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Shooting motorcycles at track


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#1 sneeze proof

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 08:01 PM

Hi all

I'm going to be shooting some motorcycle action at our international grand prix race circuit.
The intention is to create some different products from this.

1. To create a web video (and possible tv) commercial for a product for motorcycles (which a friend has
based a business around).

2. To create another web (and possible tv) commercial for the organisers of the event - I figured this would also help to get into positions around the track that might usually be not allowed, and the footage used would be the same sort of coverage.

3. To have some good material to cut together for a reel

4. To produce a very cool DVD for all the people involved - as they love watching themselves race around the track on their bikes.

My experience with a camera (Sony PDX10P) is shooting interviews only. I've never done anything outside and certainly have never done anything sport, or high action / speed.
So this is the first time I'll be shooting something that moves and getting funky with the camera. I really have only a vague idea on what sort of coverage to get and even less of an idea on angles, positions etc....
There will be other cameras around on the day and some people do have lipstick lenses etc.. so there will be some onboard stuff to work with.
I'm not scared to get in close and experiment, but I was hoping to have some guidance so I don't come home with everything experimental and nothing useable.

The plus is I have a practice day at another track about a month before this one happens so I'll have 1 day of experience to reflect upon and review.

Could anyone who has any advice to offer please chime in?
What sort of coverage / angles / ideas etc.... do I need to make a fun, high energy, funky motorsport type video?
How should I behave with the camera? Should I get in close and try to get some cool angles and close ups without much experience or should I be a little conservative and just make sure the compositions are not completely horrible?
Any sort of guidance would be great.

I am an editor so I have seen plenty of good and bad shots, but capturing them myself is a whole other thing.
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#2 Dickson Sorensen

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 09:03 PM

Could anyone who has any advice to offer please chime in?


The number one thing is to make sure no one gets hurt. Meet with the organizers and find out where you can get access. Get all the proper passes worked out so that you don't have delays during the race. If you are working with a support team work out your communications ahead of time. Plan your shots ahead of time if possible and think about how you will move from location to location. During a race there is always a lot of confusion, crowd control issues and lack of time to get the shot.

An AD I once worked with taught me a valuable tool. We we shooting for a race team. He got us all hats and jackets for the team. These weren't the official ones but the ones that you buy at the consessions. Where ever we went the officials assumed that we were part of the team and let us through. Rarely did we have to stop and show our credentials. It also made it easy to spot each other in the crowd.

If you are an editor you know what shots you will need to cut together a great film.
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#3 sneeze proof

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:11 AM

I'm lucky enough that this is a small enough event that crowd shouldn't be an issue, but that's a great idea about getting a shirt and cap from a team, or the organisers.
Would have never thought of that.
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#4 Erdwolf_TVL

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 02:40 PM

Hi all

I'm going to be shooting some motorcycle action at our international grand prix race circuit.
The intention is to create some different products from this.

1. To create a web video (and possible tv) commercial for a product for motorcycles (which a friend has
based a business around).

2. To create another web (and possible tv) commercial for the organisers of the event - I figured this would also help to get into positions around the track that might usually be not allowed, and the footage used would be the same sort of coverage.

3. To have some good material to cut together for a reel

4. To produce a very cool DVD for all the people involved - as they love watching themselves race around the track on their bikes.

My experience with a camera (Sony PDX10P) is shooting interviews only. I've never done anything outside and certainly have never done anything sport, or high action / speed.
So this is the first time I'll be shooting something that moves and getting funky with the camera. I really have only a vague idea on what sort of coverage to get and even less of an idea on angles, positions etc....
There will be other cameras around on the day and some people do have lipstick lenses etc.. so there will be some onboard stuff to work with.
I'm not scared to get in close and experiment, but I was hoping to have some guidance so I don't come home with everything experimental and nothing useable.

The plus is I have a practice day at another track about a month before this one happens so I'll have 1 day of experience to reflect upon and review.

Could anyone who has any advice to offer please chime in?
What sort of coverage / angles / ideas etc.... do I need to make a fun, high energy, funky motorsport type video?
How should I behave with the camera? Should I get in close and try to get some cool angles and close ups without much experience or should I be a little conservative and just make sure the compositions are not completely horrible?
Any sort of guidance would be great.

I am an editor so I have seen plenty of good and bad shots, but capturing them myself is a whole other thing.


- Arrive EARLY and take lots of shots of the empty track and stadium. Especially if the track is scenic.

These are useful for creating contrasting scenes to the chaos to follow!

- Shoot lots of behind the scenes stuff. Preparations, bikes arriving, bar talk, the stadium.

Everyone will be watching the bikes. Show them a bit of the action they missed out on.

- Mix ample tracking and stationary shots for variety when editing

- Use neutral, subsued music in the background if you plan to use music at all

- Try to get as close to the bikes as is safe (zooming will loose the engine noise!)

- Try to get some tarmac-level shots (if safe)

- Use a tripod

- Don't stand in the crowd!
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#5 sneeze proof

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 04:29 PM

That's a big big help - thankyou! :)
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#6 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 11:52 PM

Used to do this alot. You can see a short clip from some stuff I shot a few years ago here in the States.

Quicktime Version

Flash Version

Make sure you get all the proper credentials before hand. Make sure you get the rights to use the video you shoot. In MotoGP, there are many licensing deals and you must be aware of who has the licensing rights to the series. We were working on a documentary of a particular rider here in the States when the television rights to the series was sold to one of the major cable channels. And the deal they worked out was that they had the rights to all video shot at the track on a race weekend. Even if they did not shoot it themselves. We would have had to pay them $1000 per minute, for the footage we shot ourselves. Absolutely ridiculous, but that kind of stuff happens. So find out up front.

If you try to do tracking shots like the ones in the video above, put the camera on manual focus and then find a spot down the track and zoom in and focus on that spot. Practice zooming out smoothly as the riders approach. As you go wider, your depth of field will increase and the rider will stay pretty much in focus.

Be careful, the bikes are moving very fast and make sure you are not a distraction to any of the riders. Oh yeah, and have fun.

-Tim Carroll
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#7 sneeze proof

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 05:47 PM

Well I had the practice day on the weekend just passed, and was quite please with the experience.
One thing I did not account for was insurance - to get inside the track (the infield) to shoot from the inside of some corners I needed to provide my own insurance. I thought I would be covered by the organisation along with the marshalls but, at least I know now. So I had to shoot from the outside of corners but still got some decent shots.

I wandered around and was shooting from everywhere I thought might be interesting - some shots turned out really well, some are just plain boring but I was getting a good feel of where to be and what to do.

Those 1 litre superbikes really get going - I found it difficult getting down the technique of panning and zooming and keeping it all framed nicely but, I guess that comes with practice.

Great fun though.
I'll post up a couple of screen grabs if anyone wants to see.
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Technodolly

Willys Widgets

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

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Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

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