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Old March 1st, 2004, 01:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Larkspur, CA
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Shooting video in a car

I'm working on a short movie where there will be dialogue between 4 people driving in a car. The car is supposed to be driving down the road, during the daytime, and all 4 characters will be speaking in turn.

I've never done this type of a shot before, so I could use some advice. Specifically:

1. Should I consider shooting the car while parked, then add in the road sound, etc. in post? Luckily, the windows are tinted pretty dark, so I could probably come up with an effect outside the windows to make it look like it's moving. Of course, I have to rock the car a bit and take care of other elements too if I go this route.

2. Should I mic all 4 people, or use a central mic to capture all the dialogue?

3. How well does shooting from the hood (camera mount) work?

Thanks - any experiences or thoughts are helpful!
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Old March 1st, 2004, 02:43 PM   #2
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Location: Frankfurt, Germany
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Hi Chris,

Actually, having tinted windows is not really an advantage in this situation. I don’t know how you plan to light the people sitting in the car, but chances are that having the windows tinted means that you will bring the exposure outside closer to the exposure inside. This will make it necessary to have the background be in motion, because you are more likely to see what is going on outside.

I would recommend doing the shot on a large parking lot, having the driver do figure eight’s and stuff.

If you want to use a hood mount – which I would be my choice, at least for the master shots, then you will need a Pola filter to get rid of the reflections in the windshield. If your unlucky the Pola filter will make thermally treated windows look weird, so you may have to chose between lots of reflections from the sky or strange worpy things being visible in the glass.

There are pretty good suction cup mounts for car hoods, they pick up a bit more vibration than padded mounts but they are fine for smooth driving surfaces. You can also try a sandbag or two as mount if you shoot on a parking lot where the car is moving slowly.

Side mounts also look very good – but they are more complicated to build.

You should use at least two mics, one for the people in the front and one more for the people in the back.

I hope this is of some help – good luck
Daniel Kohl

Frankenstein meets XL1
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Old March 1st, 2004, 04:20 PM   #3
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If you are shooting in daylight, there is not much you can do to hide the fact that the car is not moving. If the tint is too dark to see through at all, chances are that it is one of two things,

1. Illegal

2. Installed by someone completely out of his mind.

It would be really weird to be in a car, with totally opaque windows. You could probably pull it off in a van or some other vehicle that doesn't have many windows.

During daylight, you really want to sell the shot by having real life zipping by.

A hood mount, regardless of the type will work fine as it becomes "part" of the car and you willl not notice any vibration or movement unless the mount or the camera itself is not secured properly.

The Pola will work fine, just remember that it will only work in the direction in which it was set to begin with, so I would stick to long stretches in the same direction for the duration of the shot. For continuity's sake, make sure that you don't do direct cuts from, let's say, lot's of buildings in the backgroung to fields and pastures with farm animals!

If find that you have to, and you will, reset from your starting marks and begin the sequence all over again, that is the way to go. A shallow depth of field will help to make the background what is called "nd" or non-descript, making it easier to cut between shots without too many continuity problems.

I have done the same type of shot with two wireless lavs, one placed on the rear of the front seat, pointing backwards, in between my two rear subjects and one on the dash, in between my two front subjects. Just ask your talent to give you a little more "level" which is normal when riding in a car anyway and you'll be fine.

Also, record at least 30-60 seconds of "room tone" inside the vehicle. This includes driving, idling, and stopped with the engine off. Do this with your talent inside the vehicle. You'll find this invaluable for editing your audio later.

Good luck, RB.
"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra.
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Old March 1st, 2004, 06:23 PM   #4
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA
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i bought a suction cup from

depending on your camera and how much you're willing to spend, this is a great way to film a moving car. I don't use my XL1s, but a small Hi8 camera instead to do the dirty work. At some point i'd like to get more so i can mount my XL1s.

WARNING: it is VERY SCARY to see your baby on the hood of a moving car knowing that it is held on by only a suction cup (even though they are very powerful).
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Old March 1st, 2004, 09:38 PM   #5
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Check out the StickyPod site at

Talked to a couple of folks who are using them and got some pretty good reviews. Great results for little $$$, so of course, I went out and bought three of them.

Regardless of whether your mount has 1, 3, 4 or 50 suction cups, it is always a good idea to tether your camera in case Mr. Murphy's name is on the call sheet that morning!

"The future ain't what it used to be." Yogi Berra.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 02:33 AM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 1,543

A couple of years ago I shot a scene where most of the action took place in the car. Let me tell you that it was pretty trickey.

To see how we done it, take a look at this thread (its about half way down):

If possible I would do it moving and shoot 1 person first of all and then go back and shoot the second person etc. If you put plenty of cut aways. It won't look so bad.i.e. cutaways 'past time' so by the time the cutaway ends the car would have moved further on down the road, so when you cut back, the scene look like it has moved on to a different part of the road. (does that make sense?).

Good luck.

If you can afford it, you could always attach the car to a tow truck, attach 4 cameras to the car pointing at your actors, then act the scene without stopping.


Ed Smith
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 02:55 AM   #7
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i remember a while ago i was involved in somethign similar..

we hired out a tow truck with a tray and put the car on there , all chained up nice and safe, miked the car with 3 remote Senns, and set up all our cams on the truck, we then droe the truck around the streets at about 20km/h :) one cam was handheld steadycam, the other 3 were mounted with brackets strategically bolted pointing into the car making sure that height wouldnt be noticable (cams were pointing down) but the DOF set up made it look like they were actually driving at higher speeds.

when elevation becam eprominant, we rope towed the cat while tha cams were on teh tray of the truck.

we also set up some chroma shots, and then some outside of the car action.. for traffic darting action

came out quite well and all it cost was a lil extra time and the hiring of a tow truck :)
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 01:59 PM   #8
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Larkspur, CA
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Thanks for all your help folks - it's really appreciated! What a great resource we have here.

Funny, I ordered a StickyPod about an hour before Rick Bravo's message (does this board also double for the psychic network?)

If anyone has further suggestions, please post them, and I'll let you know what I've learned when we shoot it.
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