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Old December 27th, 2003, 11:28 AM   #1
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XL1s and Moving Car Shots

Hey everyone.

I want to film inside an ambulance looking out the front window while enroute to a call. I don't have a Glidecam to hold it so what would you recommend besides hand held?

Would a tripod work. There is enough space in the rear of the ambulance to put one.

Any other ideas?


- AR
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Old December 27th, 2003, 12:13 PM   #2
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Off-hand, I'd say that this will probably be a hand-held shot, certainly not a tripod shot. Your body/arm should act as a shock-absorber between the ambulance's frame and your lens. If you try to use a tripod you will eliminate that "shock absorber".

It can be quite hard to produce a watchable shot from within a moving vehicle. So much depends on the quality of the street, the frequency/rate of speed changes, the skill of the driver, etc.
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Old December 27th, 2003, 01:12 PM   #3
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i would recommend locking down the camera some how as opposed to hand held. if you lock your camera so it holds the windshield in a frame you like, the windshield shouldnt shift in frame as you move and the vehicle shocks will absorb the energy, and your frame will always be the streets in the direction the vehicle is travelling. if you hand hold it and hit a bump your frame will move around inside the vehicle
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Old December 27th, 2003, 03:23 PM   #4
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Riad has a good point. The viewer's frame of reference will be the vehicle's interior. So ensuring that the camera moves in unison with the vehicle might work far better than handheld.
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Old December 27th, 2003, 06:31 PM   #5
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Thanks Guys.
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Old December 27th, 2003, 07:31 PM   #6
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I have to disagree with the fixed mount in a car.

I shoot a lot of video out the front window of a police car.

If the road were perfectly smooth, I'd agree. But they normally are not. Your video is going to move around. Just insure that the movement will be smooth and that will be acceptable.

The best technique is to hold the camera with your arms bent but elbows not locked. Move the camera in the opposite direction to the vertical motion of the car. Keep the camera on wide only. Anticipate which way the car is going to move by keeping your non-viewfinder eye open and watching the road.

Using this technique, I've gotten good shots out the windshield when racing through town, running 120 mph down the freeway and even riding in a mini on the backroads around Cheltenham in the UK.

It does help if you have the equivalent of SuperSteadyshot.
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Old December 29th, 2003, 10:14 AM   #7
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Tip for vibration dampening... I've shot a bit of hand held video with consumer/prosumer camcorders from the cockpit of small (4 seat) planes and helecopters.

One trick we have used successfully is to screw a 1/4' x 20 eyebolt into the tripod socket on the camcorder. Put another eyebolt in a small piece of plywood and connect the two eyebolts with an appropriate length of bungee cord. While shooting, put your feet on the plywood, and use the tension from the bungee to help dampen the camera movement.

So cheap, it's worth a try!
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Old January 1st, 2004, 12:33 AM   #8
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Take a look at this site and see what you think. I got one and I like it. I thought I would give it a try cause it was cheap, but it ended up being my car rig solution. I got an extra knuckle and a long and short extension to make it more versatile and I find I can do a lot with it and the footage looks great. I have never tried really high speeds or rugged driving and I don't think I would recommend it for that, but hey.. I don't know.

www.stickypod.com
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Old January 2nd, 2004, 11:29 AM   #9
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Wow! I have never heard of Stickypod, but this looks awesome! Mike Rehmus needs to get one before doing another 120mph sequence! :-)

Actually, I have used the XL1 at 60mph handheld (bent elbows like Mike suggests) with reasonably good results. But I can see how a Stickypod can help. Gotta try one.
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Old January 2nd, 2004, 08:11 PM   #10
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I have an outside camera mount that looks a lot more solid than the Stickypod but I'd not try one of my cameras on the outside of a police car. The police think nothing of using the cars as battering rams and I don't fancy my camera as the last projectile to hit the bad-guy's car!

The bungee cord idea sounds very good but I'd have to work out how to dump it very quckly. Not much room in the front seat of a full-sized Ford cruiser with a ballistic vest on, a computer protruding into my side of the car and a cage right behind the headrest. Even worse when it contains a K-9.

It can even be hard to fasten the seat belt when the car takes off just as the door closes. Difficult enough to manage the PD150 with its bad aspect ratio. So much so that in the daytime I frequently use the PC110.
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Old January 5th, 2004, 03:23 PM   #11
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Sounds like you have an interesting life, Mike! Can't say I ever had to wear a ballistic vest on assignment! Actually the K9 has it better than you--he's got the whole back of the Crown Vic to spread out in!
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Old January 6th, 2004, 12:25 AM   #12
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Sorry boys, have to agree with Ken and Riad.

Hand held is nice, easy and efficient when running and gunning but when it comes to bumpy, speedy roads with lots of wild-assed turning is involved, I'll take a hard mount any day of the week!

When you anchor to the vehicle the camera will move in unison with the vehicle as they become one. The only time you will have a problem with this is if the lens/camera is too heavy for the tripod head or it is not solidly attached giving you additional shake or shimmy.

The nice thing about anchoring to the vehicle is that while all your references,(windshield/window frames, seats, mirrors, etc.), remain motionless, the rest of the world around them is in constant chaos making the shot dynamic. The downside is that it is alot more work to take out the back seat and anchor the tripod to hardpoints with ratchet straps and sandbags.

Did it for two full years on Miami Vice where we sometimes had fast cars and even faster women!!!

We also hardmount our cameras on our police cars, SRT vans and just about anything that moves with rock-steady results.

RB
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Old January 6th, 2004, 10:57 AM   #13
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Hmmm, tough job! :-)
So, Rick, do you think the stickypod would do the job for the occasional road scene, assuming legal speeds and no Miami Vice Ferrari chases? Gotta be better than handheld, no?
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Old January 6th, 2004, 10:07 PM   #14
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Mike,

Allthough we did our fair share of hand held on Vice we also used mounts whenever possible for that solid tiedown.

The Stickypod looks like a pretty good deal. The one concern that I have is the picture where the cameras are elevated on arms. You would definitley be setting yourself up for alot of shake if the road is not completely smooth. It might help if you drill a couple of holes in the plate and apply a coupple of light bungees to exert some downward pressure.

Otherwise it looks like a cool little rig that should take out all of your vibration as you are now "part of the car".

I honestly don't beleive that speed would be a great factor, especially going in straight lines. I WOULD be worried about the centrifugal force exerted on the cameras during high-g turns if they are not tied down in some manner.

I see where they have secured the camera to the pod, but where are securing the pod to the car, other than with the main suction cups?

I would be interested in giving one a try.

Good shooting, RB
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Old January 7th, 2004, 05:09 PM   #15
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Well Rick, I think the cups are it, in terms of securing the pod to the car. The makers claim it's very strong, even showing a demo where they hang a 25 lb. barbell weight vertically from it. Makes me wish for some sort of safety leash, just in case.

I agree that shake would become a factor if extensions of any length are used. I would go further than bungees and try to put a rigid arm from the back of the cam down to the plate to limit any "bobblehead" motions.
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