Dating back to at least Claude LeLouche strapping a gyro-stabilized head to the front of his personal Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9 for C'était un rendez-vous, filmmakers have dreamed of using their own cars as camera platforms. Renting a Russian Arm is expensive, of course, and if you already own a car, it's been frustrating that there isn't a widely available, one stop solution.

Now there is with the MotoCrane, a three item kit (ARMA jib, ACRO gimbal head and ATILIS base) which is designed to work with a wide variety of cars. If you have a solid roof (no ragtops, and a sunroof requires a solid chunk behind it), between 2.5' and 4' square, you should have what you need to mount a controlled panning, jibbing, and rotating arm to your roof.

Controlled via an iPad ideally set up for an operator with a monitor in the passenger seat, the MotoCrane should be able to accomplish a wide variety of shots in some pretty intense circumstances. The unit comes stabilized with 110mm brushless motors and with two lens control motors built in, allowing the operator to control focus and zoom remotely while keeping the camera smooth at high speeds. The rig boasts a top speed of 80mph, providing smooth footage with a built wire rope vibration dampening system. Mounted to an off-road vehicle you can adjust the dampening for the different requirements of slower travel over rougher roads and pull off some pretty dynamic moving camera shots. 

Motocrane_setupMotoCrane SetupCredit: MotoCrane

Of course, it goes without saying that this type of work requires both experience and permitting to be done safely. Even though the MotoCrane can mount to any car, shooting with moving cars of any sort on public roads is hazardous, and should be done in conjunction with local law enforcement or entertainment permitting department. It's not just a matter of the camera car driver getting distracted by a shot and doing risky maneuvers on the road, or the crane operator driving the camera into another vehicle. It's also that other drives could potentially get distracted seeing a car driving down the road with a massive swinging arm moving around on top of a car and that itself could cause an accident. As in all areas of film production, be cautious.

Motocrane_3-640x4272xMotoCrane OperationCredit: MotoCrane

Available this spring from MotoCrane.

Tech Specs:

  • 25lb maximum payload
  • 80 mph maximum vehicle speed
  • 4 seconds for a full 360° swing
  • Operating temperature MIN: -30ºF, MAX: 120ºF  *Over-heat protection
  • 12V, 10 Amp Cigarette Lighter plug for power
  • 2.5' x 2.5' MIN, 4' x 4' MAX flat, not fabric, not glass mounting area required on car roof.
  • 95lb system weight (unloaded)
  • Aluminum and carbon fiber construction