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filming car chase scene


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#1 Arun Siva

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:30 AM

hello all

as part of my feature film, there will be an epic car chase (similar to that of the great steve mcqueen movie "Bullitt" and I was wondering, how does one go about in shooting a long sequence like that one? How many cameras do you think would be needed and placements well?

Thanks for the help everyone
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#2 Arun Siva

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 12:31 PM

also,
how were should the shot be taken place? i have it planned to be set on several large parking lots.

thanks
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#3 Arun Siva

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 03:46 PM

also, if anyone can give some editing tips and exactly how many cameras would be needed for this complex scene(s)
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 06:45 PM

The chase in "Bullitt" was performed by professional stunt drivers with some scenes driven by Steve McQueen, who was no slouch behind the wheel himself. The Dodge Charger was apparently pretty much stock (which shows if you single frame through the chase scenes) but the Mustang was virtually a GT-350 having spent some time at Carroll Shelby's shop being prepared for the film. Many of the shots were taken from an insert car that was itself virtually a race car.

Even though the chase was designed by professionals, they still managed to kill an Arri 2C that was positioned behind a parked car when the Dodge driver overcooked a turn.

Most of the film shot in "Bullitt" was not undercranked like many chase scenes. The reason that chase is so exciting is because it's the real deal: Full size vehicles in real time being driven at speed through a major city. You are biting off a very large chunk of automobile if you really want to create a chase that's as good as the one in "Bullitt" - and I doubt that in this litiguous age you'd get a city to go along with allowing such a chase on city streets or even in a parking lot. I hate to think of how much insurance you'd have to buy to get anyone to even talk to you about a "Bullitt" style chase. But if you pull it off I'll be the first in line to buy a ticket.
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 07:45 PM

You should really talk to a stunt coordinator about that. Also regarding camera placement, to know which positions are safe and which needs remote control.
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#6 Arun Siva

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 11:22 PM

thanks for the replies

i know that it isnt quite feasible to shoot one just like it but i was wondering what could I do to possibly make a car chase scene as stunning as the one in bullitt with the limited resourecs?

thanks
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#7 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:10 AM

That's kinda like saying "How do I fly NY to Paris non-stop in a glider?" Re-write the scene, you can't do something that grand on a limited budget, AND if someone gets killed or badly hurt, which when you cut corners on something like this is very likely to happen, their families are gonna come after you!

There is ONE way you could do this, not the best way but a way you might actually be able to afford. CGI and miniatures. IF you can find some large (1/4 scale) model R/C cars and paint them to exactly match the full size cars and watch you camera angles so you can force perspective, you MIGHT be able to pull it off. ALSO, if you film the live action on empty streets panning and zooming as the though the actual cars were there then layer in CGI cars in post, you might be able to make it work.

The ONLY way you could get away with full sized, actual cars with your budget is to undercrank the camera by 30 to 40 %, film the sequences at about 30 MPH, set the camera close to the action so the speed appears to be much faster again due to the cameras perspective, THEN cut in a ton of reaction shots and some apparent near misses (due to camera angle, lens used and skillful editing) a few crashes through trashcans and cardboard boxes (nothing that would damage the cars or the people driving them), then play the whole thing back at 24FPS....it might work. That's pretty much what the did on French Connection but even then they had 3 or 4 wreaks. The illusion of speed can be just as effective as actual speed for a film. B)
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#8 Arun Siva

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:04 AM

wow
very insightful

thanks for the ideas i will def try those out
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#9 Arun Siva

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 02:58 PM

what types of shots are ideal again for this scene?

thanks
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#10 Max Jacoby

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 04:20 PM

What's the budget for your feature?
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#11 Matt Pacini

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 06:18 PM

I would suggest renting "Duel".
It's not wall to wall action car chases, but it's a good example of how lots of inserts, reaction shots, etc., can really accentuate the action, without being about constant footage of the car(s), but the drivers, etc.
It's pretty dated (1971), but it's a good movie, plus it's interesting to watch, as it's Speilberg's first feature film.

MP
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#12 Arun Siva

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 07:12 PM

good deal

ill def. rent that
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#13 Tom Banks

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Posted 06 March 2008 - 11:57 PM

I did a large amount of car chase scenes over the summer for a feature I shot. This was the first time I had done anything like this or worked with a stunt team. I guess our resources were slightly larger than what you'll have available but perhaps I can offer some more ideas or perhaps a workflow to come up with your own sequence that works.

In my situation we had stunt drivers, the town police, and a few sections of downtown that we had the option to block off. But due to our shooting schedule we were still under huge constraints to shoot an impressive car chase. Like others have mentioned above, your biggest learning tool is to watch and break down previous car chases. Take note to specific shots and how they are cut.

The philosophy I used when going into shooting and coming up with shots is figuring out first the most complex shots that will sell the chase. For example, the shots where two cars narrowly miss each other in the same frame (stunt drivers obviously!). Then with the money shots in place we shot an ample amount of "filler" to cut to, these shots were actually the meat of the sequences. While we still used stunt drivers, they were less complicated to the extent that there wasn't any complicated choreography. We rigged our two cameras onto our stunt cars. One sat right infront of the bumper of the picture car (so it was out of view), and the other sat atop the hood of the camera car. So in effect we got a POV of the car being chased, as well as a shot of the car from behind. Along with these shots we also shot the cars rounding corners. If you watch Bullitt you'll notice this makes up a large portion of the film. The good thing about these shots is that it involves fairly simple choreography. The primary safety concern is making sure your driver is experienced and that you have traffic control. Combine all these shots with some reactions of the driver and you've got a fairly decent car chase scene!

In your situation I would seek out low-traffic areas, check with the city to see if they allow intermediate traffic control, and see if you can't plot out a car chase that make makes sense with your location.

oh, and I shot undercranked most of the time, usually 18fps but sometimes lower.
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#14 Andrew Koch

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 02:12 AM

Please change your screen name to you full name and create a signature as this is a requirement for the forum.

As far as the car chase thing goes, it is absolutely crucial that you do this by the book. Film shoots are inherently dangerous even without the involvement of vehicles. You must have professional stunt drivers if you plan on using real cars at high speeds. You need to have a stunt coordinator, proper permits, possibly and most likely be able to block traffic. You probably need to have a medic on set. Having actors driving cars is unsafe even at reasonable speeds because they might not be focused on the road if they are acting.

I noticed in one of your other posts that you are currently in highschool. Because of this, I am guessing that you have a pretty small budget and limited experience. All of the stuff I listed above can cost quite a bit of money.

I am not saying all of this to make you feel discouraged, but I cannot stress enough how important safety is. No movie of any shape or form is ever worth risking the safety of any member of the cast crew or innocent bystanders. This might seem like an obvious thing but I have been amazed at some of the shoots I have worked on with key people claiming to be professionals. For some reason these "professionals" seem to forget all about safety when they get into the moment.
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#15 Arun Siva

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 09:04 AM

thanks for the update
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