of safety, some people are incredibly unsafe. I've
heard about people rigging Cigar Cams into a shotgun mic mount at
the end of a boom pole and hanging it out a car window to get a
shot just inched off the ground.
I think it would be cool if you could rig a small remote head, like
for a Pelco Spectra camera. On the underside of a car. Then you
could pan and tilt while shooting!
When I worked on Blind Date there were two cigar cams suction cupped
to the front windshield criss-crossed to shoot the driver and passenger.
The cables were run along the ceiling and into the back seat for
the ccu's, two DSR-V10 clamshell decks are used for recording. I
think they still use the same set-up.
I know several people who specialize in hidden and P.O.V. camera
rigging. If you need any referrals please contact me off-list.
Allen, Brian, Walter and Illya,
Thank you all for the excellent responses. I've gotten information
on-line concerning available gear, but the expertise in making that
gear work to full potential is most valuable. You've all given me
good homework to get started. Also much appreciated are the offers
to share off-list. I will be in contact. All the cars featured in
this series will be new, so I will have to be careful with the merchandise.
Allen S. Facemire wrote :
>These little cameras are pretty
good quality, but they spike like the >punch at a high school
prom. Any "light hits" almost out the picture and >hits
can come often from direct sun, bumper and windshield glare.
Could a piece of PVC piping be cut and mounted to act as a lens
hood for a lipstick?
Depending on the type lens being used, of course,
Brian Heller writes :
>Also excellent for final tie
down is gum rubber or surgical tubing. It won't >scratch the
paint." AND "It's fast and relatively cheap, so you can
just cut >it off when it's time to wrap."
I can see a fair amount of surgical tubing in the expendables budget.
Illya Friedman wrote
>When I worked on Blind Date there were
two cigar cams suction >cupped to the front windshield criss-crossed
to shoot the driver and >passenger.
I think we may be using this setup. I'd considered using Arri suction
cups on the windshield, coupled with a griphead holding a maffered
camera. Some windshields are better suited than others, depending
on curvature. Noting Walter Graff's warning about windshield glare/reflections,
there are some polariser solutions available particularly for cigar
and ice cube cameras. I suppose you could also tape a filter in
proper orientation on a lipstick camera.
Gentlemen, thanks very much for sharing your experience. I look
forward to returning the favor.
Director of Photography
Allen Facemire writes :
>Lipsticks are all but useless
for that application because you can't get >them outfitted with
Brian Heller writes :
>In a pinch, hose clamps padded
with a little tape are great too.
I've used hose clamps for all kinds of rigging. They're very useful...but
**beware of over tightening them**. The screw develops a huge amount
of force, which can put a dent the stainless-steel strap, disengaging
the screw from the strap. It can also wrench the screw housing away
from the strap where it's anchored. When in doubt use several clamps
in parallel, tightened just-so.
Dan "learned the hard way" Drasin
Marin County, CA
Dan Drasin asked "why you
can't use a Polarizer on a lipstick camera". The
only reason I don't use one is that I've never seen one small enough
I'd use one in a heart beat.
As a matter of fact I'd love to have a clear glass 'cause I have
to buy new lenses every few years because they get gravel/sand pitted
from car mounts.
Anybody know of some sort of slip on filter for Toshiba/Eymo lipsticks,
I'm all ears!
Allen S. Facemire
The director of the automotive pilot, which I DoP'd, is very happy
with the footage. My considerable thanks to all who advised me on
lipstick cameras and various car-mounting techniques for these and
other cameras, particularly Allen Facemire, Brian Heller and Lew
Comenetz. Gentlemen, thank you.
Our pilot show features the new Cadillac XLR roadster, the body
of which provided excellent practice (very carefully) for a variety
of camera mount configurations. Not once did the mountings get loose.
We got our shots, our gear survived unscathed and the car returned
to GM without a scratch.
With much gratitude,
Director of Photography