Cinematography Mailing List - CML



Mounting Camera On Hood Of Car

Published : 2nd November 2009

I am mounting a RED on the hood of car, facing forward to capture the "POV" of the car. We will driving on the highway at 60 mph.

Using a :

- Panther multimount with ratchet straps
- Zeiss Superspeed
- Chrosziel 4X4 bellows mattebox with clear filter

I want to make sure that nothing flies off the camera. Any special precautions?


Rick Lopez

Rick Lopez wrote :

>> Chrosziel 4X4 bellows mattebox with clear filter I want to make sure that nothing flies off the camera. >>Any special precautions?

Use Series 9 round filters with screw-in or clamp-on retaining rings.
At 60 MPH your matte box will:
- either blow off
- be destroyed
- or create unwanted vibrations
- or all three of the above.

You may also want to check the local laws or conceal the camera in a luggage rack with luggage.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP

If, by chance, you can mount the camera lower on the front bumper, you will get a much more dynamic shot. Just by lowering the camera from a hood mount to a bumper mount, the road will really come to life. Also, don't forget to tape off the focus and iris as vibrations can alter their settings. Make sure you hard mount a safety strap from the auto to the camera and mount as well. The cars behind you will really appreciate it if the unexpected happens. Have extra optical flats available and a good supply of cleaning fluid and tissue.

Happy motoring.


John Sheeren
Houston, Texas

If you are planning to do the shot in question on public roads, or without a police detail, you should be aware of the legal and the liability issues involved, should something go amiss. In that case, ordinary vehicle liability insurance may not cover you in the event that you are breaking the law.

Placing objects on the hood of the car so as to obstruct the driver's vision is considered illegal in many jurisdictions.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP

>>...Placing objects on the hood of the car so as to obstruct the driver's vision is considered illegal in >>many jurisdictions...

Great observation Brian :
In Texas, we avert this by placing the entire camera AND rig inside a deer carcass. No one gives it a second glance.

Tongue thoroughly implanted in cheek,

John (PETA Member) Sheeren

I thought the Longhorn hood ornaments took up all the room on the hood on cars in Texas.

Brian Heller

Thankfully we have permits and police escort ...

Rick Lopez

Then you're good to go -- without the matte box ...

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP

Thanks for the suggestion.

Rick Lopez

Brian wrote :

>>Then you're good to go -- without the matte box

Does anyone use mattes anymore....???? Or should we just change the name to "filter box". ????

Jack Cummings
Buffalo NY

When shooting plates where I know the sky will be replaced, I will sometimes tape off that portion of the sky that is hot and might be causing veiling or soft flares in a scene... that is sort of a matte.

Mark Weingartner
LA based VFX DP

Jack my Mattebox that I use has hard Matts that I use, they go on the front and come in 5 sizes 18,25, 35, 50 and 85. Next time we are on a job together I'll show you. But most don't have that option so the name is a little lost.

I wouldn't use a filter or mattebox on a rig going 60 miles an hour just to get back to the car mount question. I tape filters on using a 1/2 inch gaffer tape with a slit every inch or so going 1/2 way through the 1/2 inch width of the tape. This way I can get it to form to the diameter of the lens and filter. I hope that is clear, easy to show hard to describe.

Jimmy Gribbins DP
Buffalo, NY

I am not familiar with the Panther Multimount, but you would want to use something pretty sturdy as your mounting base. Use 4 opposing pick points to strap the rig rather than pressure from the strap. The mattebox seems to me to be the thing you should worry about most. If it does not blow off it will almost certainly spoil the shot. You can look at some pictures on this link to my website

Hope that helps

Sanjay Sami
Key Grip

I think those "lens flare reducers" you describe are more properly called "masks," not "mattes."
"Mattes," in the historical definition, are not used much in the electronic age since it is much easier and more controllable to do in post, but we have all seen "mattes" in old movies of telescopes, binoculars, keyholes, periscopes, even heart-shaped, etc., that used to be held in the "matte" box and used to black out parts of the frame while filming.

They could also be used for in-camera split screen work, by shooting with the left half blacked out by a solid matte, for instance, then the film rewound in the camera and the right half blacked out (with the same half-screen matte flipped around) while filming something else, or even the same actor talking to himself, 75 years before blue- or green-screen.

It's the same principle as "irising" in or out, with a device in front of the lens in place of a matte box, with a variable opening iris (like in a theatrical spotlight) that could be opened or closed while the film is running (hence the name "iris rods" for the lens/matte box support rods).

It was very common to start a film sequence or scene with the iris completely closed, then gradually opening it while running. Then at the end of the last shot of the scene, the iris would be closed before shutting off the camera.

This "irising" pretty much went out of fashion when they figured out how to fade in and fade out, and then dissolve, either in the camera or when making prints from a negative, but we have all seen this in old silent movies.

There really is nothing new in movies - it's all been done before, by people like Griffith, Porter, Melies and Chaplin.

Doug Hart

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