Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Cheap Digital DV Cam + Winding Roads = Fun!


I needed some sample footage for a training video I’m currently recording and thought I’d incorporate my car and the beautiful location where I live on the central coast of California called Ojai (pronounced “Oh-Hi”). So I set out around mid-day with a cheap-o digital camera/DV cam, a small table top tripod, some bungee cords and a big roll of gaffer’s tape.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do – drive my Toyota Solara convertible up to the top of the upper-Ojai ridge where it looks out over the valley and drive back down with the DV cam capturing the wheels and road off the side of my car.

So I drove up to the top of the run and pulled off the road in the lookout area. I wanted to get just the driver’s front wheel in the shot, so I first mounted the camera to the little tripod. It had a small suction cup on the bottom of the center pole which helped keep it in place while I attached gaffer’s tape to each leg and then two sets of bungee cords around the tripod head and to the top and bottom edges of the door.

I figured if anything went drastically wrong then I’d only be out the couple hundred bucks for the cheap camera. I’ll be happy to report that everything went fine. Here’s a couple pics of the setup on the car – it was truly hideous, albeit functional. 😉

So I wait for cars to go by and time it so that the cars that would be in front of me should have at least a minute head start, and then took off down the hill. I started slowly at first and then when it appeared that my goofy setup wasn’t going to fly off, I took the corners with a little more aggression. For the most part, the results were pretty good, although with the stiff suspension, it did pick up some road vibrations, since there wasn’t any give in the mount setup. I followed up with a quick “fly-by” on another side road to complete my shots for the day.

Sine the camera is actually just a digital cam that also shoots 720p, it saves the footage as QuickTime files so it’s pretty easy to just dump them on the hard drive and get right to editing. I was doing a composite and timing tutorial in After Effects CS4 so the edits were few and very easy. I think I probably took all of about 30 minutes to complete the video, including adding some sexy film look effects and putting in the logo/title at the end. I never got around to adding a soundtrack to this video it since it’s primarily just a test and a training piece, but it was a fun excuse to take a quick spin down the mountain in our back yard!

Click below to watch the 30 second “faux commercial”:

Now before you flame me for not using pro gear and a proper mount, etc… this was just an exercise in what CAN be done with cheap gear and a little ingenuity on a totally tight budget. Besides, it was all about the fun of it! 😉



One Response to “Cheap Digital DV Cam + Winding Roads = Fun!”
  1. madhav says:

    Your setup was fantastic, IMHO, very professional results.
    And your book is great too!
    If I have a question about a project, can I ask you that?
    It is about how to do color correction/matching.
    Thanks in advance.

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