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.


Anonymous said...

JCE use to make an incredible auto mount (post the Panavisions), but haven't seen it in use - think autobase but out of pipe. It looked solid.

Now, do you guys also use all the "Camera Rigging Accessories"? I'm looking at all this stuff from Modern Studio (pg 29) wondering where would you use it.

BTW here in Toronto, 1.5 pipe is all we use - from studio grids to car rigging and everything in between. Saves on having to adapt from one pipe size to another.

D said...

I don't have a Modern catalogue here, but we do use a lot of Modern stuff. Mainly the camera rod heads and pins (don't know the technical term for them but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). Our 4-way levelers etc. are also from Modern. Most other keys I've worked for in the US use 1-1/4" pipe. Only a few I've run into use 1-1/2" and some look at us kind of funny when we pull out the 1-1/2"

LowMode said...

Just reading this stuff. I ran across the site, I'm still waiting for things to get swinging again. A buddy of mine and I were talking to one of th b.a.'s over at 80, if they get enough interest they'll do a car mount class. I'm gonna see if I can get enough guys interested.

D said...

Welcome Lowmode. Thanks for the comments. I also think an insert car class would be good as part of the car mounts.

Anonymous said...

Hello guys,
I usually go for the most rigid mount possible. But my main D.P. asked me if I could make a car mount that is actually less rigid...!

He wants something that lets the camera nod with bumbs and corners to get more dynamics into the shot.

So how would you do something like that.

The camera shuld not actually nod but sink and rise with bumps and also have a little lateral play.

Any ideas?
Oh I forget to mention it is not for big budget movies, so budget friendly ideas would be preferred.

Greetz Dan

Mitch Reeves said...

I am rigging a Mathews hostess tray tonight,The two rings on the underside of the tray lead me to beleave these should be ratcheted to the underside of the door. Is this alone sufficient to hold the tray fast to the door?

D said...

Hi Mitch, The ratchet straps should hook under the car to the frame. You have to get down under the car and find a couple of holes or spots in the frame structure of the car that will serve. Be sure you are actually going into metal and not a plastic covering that looks like metal. Newer cars are harder to find spots on so you may have to get creative and use unibody clamps or remove a bolt add an eyebolt etc. but usually if you look hard you'll find something. The ratchets do not go to the bottom of the door. Be careful and don't forget to pad any spots where the ratchets could damage the outside visible part of the car. Hope this isn't too late.

D said...

Hi Dan, I don't know when you left this comment so I didn't answer. If you're still looking, let me know.

corner wine cabinet said...

It's quite impressive.

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