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Old August 30th, 2002, 07:58 AM   #1
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Filming with your camera attached to the roof of a car?

Hi,

I'm new to this community and have learned a lot during my first day here!

I'm planing to shoot a documentary with a lot of panoramic footage shot from the roof of a driving car.

What accessories do I need to do so? I mean how do I attach the camera to the roof for steady non seasick images? How do I protect the lens and camera agains the elements?

Do I need a wide angle adapter?

Any feedback would be wonderful.

Thanks,

Dirk
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Old August 30th, 2002, 09:06 AM   #2
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A Wide angle adapter would probably show part of your car in the frame.
Keep the stock lens for the use of it's IS (and keep it set wide of course).
A regular UV filter should keep the lens safe. Wrap the camera in bubble wrap to keep it safe from dirt, bug splatter, and stone chips.

I personaly would find a car with a sunroof or convertible and have the operator stand up out of it and shoot, rather than attatching the camera to the roof. Unless you have a shock absorber on a professionaly built camera mount, you are going to pick up every little weave, dip, and bump in the road. Handholding it will eliminate this problem.
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Old August 30th, 2002, 09:43 AM   #3
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thanks for the advice Dylan,

What did you mean with IS.

Isn't the footage going to be sea-sickening if an operator is going to handhold the camera while driving?

I found this link. Can you tell me what you think of these mounting brackets please?

http://www.b-hague.co.uk/Mounting%20Brackets.htm

Thank you,

Dirk
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Old August 30th, 2002, 10:58 AM   #4
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By IS, he means Image Stabilization. If your camera has an image stabilization feature, then be sure to switch it on. A mounting bracket is a very good idea!
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Old August 30th, 2002, 12:26 PM   #5
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Bogen (http://www.bogenphoto.com/) makes a series of clamps and camera support solutions. The most interesting of which is the camera suction mount, product #3289. It supports about 7 lbs. so it will hold an XL1. Other possibilities include a Magic arm (#2930) and Super Clamp (#635). I've used the suction Mount for mounting to a vehicle and it worked very well with IS.

Jeff
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:05 PM   #6
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Dirk, I got your e-mail but I figured I'd just reply here.
Those camera mounts look good. Just make sure to get one that's sized properly for the XL1!

If you have good, smooth roads, mounting the camera on the car will work fine. If you have a car with a cushy suspension (Caddy, Merc, etc...) you probably won't have any problems on so-so roads with cracks, or minor repairs. If you have a car like mine, any little bump in the road will jar your footage and be noticable.
That's why a hand held unit might produce better results. The human operator works like a giant shock absorber.

Just my $0.02
Wait, those are Canadian cents.
So thats my $0.012usd. :)
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Old August 31st, 2002, 07:52 AM   #7
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I will soon be doing a music video shoot which will involve following a skateboarder down a hill in the centre of town at night.

I plan to use my XM-2 and my mum's convertible BMW to shoot from - nice tools if you have them!

The most likely formation will be weaving the car behind and in front of the skateboarder, With the skater staying at a fairly constant speed. I may also have a friend with a VX1000 on the street.

I was considering putting the camera on a small tripod resting on the back seat of the car, but after a few days of using the GL-2 I am so happy with the Optical Stabiliser I will be using the camera handheld, as I think it will pick up less shakes than the tripod.

I also need to find a capable cameraman who has similar ideas of shooting, as I am the only person I know who can skate down that hill!

I havent' considered lighting solutions yet...
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Old August 31st, 2002, 09:35 AM   #8
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A few years back I did a short video for a sunglass manufacturer, and we had several shots from inside my honda accord to show off the polarizing aspects of the glasses. I used the technique you mentioned, Camera on a tripod set behind and between front seats (feet on the floor and console) with several 15lb weights to give the whole rig more mass. The footage was perfect--vibration and wiggle free. I've handheld a lot from cars and it's almost impossible to get it as smooth (unless you want it all edgy and jerky).

Barry
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Old August 31st, 2002, 09:55 AM   #9
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Thank you so much for the replies so far.

It was very helpful but as with most issues there is no clear forward solution :-)

I want to shoot from on top of the roof of a car or van because I'm afraid the image quality will not be as good filming from inside the car. Also the higher I mount the camera the better the view I guess.

This leaves me two options:
1) Mounting the camera with a suction mount onto the roof of the car.
2) using a sunroof, stick my head out and film handheld.

If the GL(XM) has a good IS then this should have the same result concerning the stability shooting inside on a tripod or outside using a suction mount.

Further feedback is appreciated :-)

Thanks a lot,

Dirk

PS: As you would have guessed English is not my native language so please forgive me the writing mistakes.
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Old August 31st, 2002, 11:30 AM   #10
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Woody

I'm just a little curious how you'll light the skateborder up at night.
I'm not familiar with the GL2 but if you intend weaving side to side, I would recommend supporting the camera man on each side.

Peter.
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Old August 31st, 2002, 12:53 PM   #11
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Dirk

I think the suction cup thing should work fine, although I don't think I'd use it on the side of the car like they show on the webplage...not a positive enough support for an expensive camera. Two other options...I spent part of february on the highways of utah, rather dangerously "filming while driving"...and after nearly taking a header off a snow covered road in Zion (got it on tape!), I decided I needed something better. Two things came to mind, one the sunroof...like you said, but I still think a more positive mount is critical...so essentially rig a tripod to go up through the sunroof, again with some weight to add some inertia to the rig ...The other idea was to use a bogen super clamp attached to the roof rack on my suv (actually the best would be 2 clamps supporting a mounting plate)...I could position it over the sunroof with the handle of the fluid head and remote zoom control sticking down into the cabin so I could control it as needed.

You can see that as an american...english is also not necessarily my native language either....

Barry
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Old August 31st, 2002, 04:33 PM   #12
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Hi Barry,

I'm trying to picture your latest suggestion but I'm afraid my brains let me down at this moment.

Can you, if it's not to much trouble for you, draw this out for me please? What is a SUV?

Thanks,

Dirk

PS: I love this community already!!

Dirk

I think the suction cup thing should work fine, although I don't think I'd use it on the side of the car like they show on the webplage...not a positive enough support for an expensive camera. Two other options...I spent part of february on the highways of utah, rather dangerously "filming while driving"...and after nearly taking a header off a snow covered road in Zion (got it on tape!), I decided I needed something better. Two things came to mind, one the sunroof...like you said, but I still think a more positive mount is critical...so essentially rig a tripod to go up through the sunroof, again with some weight to add some inertia to the rig ...The other idea was to use a bogen super clamp attached to the roof rack on my suv (actually the best would be 2 clamps supporting a mounting plate)...I could position it over the sunroof with the handle of the fluid head and remote zoom control sticking down into the cabin
so I could control it as needed.

You can see that as an american...english is also not necessarily my native language either....

Barry
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Old August 31st, 2002, 06:52 PM   #13
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Ok...culture shock....

an SUV (sports utility vehicle) is a cross between a station wagon and a jeep. Usually 4 wheel drive, everyone in California has one, even if its just to go to the mall. Anyway most suvs have a luggage or bike rack on the top, which makes a reasonably good mount for just about anything. A bogen superclamp is a simple screw clamp that will grip just about anything under 2 inches in diameter, with insertable studs to attach lighting and camera equimpment. (in belgium it is probably sold under the name Manfrotto)

http://www.bogenphoto.com/

I'd try to draw it for you...but if you saw peter butler's attempt to diagram his gl2 over in the gl2 watchdog....you'll know why I'm not going to try.

Barry
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Old August 31st, 2002, 11:23 PM   #14
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Peter - Lighting is exactly the problem! I won't be able to! unless I have a flood in the car, but I don't think that would look too natural...

Luckily that road is pretty well lit by streetlights. I went out today for a recon and shot a bit of footage on a stretch of the road. It looks OK. I want it all to look quite dark & moody , so I'll probably use f1.6, shutter 1/25 on frame mode with as little gain as possible.

When u say, support the cameraman on both sides, do you mean by holding his shoulders or something? This sounds wise. I've never attempted a shoot of this type before. The main thing putting me off a tripod is that the only one I have is really crappy, without a spreader. I may buy a monopod and knock up a simple stabiliser by attaching a dumb bell or two to the bottom.

Someone posted a great website about stabilizers. It was something like www.homestabilizer.com but it had a weird spelling i can't remember

If you have any advice or suggestions for the shoot I'd like to hear them
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Old September 1st, 2002, 05:06 AM   #15
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Woody,
Sounds like a fun project. As it regards the camcorder in or on the vehicle, how about a pickup truck that is open in back. Not everyone in Texas has a pickup, but everyone knows someone who does.

At any rate, the pickup truck could be compact such as a Toyota and with an open back pickup truck you would have many more possibilities to arranging shots. High. Low. Hanging off the side. Whatever. You would be able to accommodate a proper tripod. You could sandbag a tripod. You could also provide a safety harness for the camerman/woman/whatever.

In addition, if you were to secure a small brace or platform to the rear bumper of a pickup truck, you would be able to get some interesting low level footage of a skateboarder.

Best of luck with your project. Nick
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