Rigging Cameras On F1 Race Car
Published : 4th January 2007
I have a client that wants to shoot with a FI race car. This will be shoot at the track I need some help and suggestions on ways of rigging Sony F900 to the car.
Calgary Alberta Canada
I would opt for a lighter camera and get a grip/crew that has done this before-even if you don't use a 235, it might be a good idea to look at arri.com, there are some samples of F1 rigs
I spent the 89 season with the Ferrari team and the 90 season with the
I wouldn't dream of rigging an F900 on one of these cars.
Talk to specialist companies who rig the cars for races, it shouldn't be too difficult to replace one of the onboards with a small HD head.
Access to and filming of these cars is incredibly limited, if you don't have a stratospheric budget then what you'll be allowed to do will be very limited.
If you want to do car to car filming then bear in mind that they don't/won't run slowly, the engines blow due to overheating, you'll need a camera car that is capable of in excess of 100mph on a circuit as a minimum.
Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
I would advise that you hire a Key Grip that is experienced in car rigs, and
preferably one that has his own rigging gear. It will make your life a whole lot easier and make you look good as well. Another tip is to look at possible shots with a viewfinder along with the Key Grip,(ahead of the shoot if possible, and schedule your shoot so that other shots are done off of the car during rig changeovers) as he may be able to pre build some mounts and pull them on and off in one piece, which saves time and money on the shoot day and eliminates a lot of toe tapping by the clients on shoot day.
Race cars at speed and camera mounts are nothing to play around with if you have not done this before. Cover your butt and hire a competent rigger.
Have a great shoot,
Best Boy Grip
Michael Witwicki wrote :
>I need some help and suggestions on ways of rigging Sony F900 to the >car.
Get in touch with Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer.
He consulted-assisted on the F1shots at Arri.com John Babl mentions, (go for the 235 camera product page).
He has some experience with these types of jobs.
Assistant Caméra - Camera Assistant - Kamera Assistent
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Mobil# Munich +491608036889 - London +447910034443 (please use German number)
Michael Witwicki wrote:
>> I have a client that wants to shoot with a FI race car.
>>This will be shoot at the track I need some help and suggestions on >>ways of rigging Sony F900 to the car.
The forces and vibrations generated by an F-1 at speed are enormous, and way beyond what an F-900 was designed to withstand. The F-900 will not survive even a few laps at speed. It's also unlike that you would get usable footage even if the camera remained intact.
You should explore alternatives.
Also rigging any camera to an F-1 is a job best left to an experienced professional.
IA 600 DP
Emmanuel Suys schrieb :
class="style15">> Get in touch with Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer
> He consulted-assisted on the F1shots at Arri.com John Babl mentions,
> (go for the 235 camera product page).
> He has some experience with these types of jobs.
Emmanuel Max Schwermer is the right man for that question.
I think that Robert J. Bova was the Grip for that job, he owns some amazing car-rigging gear. I can look up his contact info if you want.
Materialassistent / 2nd AC
Oh, you might want to read the article in the ARRInews about that job:
Materialassistent / 2nd AC
>> This will be shoot at the track I need some help and suggestions on >> ways of rigging Sony F900 to the car
This kind of thing is done routinely in NASCAR.
I suggest you consult with NASCAR techs, or at least FOX network techs. I
don't have the names at my disposal, but I offer this as direction toward a
Gear+Rose Motion Control
Don Canfield wrote :
class="style15">>> This will be shoot at the track I need some help and suggestions on
>> ways of rigging Sony F900 to the car.
>> This kind of thing is done routinely in NASCAR.
With a Sony F900!? If you remember the name of the company that makes this HD race recorder please post!
Whatever your decision, please work closely with the F1 team and please hire a competent rigger. As far as what NASCAR routinely does, that's lipstick cams, different animal.
Here's a post from 2004 to concur with Mr. Heller about the f900 use in
Here's a piece of the 2004 post:
"A while back, I rigged an HDWF900 HDCam to the outside of a NASCAR car, looking forward down the side. It lasted half a lap at speed at California Speedway. Just the sound of the un-muffled engine, reflecting off the outside concrete barrier wall of the track, caused the camera's tape transport to stop recording during the first half of the warm up lap a low speed, let along the eyeball-jarring vibration from the rock hard suspension at 170 MPH. The sad part of that was, even though I was viewing the images from inside the car with a monitor, and watching amazing and expensive smashes and crashes that were being choreographed for the benefit of the camera, I had no indication that the camera had stopped recording, until about the 5th lap at speed where the camera died entirely and I lost the image on the monitor.
Los Angeles, CA, USA "
class="style15">>I have a client that wants to shoot with a FI race car. This will be shoot at >the track I need some help and suggestions on ways of rigging Sony >F900 to the car.
You can view the result of our ARRIFLEX 235 camera on a Formula 1 race car in Bahrain in 2005 at
I was there and can report that there were no problems with the camera mounted on the F1 car.
These people, under the expert guidance of Emmanuel Schwermer, have already completed more shoots with a 235 strapped to an F1 car, this year using the Ultra Prime 8R lens. We have used some of the screenshots from this 2006 shoot for the Ultra Prime 8R brochure, which you can find at :
On page 10 and 11 you can actually see part of an F1 car nose mount rig.
I am now working on a new video, that will include the new F1 footage.
ARRI Product Manager Film Cameras & Lenses
Telephone: +49 30 811 952 23, FAX: +49 30 811 952 25
Sorry, I didn't read the message completely. Probably not a f900, but I don't know. Fox DOES broadcast NASCAR HD.
Gear+Rose Motion Control
Don Canfield wrote :
class="style15">> Sorry, I didn't read the message completely. Probably not a f900, but I
> don't know. Fox DOES broadcast NASCAR HD.
I'd think that the big difference here (between NASCAR and the F1 scenario) is that there probably is no recording of the signal "onboard" the car in the NASCAR instance. It's an HD head of some kind that transmits to a truck, so none of the vibration affects the tape mechanism/transport.
I can't believe someone mounted a 900 to any racecar.
(Of course, that's not really my line of work, so I'm just guessing.)
When I watch Nascar in HD, all the in car cameras appear to be SD as they are not full screen like the HD cameras are. The quality of both sucks.
I've done a couple of commercials with 435 arrays. One with 6 cameras and one with 8. Setup takes awhile as all cameras must have their shutters in sync.
Steve Peterson, IA6001stAC
Is this job based in Calgary?... I'm trying to wrap my head around this...
There are NO circuits in Alberta that could even remotely support an F1
car -- the nearest would be Montreal, and that is a semi-street circuit that
is only used for the race in June and a ChampCar race, which is considerably slower. And as we are right in the middle of the season, with Monte Carlo coming up, are we sure that we are talking about the Formula One as it is known in Europe?
I can't imagine any of the teams (even Toro Rosso or Aguri) considering devoting any time/energy/materials/travel/support to a HDCam shoot in a place that is about as far from the GP circuit as you can get. But I guess nothing is impossible. Great coverage on the ARRI shoot with the Williams team in Bahrain last spring... I'd love to see if anything sticks to the tape.
Hello . . .and here I am,
Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer from Munich.
Nice to rcognice so many people remember my F1 work.
I have little time @ the moment, but I will be back in this discussion in two days (today is monday night in Munich).
I think it is theoretical doable to go onboard with a F 900 on a F1. BUT!
Do you really wanna check this out?
I´m getting my money for being almost sure that it is working (more than "almost sure" is not possible in this extreme world of F1) I´m not getting money for stupid and dangerous experiments.
We did it so many times (6 times this year) with 235´s and 435´s, I did it with 16SR3´s and it was good, and we got fabulous onboard shots, outstanding shots!
Especially the last shots with the Arri Ultra Prime 8R for RedBull are absolutely fantastic - ROCKING!
Of course, due to the extreme amount of Film Stock we are exposing during F1 shootings, our producer is asking for shooting in HD.
The decision for film is often just because of these onboard shots. Because it´s working in 16 and 35. We are not budgeted enough to survive major fuck up´s - and we know, it´s working with film cameras, that´s why I recommend to shoot rather on film.
It´s sooooo expensive to produce in the F1 world, why you want to have more risks than you have already working on a race track?
Never forget, F1 motorsport is dangerous! Dangerous for all human beings on the track, if you have the exciting possibility to shoot a commercial or what ever there, why you want to have the risk your technique is not working?
Shoot the Onboards on film!
OK, shoot the rest on HD - why not? (don´t let us start a discussion about film-look and exposure range.
I did it so many times, and it was almost beyond the limit for the cameras and the team, my loader was touching strange things in our magazines after a lap with a 235 onboard a F1 car going more than 250 kmh!
There was not a roll any more in the mag, it was more a core.
Don´t waste money for the false decision!
And trust me. I´m not against HD, I´m working 50% in the Video (HD) world!
I´m working as a DITing 1st AC as well.
Again , I think it is doable with a HDCAM Camera Body, but don´t think about going with a Zoom Lens .
If you wanna try it with a HDCam, take a DigiPrime, not because of the outstanding quality, just because of the less weight of a prime lens.
Don´t forget the cost´s of the front glass.
I´m always developing new clear glass filter holders with my beloved rental house FGV Schmidle in Munich for F1 shootings - sometimes not that easy to do that.
A year ago we rigged a 235 with a T-Rex on the nose of a williams F1 car, We wanted to go with the 5,5 mill in the T-Rex Set, I was asking for 6 and more of these lenses, because I was thinking about one destroyed lens after each lap. (took me a month to achieve this shot with a completely remoted T-Rex in all axis).
But they stopped producing this lens, so I had 3 of them - we developed a ClearGlass FilterHolder for that WideAngleLens to change the optical flat in seconds after each lap.
F1 is extreme!
Normally we have destroyed clear filters after one day filming with onboard shots for about $2.500.-, good for Ira Tiffen (-;
Forget about "screwing" yourself rigs on the car.
It´s always about the F1 Team you are working with, and the Producer you are working for.
In my case, the producer is "the" F1 man in germany (Oliver Bauss, R.TV) and anybody knows him in the F1 world, that will - and did - open up doors for the film crew.
Usually we always describe the engineers of the team what we are going to do, and I´m sending them the technical details about the Cam and the Lens and so on, and the technicians of the team are developing and building the rig we need to mount the camera on the car. Believe me, they are absolutely good in building such things like rigs - they even building F1 cars.
We have rigs for Willams, Toyota, RedBull, TorroRosso and Sauber. The Rigs are property of the teams and @ there laboratories, so maybe you can work with the rigs are already approved by us.
To give you more hints, let me know for which team you are going to work with - maybe, I can make your life quite easy.
I have also pics of all our rigs and making-of films about our work.
By the way :
I met a AC in Vancouver/Canada @ a commercial shooting for VW EOS last year, this guy was so cool and nice, and he has family around munich, that I was inviting him for my last F1 jobs to come to germany.
He was working with me on 3 F1 jobs with OnBoards!
The only guy I know, doing that and based in canada.
Hope that is just the beginning of a nice discussion,
All the best,
Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer, bvk
1st AC - DIT - Operator
fon. +49 - (0)89 - 347 214
fax. +49 - (0)89 - 288 049 31
cell. +49 - (0)172 - 86 12 942
Emannuel Maximilian Schwermer, bvk wrote:
class="style15">> after a lap with a 235 onboard a F1 car going more than 250 kmh!
What shutter angles did you guys use? 45 degrees? Less?
It depends . . .(like always it looks great on 180°, because of a out of focus background if the race track surrounding is not so nice (and thats unfortunately often the case) I will even try to switch off the Shutter completely next time, we can not look to the eyepiece anyway, thats possible with a 435 X-treme.
But we used 90°, 45°, 22,5„ and 11,2° as well, all is looking great, depending on which look you wanna achieve - how aggressive it should look - and how much light do you have of course.
Especially if you shoot on the new kodak 50D - what is tremendous sharp and perfect for such shootings (my opinion). Sometimes we have to "shutter down" because there is no possibility to use ND Filters with special wide angle lenses during bright sun conditions and higher ASA Filmstocks - it looked always great. That´s why we developed our own flterholder for the new Ultra prime 8R. (Don´t forget to have a clear glass in front of your lens, it´ll be for sure damaged after one lap without) By the way, do your self an favor and get the 8R, you´ll get breathtaking footage on board a F1 car!
A shutter Speed of 45° is for sure a good decision if you wan´t it to look fast and progressive - go for it! But have some other takes as well with different Shutter speeds, you and your director will love all of them, just play and win.
Don´t start to go to high speed (FPS) with your onboard shots, everything above 75fps looks boring, it´s just waste of film stock and running time, the last times we were happy with 50fps and for some shots we even speeded it up in post to 30 or so.
Forget 150fps or so if your target is not a major ramp in post. (what can also be very nice for closer shots.
And always have enough magazines in your camera package, one lap can be over much faster as your loader is able to change, and be sure your loader is just the loader, he will be stressed anyway. Never show the F1 technicians small Mag´s (200ft) they will call for them because of the less weight - and than you just have half a lap captured. We never had problems with a 235´s or 435´s onboard with a 400ft 435 Mag. If the Rig was build by the F1 team, you will have no trouble at all - it´ll be fun man!
I´ll try to upload a 15min. making-of of my last shooting for Toyota F1 on my homepage this night, once I was successful, I will let you guys know, we had 9 Units and Fred North as our helicopter pilot - outstanding footage.
I have a slow week at the moment, if you wanna have more informations .
Emanuel Maximilian Schwermer, bvk
1st AC - DIT - Operator
@ the moment our Toyota f1 making of is rendereing down to a NTSC quick time file, so you all will be able to download it in a couple of hours.
Hope you guys will enjoy it.
Don´t forget it´s a making of for the team, not a serious image film for a company.
It is natively more than 550MB large, I´ll try to get it down to about 100MB.
Don´t be angry if it is not working, I´m not a webdesigner . . .I´ll try hard to get it done.
Thanks for the insight-I'd hate to do that kind of work on a hot humid day...the little bit of shooting I've done w/ race cars was some S-16(5285) w/ prototype class and GT cars- you know, the class w/ 911's, Sallen S7's, Ferraris, Vipers, BMW's etc (but nothing onboard) and one Nascar shoot w a driver that was testing- but nothing close to F1...
I did however run to get earplugs!
I had a chance to see Porsche's F1 car at he Porsche museum in Stuttgart-it was a V6 car from the '86 era when they made a lot morepower(over 1100hp?)-and a pretty wild 16 cylinder(!) prototype engine used on early 917s around 1970 before they settled on the 12 cyl twin turbos). The flat crank V8 F1's made a wonderful sound too, (andthey're back to V8's after years of 10 cyl if I'm not mistaken-I think since the advent of pneumatic valves they redline at around 18,000 rpm!
How did you deal w/ vibration issues?(aside from narrow shutter angles)
A while back, I rigged an HDWF900 HDCam to the outside of a NASCAR car, looking forward down the side. It lasted half a lap at speed at California Speedway. Just the sound of the un-muffled engine, reflecting off the outside concrete barrier wall of the track, caused the camera's tape transport to stop recording during the first half of the warm up lap a low speed, let along the eyeball-jarring vibration from the rock hard suspension at 170 MPH
Why not just mount an IMAX on it?
Get the DVD "Super Speedway The Mach II Special Edition" and watch the behind the scenes making of the video.
Owner, Spectra Video Productions, Inc.
Las Vegas, NV