There are just shots you can't do without a camera-mounted crane. Sure, a normal camera car lets you get some great angles, but they stay fixed in their position on the car.

You can get some pretty cool car shots these days with a drone, but getting super close to a moving car with your drone presents issues.

If you want to get dynamic, moving shots swinging near a car at high speed, you need a crane mounted to your camera car. You basically can't do action work, or car commercials, the modern way without it.

Most of the market is dominated by owner/operators and a few small companies selling boutique gear.

California-based Top Crane aims to change that with their new Ghost One, a camera crane kit that can be mounted to a wide variety of vehicles or even packed up in a small number of travel cases.

The Top Crane Ghost One is a 15- or 20-foot car-mounted crane capable of holding an 80-pound payload. It's compatible with all the major stabilized heads, including the Shotover G1, B1, M1, Movi XL, and Pro, DJI Ronin 2, ARRI SRH-3, ARRI Trinity, and several more, giving you a ton of options for what sort of camera you might want to fly. 

 And it comes in at roughly half the weight of comparable units, which makes it more mobile and easier to work with overall and allows for more nimble shots.


When thinking about what is on offer here, it's important to remember that a modern camera crane has stabilization built into the crane arm itself for smoother moves. For the Ghost One, that comes in the form of the Phantom Stabilization Algorithm, a twin gyro-driven motor feedback system, which uses thousands of calculations a second to smooth out the roughness of whatever terrain you are traveling over. This system is designed to work in collaboration with whatever stabilized head you have at the end of the arm, so the two systems work together for the smoothest shots.

One of the standout features of the system is that it packs up neatly in five flight cases. Dreaming of flying to a distant country and doing high-end car work with your (appropriately specced and insured) rental car? Top Crane wants the Ghost to be the avenue to do that. 

With a setup time of around an hour to almost any vehicle capable of supporting the weight, this is truly a travel-friendly option. It's also relatively lightweight, coming in at 240 pounds for the crane system and 160 pounds for the batteries, for a total of only 400 pounds for the whole package.


Now, the Ghost isn't "cheap" by indie filmmaker standards, coming in at $100,000 or so depending on how you set it up, but that is radically affordable by camera crane standards, which opens it up to other markets.

If you financed it (which you can do on the Top Crane website), you could put yourself in a position where it's only costing you a few thousand dollars a month. If you built a strong car business, you could easily cover that and turn it into a profitable avenue.

For those of us who don't want to pursue a dedicated car career, there is still value in more disruption in the space.

If the Ghost does well, the next time you need to find an affordable day with a car rig, there should be more options and variety in the space to let you maybe find a way to add that shot to your production.

Check out Top Crane for more.