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Old July 8th, 2008, 12:48 PM   #1
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Camera settings for filming from and/or in a cab

Excuse me for my novice induced ignorance, but I would like some advice on camera settings while in a cab. I'm traveling to NYC next week and wish to film in the cab I'll be taking from LGA. I'm hoping I can pay the cabbie a bit extra to take me around the area, prior to checking in at the hotel. Perhaps to those 'out of the way' places and other places of interest. I'm also hoping to perhaps conduct a mini interview of sorts with the cabbie... if I'm lucky, that is. :P

Anyhow, generally I do not use the auto setting of my camera (Sony VX2000). I prefer to adjust my own film speed, exposure and white balance. I also manually operate my focus, but when outdoors, I will usually put it on auto focus. Currently, my shutter speed is set at 1/125.

I'm hoping I can get enough decent footage to put something together for uploading on TriggerStreet. I've been a TS member for years and I'm long overdue for a submission (my first). Any insight and/or advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your patience with my ignorance. It goes along with the territory of being a novice.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 06:52 PM   #2
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My advice would be to rethink the whole thing. The cab ride from LaGuardia is not particularly picturesque until you come out of the tunnel into Manhattan. Once there, there's an awful lot of stop-start in traffic which will make holding your camera steady difficult.

Depending on what subject matter you're wanting to capture, Manhattan is a pretty vertical place. Wide shots from a moving cab are going to be pretty fast-moving (ie blurry). You can't shoot out the front unless you're zoomed in far enough, and even then you're shooting not only through a (very likely) dirty windshield, you're also shooting through the (likelier still) dirty partition between the front and back seats.

Will the cab take you for a ride before going to the hotel? Most certainly, and in more ways than one. Expect to pay through the nose for a sightseeing tour in a cab. An interview is also very unlikely, largely because of the aforementioned partition. Cabs are a good way to get to and from the airport, but not for much else.

If you want some good vistas of New York City, you might consider taking the Circle Line boat tour (www.circleline42.com) around the island. It departs from the west side of the island at 42nd st. There is a 2 hr tour that goes down the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty, then over to the East River and up the east side to about 34th st. and then doubles back. You can get some really great skyline shots and bridge shots.

There is a 3 hr tour that circles the entire island where you can get more bridge shots (George Washington Bridge is particularly nice) and more. At the north end of Manhattan you'd never even guess that you are in a major metropolitan city. Quite remarkable. This was the tour I took recently and I got some really great footage, not only of the skyline, but the Statue of Liberty as well. If you take this tour be sure to sit on the left side of the boat. Of course if the boat is not too full you can move about to get the shots you want. If I remember correctly, the prices are in the $30 - $35ish range.

Manhattan, being a great walking-town, offers better shots just from walking around than you could ever get from a cab. People-watching at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, the Plaza at Lincoln Center, Times Square (both day and night) are far more likely to give you footage that others can actually use. I would not bother with a tripod because it'll get trampled (New Yorkers aren't rude, they're just in a hurry to get where they're going!) and you might get accosted for shooting without a permit.

I really envy you getting to go to NYC. I was just there a few short months ago and I'm already longing for a return trip!

Best of luck, and HAVE FUN!
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Old July 8th, 2008, 08:29 PM   #3
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What Frank said, but also consider a tour bus ride through the city. Rates are about $50-$80 for the day or weekend, and offer off/on stops so you can take your time. Most buses are double decker with open roofs, offering a much better view than being stuck in traffic at street level.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 09:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice, guys. Your advice is appreciated and I especially like the link you provided, Frank.

Man... I didn't realize that NYC cabs were 'caged in'. Well, it's not like I take a cab everyday here in Cleveland, but the last time I did (about a year ago), there was nothing between me and the driver. It was like sitting in the back seat of somebody's car. But, hey - Cleveland and NYC are two completely different beasts, apparently.

Regarding shelling out bucks - I had planned on shelling out $100 to the cabbie, provided he/she would be willing to allow me to chat with him, on film, and provided he wanted to take me by any interesting places. I basically intended on only doing a 'drive by' while in the cab. I ultimately intended my main focus to be on the cabbie him/her self. Perhaps there would be some interesting stories to tell about his cab driving experiences. A few shots thrown into the works would be great as well. I also intended to take additional footage of areas in Manhattan and combine it with the audio.

Regarding catching a cab from LGA. The hotel I'm staying at (Courtyard Marriott on the Upper East Side) also provides Town Cars for it's customers. That might be a whole 'nuther ball of wax. The price of the Town Car really isn't that bad, going by the hotel's rates.

Frank - yeah, I'm pretty excited to go. I've only been to Manhattan once, and that was 25 years ago, and was for only a day. This is a visit, mostly for medical reasons, but I plan on getting some sight seeing done as well. The plastic surgeon I will be seeing is allowing me to interview him. I asked for permission to conduct a interview (probably 3 minutes or so) regarding a unique medical procedure he created to treat my condition. My hopes are to provide others who are interested in having this procedure done first hand information from the man who pioneered the technique. If anything, it will drum up more business for the guy. I don't intend on creating something that will be submitted to any sort of film festival. I'll just probably put it up on YouTube or put it up on a medical website that provides info on this doctor. I'm just a tad unnerved at conducting this interview and still haven't decided whether to use my DV Caddie or tripod to shoot the footage. I don't know what I'm up against and what sort of environment I'll be shooting in, so I'll have to wait until I get there.

As for the recommendations on tour busses and the like, I have a filmmaking friend who lives in Alphabet City. He has offered to show me around to interesting haunts or the 'touristy' places that I might be interested in.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 03:25 AM   #5
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There's also the Staten Island Ferry!

http://www.siferry.com/index.aspx
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Old July 9th, 2008, 04:35 AM   #6
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And if your video is for anything other than personal use, ie, will be shown publically, don't forget to get either a written release from the cabbie or record his permission to use his likeness on the tape itself.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 06:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
And if your video is for anything other than personal use, ie, will be shown publically, don't forget to get either a written release from the cabbie or record his permission to use his likeness on the tape itself.
Yes - that's what I meant if I was able to get the cabbie's permission. The tape itself is (was?) what I'm going for.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
There's also the Staten Island Ferry!

http://www.siferry.com/index.aspx
Yeah - I think that I'll be riding the ferry. I heard the best time to go is first thing in the morning, if you're headed to Ellis Island.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 06:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
or record his permission to use his likeness on the tape itself.
That's a great idea. I've never thought of that one before.
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