Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Some Thoughts on Car Mounts
Car mounts are fun. It's one of those times where the Grips really show their worth. As a Dolly Grip, car mounts are a part of your job. Unfortunately, I rarely get to build them because they are often pre rigged by the Best Boy and the Key and they are so much fun that I don't get in on them very much. I can do it, I've done them for years but there are guys who are just whizzes at them. A name that comes to mind is Keith Bunting, who is a Dolly Grip in NY. I worked with him years ago and he was a genius at car mounts. The guys I work with, the Key and the Best Boy are also first rate car riggers. I always try to get in on them but I have to "Get back on set and listen up!" Process trailers are a different story since they often involve dolly track. Keep this in mind when the heavy breathers are asking which is better, mount or process trailer,- the shot is more stable when rigged directly from the hero car. Unless you're doing dolly moves, etc., a mount will give you a more stable shot because the mount and thus the camera will become part of the car, where the process trailer is introducing a separate vibration into the mix. I got to thinking about this because someone on another site asked me if using foam rubber or some such material would help dampen a car mount shot. I answered no for just the reason above. A mount should be as tight and rigid as possible because in effect you are making it part of the hero car. When shooting from another platform, then you would need as much dampening under the camera as possible to cancel out the vibration from the shooting platform. That's why on car mounts you do the whole arm -to- baby pin- triangulation- mag clamp dance, to get it as rigid as possible. Most Grips use speedrail mounts these days. You rarely ever see the old Matthews pre-fab hostess trays or hood mounts anymore. You can just do more with speedrail and the options are endless. My Key Grip uses all 1-1/2'' pipe where most guys use 1-1/4". It's just that much sturdier but can cause some frantic moments when trying to adapt with some other guys (insert car driver, rigging key) system. Panavision used to have this thing called an Autobase for car mounts that had a mag clamp that screwed into a base that the camera sat on. You don't see them much anymore (like the Weaver-Steadman), because it's just easier and more versatile to design your own stuff out of arms and rail. Somewhere, there's a warehouse full of Weaver-Steadmans and Autobases. Anyway, that's my Holiday wine fueled post on car mounts. Happy Holidays everyone.