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Dominik Bauch

Car mount help

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Never worked with car mounts before, any help greatly appreciated. I'll be working with a roughly 40lb camera set up.

Is the Matthews Brauer hostess tray solid enough? i.e. on Los Angeles roads... will it hold up well without jostling around. Ideally it's locked to the movement of the car. Is this the case?

How about mounting in the back seat of the car, what's the easiest way to hard mount a camera for an OTS driver shot?

Thanks

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First, I’d strongly recommend reaching out to a key grip with some experience in vehicle rigging. If you cant guarantee the safety of the gear and the crew/talent, you shouldn’t attempt the shot.  If production won’t pay to do it right, with experienced crew and proper gear, you have to put your foot down.

That said, I would not trust that Matthews tray with 40lbs. The 2 6” suctions and the little wedge in the window will have a hard time dealing with the momentum that 40lbs bouncing around could produce.  It’s meant for light, minimal builds. Can you strip down the camera body, remove batteries, use a lightweight prime? Or rent a Blackmagic 4k on Sharegrid for like $100 just for that shot? 

To do 40lbs you’d want a real Hostess tray. To rent vehicle rigging equipment from a rental house, you’ll need liability insurance, and you’d need a grip to set it up. And the window has to be down...

For the hard mount inside, there’s not a really good solution that doesn’t involve taking out the seats and anchoring to the body, but it depends on the car. I usually resign to doing handheld or being on a monopod, smooth streets help a lot. You can suction mount a small camera to the windows, but they can be unstable without enough anchor points. 

Sorry I don’t have easy answers, but it’s a specialized field and mistakes can be very costly and dangerous. 

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Thanks Tristan.

Had a thought to try a hihat on a wooden board and use ratchet straps to secure the x, y & z axes. Possibly raising the board on apple boxes or something else solid. Unfortunately legit grip techniques are beyond my budget... 

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The apple boxes and high hat may work provided you have solid places to secure the ratchets.  When you have to place some boxes on the seat, you are always fighting the cushioning. But it may be “good enough” and will provide enough steady action to give the editor something to work with. Again, I highly advise scouting for smooth roads. Best of luck.

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I agree 100% with Tristan.  You need someone who is not just adept at rigging, but rigging to automobiles.  Every car is built differently, and will pose a different challenge because of that.  Especially with a camera package upwards of 40 pounds - this is well beyond a GoPro suction cupped to a windshield. 

There are so many qualified people in LA; and with so many of those people out of work right now, you should have no trouble finding someone eager to take a gig! 

Even with proper rigging, I hope you're aware of the increased safety concerns inherent in driving shots, and with hostess trays in particular.  Actors are not professional drivers.  Since your actor is concentrating on their performance, their road awareness can easily suffer - it must be stressed to the actor that they are piloting a vehicle first and foremost, and that everything else must be a lower priority.  I always make a point of communicating this personally to the driver, to be absolutely sure that it has been communicated. 

On top of that, a hostess tray makes a vehicle ~2ft wider on one side, which will require even greater road awareness.  (Along with considerations in route planning, lead and follow vehicles / traffic control, etc.  You do have a permit, right?) 

Any hostess tray or vehicle mount, regardless of payload, needs to be checked after every pass to make sure it is still correctly secured.  Rigging the camera properly, as well as changing camera position, will also take more time than you think.  Be sure to communicate this to your 1st AD and production team, so that everyone has reasonable expectations going in. 

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