Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

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Dante Harbridge Robinson

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Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostFri Jul 13, 2018 9:29 am

Hey guys, I thought I'd share my experience trying to fake shots of an actor driving a moving vehicle on a tiny budget. Have you tried this? What solutions did you find worked well?

Actors driving is a big problem. You don't want to take any chances, driving is difficult enough as it is. Combined with working with a small budget we needed a solution to help create the illusion actress Tonia Nee was driving a 1989 Jeep Cherokee.

Using the usual method of a low loader was out of the question on a budget this small.

For anyone into cinematography here's how we used a polystyrene board covered in black fabric to cut out sky reflections. This worked great for close ups. To complete the illusion of the Jeep driving we used a second reflector board covered in Rosco silver stipple to bounce sunlight into the vehicle. As the shot progressed we rotated the board back and forth to create moving reflections (think sun bouncing off a wristwatch onto a wall).

The final trick was for a couple of people to give the vehicle a big push now and then to add a few jolts. We discovered this worked best between spoken lines, but we made sure the jolts were random.

Fortunately, the scene involved the vehicle being full of bags, which we used to cover the windows.

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michaeldhead

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostFri Jul 13, 2018 2:14 pm

Cool setup - are the bags enough to cover the fact that there's no driving? I've done similar setups before but using green screens, and it turned out...ok.

I've thought a lot recently about using a trailer to create a process car, but havn't needed to do it yet. Let us know how the final shots turned out.
Michael D Head
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Dante Harbridge Robinson

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostFri Jul 13, 2018 3:10 pm

Thanks!
I'd say the effect was convincing to me about 20% of the time, mostly when the bounce light movement was just right.
There is a shot at the end of the trailer from a low angle http://kck.st/2La7UCY

The bags did a pretty good job, although it took us time to arrange them properly for each shot. I had considered using a greenscreen, but felt like there were already too many vfx shots in this movie and I don't like keying them that much, so I've tried to think of other methods.
To put it in perspective, there are around 70 vfx shots in the movie, each of them takes me about 3 hours average.
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Gene Kochanowsky

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostSat Jul 14, 2018 1:25 am

Has anyone tried a tow dolly?
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John Brawley

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostSat Jul 14, 2018 7:01 pm

Gene Kochanowsky wrote:Has anyone tried a tow dolly?


Banned in many parts of the world because they're unsafe. Certainly in many parts of Australia.

Because driving in a car is so restrictive in terms of what you're legally allowed to (and be safe) i've ended up using a technique where I mix both.

Get in the back and shoot from the rear passenger seats doing actor driving. This can be done more or less safely because there's only the actor "acting" and driving. Not ideal, but less restrictive than also making them drive with rigs and contraptions that alter the size and shape of their vehicle and affect visibility.

So actor driving from the rear shots, then I get on a long slider out in front of the car and as long a lens as I can and position the car with a deep background that MOVES.

By being a little higher than eyeline and shooting into the road also helps.

The sliding backwards and forwards with a bit of creative operating and the occasional real moving car in the deep background, it usually works well.

This works well because it lets the actors focus on acting and keeps everyone safe yet is real enough (with rear operated shots) to be convincing in the cut.

watch from about 3:30


This would have been about a 300mm shot through the front of the car.


JB
John Brawley
Cinematographer
Atlanta
Georgia
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Savannah Miller

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostSat Jul 14, 2018 9:29 pm

Green screen is good depending on your budget. The key with green screen is your bg driving plates need to be 100% stabilized to where the're almost "locked" off. If you're good at compositing, they're pretty quick to do in post.

Funny idea I just had is call AAA, and get them to tow your car on a flatbed and film while sitting in the car!
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Timothy Cook

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Re: Faking Actor Driving a moving vehicle

PostSat Jul 14, 2018 9:57 pm

John Brawley wrote:
Gene Kochanowsky wrote:Has anyone tried a tow dolly?


Banned in many parts of the world because they're unsafe. Certainly in many parts of Australia.

Because driving in a car is so restrictive in terms of what you're legally allowed to (and be safe) i've ended up using a technique where I mix both.

Get in the back and shoot from the rear passenger seats doing actor driving. This can be done more or less safely because there's only the actor "acting" and driving. Not ideal, but less restrictive than also making them drive with rigs and contraptions that alter the size and shape of their vehicle and affect visibility.

So actor driving from the rear shots, then I get on a long slider out in front of the car and as long a lens as I can and position the car with a deep background that MOVES.

By being a little higher than eyeline and shooting into the road also helps.

The sliding backwards and forwards with a bit of creative operating and the occasional real moving car in the deep background, it usually works well.

This works well because it lets the actors focus on acting and keeps everyone safe yet is real enough (with rear operated shots) to be convincing in the cut.

watch from about 3:30


This would have been about a 300mm shot through the front of the car.


JB


The reflections off the side of the car when pulling into the hospital area, reminded me of hanging out on the QotS set during the "Black SUV/gun fight" scene.

"Hey, all you knuckleheads standing over there, the side of this SUV is a giant mirror and I can see you in the shot". -JB.

:P lol
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