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Old December 30th, 2012, 02:17 AM   #1
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Filming from Safari vehicle

How do you guys film from a Safari vehicle? Do you fix a tripod head in the vehicle? How do you do it? Is that stable?

Small species like foxes are pretty skittish and lowering the tripod on the ground is a big challenge. I am filming with a C300 with long lenses and without tripod the footage becomes unusable.
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Old December 30th, 2012, 05:47 AM   #2
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

I dont know how they do in Africa - but I guess that the gear is well mounted to handle the stress when driving in the wild. I am using a small sachtler when I am filming from my car but this might do better GFM camera Head Mounts & Ball Adapter for motion capture, broadcasting & video productions
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Old December 30th, 2012, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Are you filming in India? I filmed tigers a few years ago in Bandhavgarh, I was lucky to have the vehicle to myself apart from the driver and guide who remained in the front seats. The vehicle was an open topped Suzuki. The tripod was secured to the bases of the the rear seats in a way that placed the head centre to the vehicle giving me 360 degrees filming. I did attempt to locate the head on the roll bar, the drive had drilled a large hole through it for this purpose, not very successful, not a lot of movement for levelling.

Mick
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Old December 30th, 2012, 05:58 PM   #4
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

A number of years ago I went to Kenya. I took a good size bean bag, about 12"x8"x4". These are easy to make using all different stuffing. When we stopped for wildlife I set the bean bag on the top of the van and used that to steady my shots. It also acted as a pillow during long drives. Enjoy your trip and be safe. Bob
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Old December 30th, 2012, 07:02 PM   #5
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

The only pictures of safari equipped vehicles I could find: Farside Africa - Tailor-made luxury safaris and holidays in Africa

and yes, it appears that both shots show specialy fitted mounts.

However, even that unit fitted at the centre of the vehicle would be less and less usuable with every cm increase in the lens focal length, making shooting whilst actually driving an iffy affair unless it was pretty much set to wide angle.


CS
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Old December 30th, 2012, 07:36 PM   #6
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

There's a few variables, will you be the only one in the vehicle with the driver, or are you going with a tour? A tripod will ruled out with the later.
Presumably you'll only shoot once the vehicle is stationary, or static shots the bean bag idea would be easiest if the vehicle design lent itself to good shots, wild life as you know is unpredictable and you have to be quick , so being mobile with a bean bag could me quick change in setups are possible.
Tripods are necessary for good tracking shots though so you should consider that as well, what size camera you use will also dictate what you need, if it were a non shoulder mounted camera I imagine you could use a number of cool tools to mount, and depending if you have a real strict budget, even a decent bit of foam will work the same as a bean bag if you don't have access to one.
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Old December 30th, 2012, 11:54 PM   #7
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

When some young guns over here shot a parallel tracking shot of galloping warhorse scene for their project "Congoro" they slung a JVC HD100/Mini35-400 in poorman's helicopter rig style with bungees from the overhead bar work on this jeep.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 02:36 AM   #8
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

I've been to Africa twice on video projects, to Zanzibar once. Each trip was almost entirely different as far as shooting conditions go.
Here's a short distillation of what I experienced.

Each time we had a guide and driver and the African Land Rover with a raised Howdar and the long range fuel tanks.

Safari Drive self drive vehicles & equipment, Land Rover, Land Cruiser

Each time we stopped I used a basic monopod braced against the interior, it's impossible to shoot while the vehicle is moving.
You'll come across situations you haven't even thought about from your project point of view and you'll have to work fast.

Carry loose local change as incentives to pay selected locals to participate.

Also take pencils that you 'click' the kids love 'em. We take 300 for a month.
If you visit schools, present a box. Most schools have a 'show' class of kids, be ready to participate, you'll get fabulous responses.

That originally was biros not pencils, but each time you gave one, you knew at the end of the ink, that was it, no refills.
So I found some pencils with clicker tops, the kids love 'em and go click click .. and they last longer.

When a class of 40 barefoot little kids who each walk about 30kms to school every day, collectively blow you a goodbye kiss,
I defy you to make it back out to the truck before you start crying. I never could.

We went with DV tape, took 2 x HV20/30 cams, one as backup and shot HiDef. Took 2 RODE videomics.

Take one good tripod, but stuff will happen so fast you need to grab it before the moment passes, so have the handheld bit under your belt.
Take 3 batteries for each cam, 2 out with you each day and one back at base on the charger.

If you're shooting DV tape, work out how much you think you'll need then double it. Capetown is the only place you might get more of your tape
(at your price) but don't count on getting your brand. In some cities like Joberg and Nairobi you just can't walk around downtown.

Out in country dust is a major problem, clouds of talcum powder. We take large plastic garbage bags to put on everything at a moments notice.
And be careful unwrapping it after the storm. Change tapes indoors or in the 4WD. Use large blower brushes at night to clean gear along with damp cloths.
Run a cleaner tape each night.

Crossing borders is different every time, be prepared for anything including long waits, just keep smiling.
DO NOT, NEVER video the police or military, all cameras safely stowed.

Don't ask 'ordinary' uniforms for permission to video 'em, you just take them out of their routine, result confusion. Never offer them money.
At all times carry photo copies of all documents and the address of your embassy in all African countries.

They call it the African Experience, seeing the big 5 animals affects everyone. Seeing the poor kids makes you want to stop get out and help,
and you'll sponsor some through UNICEF. My wife and I and our kids have done so since 2004.

A lot of this was appropriate when we shot in India too. Have a great trip.

Cheers.
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Old December 31st, 2012, 02:56 AM   #9
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Hi Mick,
I am an Indian and am filming in some little known places as well as well known sanctuaries and national parks. I used to go to Bandhavgarh for photography every year, however there is too much of crowd there these days.

I places where private vehicles are allowed, I drive down with my SUV and in other places I used the open top Suzuki and other vehicles. I am using a OConnnor 1030 HDs fluid head and sachtler tripod. However, I find it cumbersome to set up, level and catch the action. In some cases I place the tripod down and in other cases in the open topped vehicles I place the tripod on the vehicle itself. Unfortunately either the driver or the guide happen to move at the wrong time and there is vibration. :(

I got some superb stuff of leopards fighting by placing the tripod on the ground. They didn't notice me. :)

I have got a hi-hat and wondering if placing it on top of the vehicle somehow can help.

I am using a Canon EOS C300 camera with 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens with 1.4x and 2x TCs for the long shots which needs the tripod. The Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM, 100-400 and other lenses can be placed in a bean bag but panning becomes out of question.


Chris Soucy:
Thanks for the link. It seems they are placing a sachtler fluid head fixed on the vehicle.

Today I was filming an eagle trying to attack a desert fox. I was using the tripod on an open topped vehicle and still there was a little bit of vibration. Or am I becoming too finicky?

Bob Hart:
Thanks for that photo. I think for smaller telephotos, at times I can use such a contraption and get steady shots while handholding.

I finished a smaller project and am planning for a large project in Feb so I need to get my equipment accessories in order.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mick Jenner View Post
Are you filming in India? I filmed tigers a few years ago in Bandhavgarh, I was lucky to have the vehicle to myself apart from the driver and guide who remained in the front seats. The vehicle was an open topped Suzuki. The tripod was secured to the bases of the the rear seats in a way that placed the head centre to the vehicle giving me 360 degrees filming. I did attempt to locate the head on the roll bar, the drive had drilled a large hole through it for this purpose, not very successful, not a lot of movement for levelling.

Mick
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Old January 1st, 2013, 11:08 PM   #10
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabyasachi Patra View Post
How do you guys film from a Safari vehicle? Do you fix a tripod head in the vehicle? How do you do it? Is that stable?

Small species like foxes are pretty skittish and lowering the tripod on the ground is a big challenge. I am filming with a C300 with long lenses and without tripod the footage becomes unusable.
This might be useful: Comprehensive Guide to Rigging Any Camera : 25 Aerial and Vehicle Rigs
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 01:18 AM   #11
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Hi Allan,
Thanks for your response. I have also realised that I need to have back up batteries for the C300 so that I don't worry about recharging. The battery takes a long time to charge, especially when I am charging from Solar.

The difference between the Have's and Have not's is huge. A genuine smile really touches the heart.

It is incredibly dusty. I was just looking at my tripod today morning and felt like dipping it in a lake, as the amount of dust on it is phenomenal. The moment I open my camera bag, dust gets in. Fortunately the equipment is able to take the beating.

I just returned to Delhi and will have to look at my footage before I start going to the field again.

Hi Sareesh,
I had looked at the gyros. However, for unpredictable situations like wildlife filming, one cannot keep the gyro on all the time. It takes a long time move up to top speed. And these things also make sound which will drown the calls of the animals.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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Old January 8th, 2013, 10:48 AM   #12
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Hi,

The problem you pose is truly big when it comes to jungles in india,

I have once shot in Bandhavgad with a smaller lens and a DSLR mounted on a video tripod, most of the things go out like panning , however the second issue is that there is motion with Driver, guide and you 3 guys breathing making the vibrations.

When i started shooting in the WesternGhats in rains i realised that the only thing that can help me is if i can sit inside the vehicle and shoot, so with a Tata Safari i only used the front 2 seats , the whole cabin behind was open, i could spread the tripod at the minimum height sit on the floor of the vehicle and shoot, with the older Nikkor 800AIS and 5D M II i got decent results of very small birds. ( no panning)
I even tried this with the Canon 400 2.8 and 5D MIII, it looks a decent setup, just that i drive my vehicle and shoot all by myself, that way i can control the movement in the vehicle and get some stable footage.
THe above allowed me to shoot in heavy rains and completely not disturbing the bird.
I am currently trying to work on a design to mount it inside the SUV and get the camera out, however its still WIP and i am not able to engineer it properly ( Finally i am a Finance guy so missing out on the design stuff)

Its good to know you work in India, would love to work with you some day.

best regards
vishal
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Old March 13th, 2013, 01:41 PM   #13
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

Hi Vishal,
Somehow I had missed it. You are a finance guy and designing mount whereas I am an engineer and MBA and asking around. :)

Which tripod were you using?

Once I was lazy, so tried my Canon 400 2.8 IS with a 2x TC on a Gitzo still tripod and Wimberly v2 head. The footage was looking like earth quake unless locked tight. So whatever may be the terrain, I carry my OConnor fluid head and Sachtler tripod. A wildlife filmmaker needs to be a porter as well. :)

I am working with a small team. I am sure in future projects of bigger size, there would be opportunities.

Cheers,
Sabyasachi
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Old March 13th, 2013, 07:54 PM   #14
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Re: Filming from Safari vehicle

The best way, from a moving vehicle would be a gyro (like a Taylor mini)- I also use them on helicopters.
Works just fine, even with a 400mm lens. But they are expensive, even when you rent them and they eat batteries. But they give you insane flexibility and you can move very fast.
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