You have this great brushless gimbal and you have to shoot car footage. You have a few options, like holding the Ronin out the back of a SUV or Pick-up. Which can turn out fantastic, but what if you what something else. Well, we straped the DJI Ronin to the hood of our car. Read how we did it.
It is a simple enough idea. We wanted better looking driving footage without car vibrations making our footage unuseable. And, we needed to shoot for an extended period of time without blowing our shoulders. With the help of Blackhawk Cinema we took minimal grip gear a little thought and found a great way to mount that DJI Ronin to just about anywhere on a car so we could grab the shots we needed. A down and dirty example can be found below. There are many ways to shoot this type of material. I only offer up a single way while Matthew Jeppsen, who also writes for ProVideoCoalition, has an article coming out soon detailing how he used a Ronin on a jib for his car-to-motorcycle footage.
MOUNTING THE RONIN TO A CAR MOUNT
First you need a way to attach the DJI Ronin to a car. As long as you can find a safe and reliable mounting system that will support the combined weight of the rig (Ronin, Camera, Camera Accessories) then it should work just fine. If I were you I’d error on the side of caution. Do not push the rig’s weight limit, if it fails off the car, it turns into a very expensive mistake.
We used the Digitial Juice Spyder Pod Vehicle Camera Mounting System, damn that’s a long name. This system has a 50lb load capacity which was more than enough for the weight of our rig and the added weight caused by the force of movement, turns, and other stresses to the mount. Seriously, over-estimate how much the movement of the car will compound the weight of the rig. It’s physics. The harder the turn or car bounce, the more stress placed on the car mount. We were driving on smooth residential streets so we felt this rig was perfect for us. If we were shooting off-road then we would likely need a more robust rig.
We used this mount on the hood of a Nissan Pathfinder and the rear of a Toyota Prius. The Prius work great for getting the low shots of a car while we drove in front of it. The Pathfinder worked great at getting driving shots of the trees, the road, and passing by as well as working great as a follow camera.
The Digitial Juice Spyder Pod Vehicle Camera Mounting System is a very flexible car mount that comes fits in its own bag. You can find more about it here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/963049-REG/digital_juice_dj_spyder_pod_vcms_spyder_pod_vehicle_cam.html
QUICK RELEASE PLATE
This is the backbone to creative mounting of the Ronin. Without this one piece, you’re stuck holding the Ronin in your hands. It’s a simple enough quick plate and it’s relatively affordable. With it you can mount the Ronin on a car mount, steadicam, or anything that can bolt into the quick release plate. The options are endless.
This is the difficult part to mounting the Ronin upside-down and on a car. Shooting with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera meant pulling off an inverted balance took a lot longer than usual. There is quick a bit of factors to consider. First, make sure the contact point for the Ronin to the Car Mount needs to be a close to parallel to the ground as possible. If your car is parked on a slight incline you’ll have trouble getting the balance perfect. Lead weights can help. If you are having trouble balancing the rig and are still seeing vibrations in your footage then consider using small lead weights to really lock down the balance. I cannot be anymore clear: you want to balance the camera as well as possible. This is the best way to ensure you Ronin will give you the smoothest video.
We used a SmallHD DP4 and a Blackmagic SDI > HDMI Battery converter for our monitoring solution. The simple solution was to just gaff tape the monitor to the windsield or passenger window. The windshield was ideal because your field of view includes what you are shooting but also what is available to shoot. This meant no missed shot opportunities since by looking down at a monitor then up at the scene. It was all right in front of us.
I offer up a single solution to how to grab smooth driving shots with DJI’s Ronin. Our need was not all that extensive so what we did worked for us. Find the solution that works best for you. For more about this information check out Matthew Jeppsen’s soon to be released article about this topic
Blackhawk Cinema: http://blackhawkcinema.com/
DJI Ronin: http://www.dji.com/product/ronin
Digitial Juice Spyder Pod Vehicle Camera Mounting System: http://gear.digitaljuice.com/products/products.asp?pid=2497
Brian Hallett https://www.provideocoalition.com/bhallett