One of the best ways to add production value to a project is by having a well produced car sequence. However, it can be challenging if you don’t have the proper stabilization. You can try a variety of DIY methods, but you risk ruining your shot, your camera or your (or someone else’s) car in the process. Fortunately, the the folks at Matthews Studio Equipment have a solution: The Pro Mount System.
In this video, we break down a variety of optimal ways to set up and operate the Pro Mount System so you can get the best results every time. For this demonstration, we’re using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, as it is similar in size and weight to most small to mid-sized cameras you would use with the Pro Mount System. Anything over 25 pounds, and you’ll want to move to the more robust Master Mount System.
The Pro Mount System, uses three suction cup mounts, the Matthews Ball Head (BH-20) , three rods and two MICROGrip heads as well as a hot shoe adapter. With these items alone, you can achieve shots from hood, roof or rear glass to create a variety of different shots. Once you triangulate your camera with the thee rods and their accompanying mounts, the camera will be incredibly stable and will only move when the vehicle itself moves. Keep this in mind, because when your car hits a bump, the camera will move with it, but you won’t see any secondary reverberation as long as the system is properly in place.
This short is made up of footage we gathered over several days at Lake Hollywood in Los Angeles. Here, you can see just some of the different shots you can get with the Pro Mount System including shots from the hood, side panel and wheel. Although the views are spectacular, the roads leave a bit to be desired as they are steep and pock marked with cracks and deep potholes.
This video features a few shots we achieved by mounting the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to the hood of the car while cruising through some of the rough and winding roads of Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The road here is very old and full of large cracks and potholes with steep grade. If the Pro Mount System can deliver smooth shots over this terrain, it can certainly do well in normal conditions.
This is footage shot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera mounted on the side vehicle. To achieve this shot, you’ll need an additional accessory not included in the Pro Mount System: the Magic Riser.
To use it, simply remove the ball head and mount the Magic Riser directly to the suction cup. Then mount the ball head to the top of the Magic Riser.
This is our front, driver side tire shot, which is a staple in many driving sequences. We achieved this the same way as the side shot, only we moved the Pro Mount System, Magic Riser and BMPCC down and closer to the wheel itself.
Although it make look risky, once you triangulate the suction cups and rods, your rig is completely safe.
- Ensure your car (or whatever surface you’re mounting to) is clean and free of debris.
- Make certain the red ring on the suction cup pump is below the line. If the red ring starts to show, then the seal on the suction cup is compromised. At the very least, this could ruin your shot. Worse case scenario, the camera may come off.
- Use a safety chain or strap in case the rig and camera are compromised. This may not save your camera from damage, but it will help ensure that it doesn’t cause damage to your car or injury to others.
- Mount on glass when you can — nothing seals like glass.
- Do not pitch the rods too steep. Instead, spread them as far laterally as you can to minimize vibrations.
- Make sure your hood, trunk or wherever you mount is not loose. If the hinges on your hood are loose, the camera will shake and jitter.
- Check your local laws about filming, permits, and camera mounts on cars. I was pulled over three times by park rangers asking me what I was doing. Fortunately, they never asked for a filming permit or additional insurance. However, when you strap a camera to your car, you expect to attract attention from law enforcement and others.
The Matthews Pro Mount System retails for $658. The Magic Riser is retails for retails for $175. Both are available for sale through Matthews’ network of dealers.
For more information on the Matthews Pro Mount System, and all of the other products from Matthews, go to their website at www.msegrip.com
Check out more pictures from this review at our Flickr Set.