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I'm shooting a short film next month that has a few bicycling sequences, involving two characters - an older man and a younger boy. I'm working on finding an affordable, safe method that will give good results. I am shooting RED EPIC with Zeiss UP. A few notes about the coverage the director hopes to achieve:

- Wide Shots in front of characters (biking towards camera)

- closer shots (shoulder up MCU) on faces

- wide shots on characters back (following from behind)

- Profile bicycles on sidewalks

A few factors to consider: the characters are going to be biking pretty slowly / casually. We are shooting in a small southern town, and the locations are all pretty smooth and well paved.

This is a college thesis film, we're students so think micro with the budget. We have access to friends pick up trucks (and other automobiles). So my current plan of attack is to shoot from the bed of a pick-up truck. I was thinking securing a high hat and stabilizing with sand bags and ratchet straps. Here are the questions that arise:


Is this approach the best given the budget restraints? Has anyone used a different method they would like to share?

Going with this approach, what is the best way to stabilze a RED EPIC to a truck bed that will minimilize bump and shake and still allow me to operate and follow the action taking place?


Does anyone have any pictures of rigs like this? I would love to see a concrete example of what I'm trying to achieve.


Any adive for shooting the shots from behind the bicyclists - the only thing I could think of would be to drive the truck in reverse...

I apoligize if this topic has already been discussed. I searched through the forums but didn't come across any results.

ALSO: Here's a video with great smooth shots, it's a skateboard but I imagine the bicycles will move at a similar speed. --

-- wonder how this was done?




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A pick up should be fine, lashing the tripod to the vehicle helps, how smooth it is depends on the suspension of the vehicle and the road surface. You can either fake the CU.s on the back of the pick up with the riders on a "bike rig" or the riders can come closer, although the vibration will be more noticeable;with longer focal length lenses. Without a specialist vehicle with a platform, the safest way to film the forward facing shots is to just mount a locked off camera on the front of vehicle and use a monitor inside the vehicle to check the framing.


You should always bear in mind safety, don't go beyond the skills of your driver and cyclists and make sure the crew are secure and can't fall off.

Edited by Brian Drysdale
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Way, way, way back in my career, I got a tow dolly from U-Haul, and made a camera platform by bolting a sheet of plywood to it to get some cycling shots. It requires someone to have a drill, bits for pilot holes, and a few bolts and nuts, but it's still a pretty cheap way to get down to street level. The bed of the pickup may well be too high. (Of course, it also requires a vehicle with a tow hitch.)

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For the shots from behind the cyclists, would you consider mixing in footage from a gopro or hdslr mounted on a bicycle?

As for smoothing out those shots, the big budget solution is a stabilized head. Low budget solution is a vibration isolator. Micro budget is finding the smoothest surface you can get.

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  • 9 months later...

For the bike following shots, I would also recommend a GoPro or DLSR depending on what kind of shot you are looking for.


If the slight fish-eye is OK, you have good lighting (sunny day), and can tolerate some movement, the GoPro will probably be the easiest and cheapest. I would personally mount it on a handheld stick so you can get really close ot the subjects. I took some ski footage recently with a GoPro on a handheld stick while skiing around my subjects, and it came out amazing, because I could grab really odd camera angles (i.e. right next to my boot, over the head, between my legs, behind me as well as transitions) as well as get really close to subjects I was skiing next to. Hold it upside down to provide some stability. It had some shake, but not as much as you might think. So my first approach would be to mount the go-pro on a stick mount (telescopic one from Amazon for $15 or so), get on a bike behind them and shoot some footage with one hand and see if that is good enough.


Option B is to mount a DLSR, which has no fish eye and also better lens reach, onto another bike or car. Since this is too heavy to handle with one hand on a bike, you are probably going to need a car, truck or a two person bike. Also if you go with the longer lens, then you need to worry about steadying it - so we're into some kind of stabilizer. I'm thinking a DLSR mounted on a handheld steadycam or stabilizer held out the passenger window (or back of the truck) while someone else drives.


Safety is a concern in both approaches as well, so select a location that is flat, smooth, slow and out of traffic. You can always speed up the final footage a bit in post if needed.

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