Filming Driving Plates: Before the Cameras Roll

Artbeats is getting a new perspective on shooting POV footage. 

Artbeats is committed to bringing our customers footage that is difficult to shoot, and has high production value. Over the years we’ve received numerous requests for “driving plates”. We also recently spoke with the production staffs of several well-known network television studios and the consensus was the same; they need driving plates and they need them now!

So what are driving plates? A driving plate is the moving scenery seen through the windows of a vehicle when the actors of a television show or film are “driving” somewhere.

As we began researching driving plates footage, we discovered that very few companies sell footage that is shot simultaneously from every window of a car. In fact, those that do provide driving plates use only one or two cameras, making multiple passes down the road. Later, each view must be matched up by the production company and made to look as if shot during one single driving sequence. This can be a very difficult process because each pass will have different action, whether it’s traffic, pedestrians, or the location of the sun. Now that our research was done, we set out to tackle driving plates in true Artbeats fashion!

View from the inside of the car traveling down the interstate with the cameras rolling. 

Diane & Annette ready the Scarlet & Epic cameras on the custom mounting system for a drive through the streets of Portland, Oregon.

We started out by testing different cars, mounting systems and cameras. We needed a smooth ride, a car that rode lower to the ground to allow for realistic height when the cameras were mounted, a mounting system that wouldn’t jeopardize our stabilization, and low-profile cameras that offer a high enough resolution for editors to select and crop to fit a particular scene.

The round metal plate, attached to the rail system, allows the camera to be rotated at different angles without having to be detached each time.

Scarlets attached to the back of the car to shoot the three-quarter angles.

After months of testing, we settled on a 1996 Cadillac DeVille and had our own specially designed mounting system built. We chose an older car specifically for its heavier body, which had to be drilled through to attach the mounts. A monitor rail was built into the dash, and a heavy-duty specialty inverter was included to handle the extra electricity needed to run the five cameras, laptops, monitors, and switches. The electrical system also had to be totally waterproof, with cables and wires running through the body of the car and under the seats, rather than externally.

The control center for the cameras.

Phil uses the touch screen monitors to adjust camera settings from inside the car.

We also chose RED’s Epic and Scarlet cameras. Both are high quality, low-profile, and very light-weight. An entire 9-angle set of driving plates can be filmed in only two passes down the road, which greatly reduces the time needed for matching up the views in post production. The Epic and Scarlet also provide the wider resolution needed for those situations when a second pass isn’t possible.

Stay tuned as we take you along on our journey of shooting driving plates. You never know, you just might see the Artbeats camera car on the street in your city!

    One Response to Filming Driving Plates: Before the Cameras Roll

    1. Tim Bradley says:

      Nice rig there with two Epics and a Scarlet! The cameras look so small when you have them stripped down to the bare minimum as you do for the Driving plates.

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