Filming car scenes can actually be quite difficult, especially when you don’t have that multi-million dollar budget and all the latest specialist equipment. Shots need to be fluid and un-blurred, and there usually isn’t too many opportunities to reshoot a number of times over. But if you’re keen to take on those moving car shots or filming inside a moving car, these tips should help you to achieve the desired effect in next to no time.
Techniques when filming car scenes inside a moving vehicle
One of the best ways to capture scenes in a moving vehicle is to actually rig the camera on the front passenger seat, hood, or side of the car. This is favorable over using a camera person as it eliminates fatigue and unsteady camera work, especially during extended shots. You also eliminate the possibility of capturing the car corner posts, windshield wipers, hood and radio antenna as you will be setting a view point with the camera before filming commences. Position the tripod so that two legs point forward and the third points toward the back of the seat and use bungee cord to stabilize the tripod as rope can slip or loosen causing the tripod to move with any change of speed or direction.
Keep it tidy
There is some housekeeping you need to consider before filming commences. Make sure your windshield, windows, and exterior are clean. The sun can turn specks of dirt on the windshield into spots in front of your lens. Inside the car, don’t have any objects on the floor or dash otherwise reflections of sunglasses and camera bags will ruin your video. Also, remember that the primary duty is to have the car driven safely. Camera work comes second.
Keep the windows closest the camera closed because it’s amazing how the lens attracts all sorts of airborne debris. Once you are moving, the things that effect your shot the most are camera angle, speed, lighting and road conditions. If you’re looking for a clean shot without any auto parts showing, you can line up anywhere from just left of the radio antenna to just right of the rear view mirror. If you want to maximize the right sidewalk, you can use the end of the windshield as the right edge of your shot.
You might want to try some shots through the passenger side window and one advantage here is that you don’t need to be concerned about glare or reflections from the glass. You will need to wind down the window for these shots. Keep in mind that the closer the camera angle is to 90 degrees from the direction of travel, the more difficult the shot is. Shooting at or near right angles works best when you are traveling very slowly or when your subject is relatively far away.
Filming using a “Russian Arm”
The Russian Arm System is the unique combination of the gyro-stabilized flight head on the end of a gyro-stabilized remote controlled crane arm and is safely operated via joystick consoles from within the vehicle. It is a high speed mobile crane arm used for filming moving vehicles from just about any angle you want in all weather conditions.
The high speed mobile crane is mounted on the roof of a camera car or any other mobile platform such as a boat, bus or train and is one of the most flexible and stable camera system on the market. The Russian Arm keeps the camera steady while traveling at high speeds, across uneven pavement or off-road using a unique spring and strut design that eliminates camera shake and vibration. It only weighs 660 lb in total and the arm can swing freely around the vehicle, as low as a one foot from the ground and as high as 14 feet. For a more steady and professional moving vehicle shoot, hiring a Russian Arm should be considered.