Filming Driving Plates: Traversing the Speed Bumps

After months of testing, and even more months rigging the car, we were ready to hit the road for our first driving plates film shoots. As with every first-time venture, ours was not without its problems. In fact, it seemed that our first shoot in Portland, Oregon was the “Murphy’s Law” of film shoots. Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong…from our GPS dying the minute we hit the city, to remote trigger problems, to card reader failures, to overheating, and everything in between. But as you know, “difficult to shoot subject matter” is our middle name. So we pressed on and got some terrific footage.

Our second shoot took us to Southern California and a multitude of incredible locations. This shoot was both a learning experience and an adventure. Some of the locations require that we arrange for police escort for the day. This poses a challenge when the focus of the shoot is to capture the scenery and traffic all around the car. What good are driving plates if every scene shows the car being tailed by the police?! We did get one great shot of the squad car “pulling us over”. No way were we going to pass up that opportunity! Of course it wasn’t quite so opportune the next day when we got pulled over for real because of the rig. Seems even if you have all of your permits in place, it doesn’t mean you won’t still have to jump through more hoops once you’re on location.

Heat was definitely a factor on this trip, as well. Turns out we chose one of the hottest weeks of the year to traipse around California. It’s not often we find ourselves playing nursemaid to the cameras with icepacks, but fortunately we were able to keep all of the equipment functioning properly by being proactive in dealing with the heat.

We had some peculiar experiences on the shoot as well. Our Caddy was quite often mistaken for the Google car. Go figure! And we were once stopped by a group of protestors who walked out into the street as we drove up, blocking our way and swarming the car while chanting and waving their signs. We’re still not sure what they were protesting!

So, what have we learned so far? Because of triggering problems, the RED One isn’t ideal for this type of shooting. Instead, the Scarlet is a much better choice. Running a car with five cameras and monitors takes a lot of power and creates a LOT of heat, so the car must be rigged with at least one extra battery. Bring more media storage than you think you’ll need, because there’s always one more shot you wish you could have gotten, if only you’d had the storage space. And, the best lesson we can pass on is to know the laws of the city and state you’re filming in before you set out.

All in all both shoots were very successful. The footage is spectacular and we were able to capture a wide variety of locations, at different times of day and night. It’s true we started out wondering how we would ever make it through all of the twists and turns and giant potholes in the road. But in the end it was definitely worth the effort.

Have you ever had a film shoot that got off to a rocky start and ended with amazing footage? We’d love to hear your experiences and how you overcame those speed bumps!

3D Morphing Superman Logo a tutorial by Maltaannon

Maltaannon created this new tutorial featuring Artbeats footage as the background cityscape with a cool morphing 3D Superman logo. He uses After Effects and ShapeShifter AE by Mettle.

Learn more and watch the tutorial on Mettle’s website.