You can rig a camera on a vehicle in a million ways, and high-end productions make custom-made rigs for specific purposes. A basic car rig consists of the following parts:
Here’s an example of a single-cup design that can hold up to 68 kg (150 lbs):
With lightweight cameras weighing less than 7 kgs (15 lbs), you can try the:
For heavier cameras, take a look at the Filmtools Medium-Weight Professional Camera Mount Kit:
Here’s a quick video explaining how this is done:
Please don’t try to rig a system on a car without professional help! There’s nothing easy about it, and it’s not worth the risk. Here’s an example of a company specializing in vehicle rigging. Think twice before you plan that cool car or bike shot.
For in-vehicle stabilization, check out the next section on aerial videography.
For more information on gear and rigs for grips, check out The Grip Book, by Michael Uva.
Kites, gliders, balloons, airplanes, helicopters, cables, UFO – you can rig a camera to anything that flies, as long as the weight and aerodynamics of your camera won’t interfere with the operation of your aircraft.
The prime consideration of aerial videography is speed. If your aircraft is faster than a certain threshold (governed by its aerodynamic design and engine) it will fly smoothly without a lot of turbulence, assuming clear skies that is. If the speed falls below this threshold, the aircraft will begin to shake.
Shakes are magnified on camera. There’s no way to speed up the aircraft if you’re shooting a particular landscape or event from a low altitude. This is why helicopters are the most preferred method for high altitude aerial videography. But they almost always introduce camera shake, even on clear days and the best pilot in charge.
This is the same principle used in steadicams or other camera stabilization systems. The objective is to isolate the camera from the moving parts around it.
The device that completes a gyroscope is a Platform. A platform is any device that holds the rig in place. It could be a mini copter, a tripod, whatever. The big disadvantage of regular helicopters and aircraft flying low is that regulations usually don’t allow for it, especially in densely populated areas. Check with your local regulator to see what the rules are in your area.
For this reason, under special conditions, one might be allowed to fly smaller radio-controlled Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to cover certain events or areas. When this system takes the design of a copter, depending on the number of rotors, it can become an Octocopter (8 blades), Quadcopter (4 blades), and so on.
This platform has two major subsystems:
For DSLR and prosumer work, all you need is a simple gyroscope platform, like this one from Aerial Exposures:
For work in tough conditions, or if you want to rig directly on to a helicopter or aircraft, check out the systems from Wescam, often also used in military applications.
For a good introductory book on aerial photography, check out Small-Format Aerial Photography, by James Aber.
To see both vehicle and aerial rigs in action, check out Vincent Laforet’s excellent behind-the-scenes video of Reverie:
We’ve covered land, air and the sea. Now let’s do double of everything, with stereoscopy rigs.