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Twan Peeters

Can you give the illusion that a car is going faster than it is driving?

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Dear fellow filmmakers,


For the first time in my life I am shooting a car scene next week. We are using a carrig with suction cups to attach a C100 to the side of the car. Now since we do not have a car trailer, our actors have to drive and act at the same time.


We want to make sure that it is as safe as possible for the actors to do this. Luckily the scenes will take place on empty roads at the countryside. In addition I would like the actors to drive as slow as possible, yet it still has to look realistic.


Now my question is: Do you really see how fast a car is going? On the road that we will film people typically drive about 50km/h (30m/h). Let's say we let the actors drive 30km/h (18,5 m/h), will you notice that they are driving a lot slower?


I am shooting mainly close-ups and two-shots (through the windshield).


Any tips or advice would be much appreciated!







Edited by Twan Peeters

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The side angles always look faster than the front angles because anything passing near the sides of the car will move a lot faster by the lens, whereas the front angle looks deep down the road in the background, so if you want more speed, shoot side angles. I will say, however, that the frontal two shot, if tight, tends not to see much road so it's hard to tell the speed.

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There used to be an old process trailer/projected background formula that said that any footage passing by on the side windows (as when you shoot a profile or three quarter profile) should be shot at 60% speed. Otherwise it would look to fast when cut against stuff looking forward or backwards. Not really adding anything to this, just thought it was a cool little anecdote. I concur completely with what David's said.

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Thanks a lot for the information. I did not know that the car has to drive at different speeds to make the cuts look realistic. Unfortunately we are not using a trailer so we cannot change the speed of the car, because then we would hear it in the audio (the engine of the car will make a different sound). That said, I think I will just make the 2shot through the windshield really tight, so it will be harder to tell the speed as you said Adam.



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If you are recording dialogue, hopefully you aren't recording much engine noise because it's not going to be consistent all the time anyway, the car is naturally going to have to decelerate, accelerate, and brake -- and all of that won't time out in every set-up. So generally you try to get clean dialogue and add the engine sound in the mix later.

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