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Filming a car stunt at 1000fps on VEO

Filming a car stunt at 1000fps on VEO

A high-speed car stunt filmed in 4K at 1000fps on a Phantom VEO 4K is the centrepiece to a new online campaign for Irwin Tools.

The brief for the three-minute documentary-style spot, produced by Hannah Dale at agency McCann, was to film the stunt ‘as live’ using multiple cameras.

Freelance DoP Craig Murdoch was handed the gig by McCann director Leif Johnson. “He approached me with the project and we collaborated on how to shoot it and which kit was best to use,” he says.

The stunt was filmed at Bentwaters Park, the former USAF airfield turned film and TV location facility in Suffolk. TV engineering solutions and consultancy HMS Engineering designed and built a ramp that was held together using Irwin clamps. Action specialists Bickers coordinated the stunt and then the driver used the ramp to launch a Ford F150 over the gap before driving away.

“As the core idea of the project was building a ramp held together with Irwin Quick Grip clamps, Leif wanted to make sure that as much time was given to the ramp as possible. Due to the nature of a stunt, it is all over pretty quickly, so by using a high-speed camera we could build the tension and give it an ‘epic’ feel in the edit."

Murdoch had used the Phantom Flex 4K on a previous shoot and loved the camera but decided it wasn’t suitable for this project.

"My experience with the Flex is that it needed a technician to help with data transcoding but on this job space was at a premium. We were on a runway and had to keep everything as clear as possible because we had a car coming at us at high speed. The Phantom VEO gave us the freedom to use with just me as a sole operator.”

The Phantom VEO gave us the freedom to use with just me as a sole operator.

Eight GoPros were attached to the vehicle and the ramp while a Sony F5 and two Sony FS7s shooting 180fps were also deployed during the stunt. Sound engineer Duncan Patterson rigged hidden mics in the vehicle and around the ramp. 

Murdoch made tests of the VEO during test drives up to and past the ramp. “These were used to double check our camera positions, audio and to make sure everyone was happy,” he explains. “This was also the point where Bickers worked out the approach speed for the jump.”

An addition to the shoot was a Motocamera from MediaMotos. One of the crew filmed the approach to the jump and a selection of close up and detail shots from the bike, using the Sony F5 and the Canon HJ15 stabilised lens.

The VEO was mounted on a tripod for the main stunt and given a Canon CN7, chosen along with the Canon CN20x50 on the Sony F5, to allow for quick resizing of shots and also to allow continuous coverage of the approaching vehicle.

Murdoch says he found the VEO very easy to use and was happy with the image quality and handling. “It is a remarkably small unit which allows many more options for how you can use the camera. Playback within the camera and being able to decide which part of the clip you want to keep are easy to implement and a great benefit when trying to manage the data captured.”

All kit (apart from Sony FS7s and F5) was supplied by VMI. This included all GoPros, an intercom kit and monitor with switchable inputs via a Decimator Quad Splitter. “We ran an SDI to one camera and the other cameras signal was sent via Teradeks. We powered the monitor via Box Batteries.

“As it was the first time that I’d used the VEO, I visited VMI for a morning to go through the camera and to familiarise myself with menu system and the best ways to choose the required footage. This was very useful as I was well prepared to use it on the day. It is a very simple camera to use, but I recommend, at the very least, a chat through how the recording and buffering system works as you can get it wrong and miss the important bit of footage especially shooting 1000fps.

 

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