How Are Car Chases Filmed?

Science Illustrated - - SPECIAL EFFECTS -

In ma­jor film pro­duc­tions, car chases are of­ten shot us­ing a Rus­sian arm – a ro­botic crane mounted on the roof of a mod­i­fied car. In spite of the in­creased weight caused by the equip­ment and the al­tered cen­tre of grav­ity, the car has enough en­gine power to ac­cel­er­ate fast.

The arm is gyro-sta­bilised, en­sur­ing that the cam­era is sta­ble dur­ing the car chase. The gyro-sta­bil­i­sa­tion makes sure that the cam­era re­mains hor­i­zon­tal and steady all the time, no mat­ter the sur­face. The word gyro comes from gy­ro­scope – a ro­tat­ing wheel on a shaft, which is used to coun­ter­act mo­tion of a spe­cific di­rec­tion.

The ef­fect of the ro­tat­ing wheel is the same as when you hold a ro­tat­ing bike wheel in a ver­ti­cal po­si­tion. If you try to turn the wheel over on one side, the gy­ro­scopic force of the ro­ta­tion will at­tempt to coun­ter­act the mo­tion, which has the ef­fect of sta­bil­is­ing the wheel in an up­right po­si­tion.

A crane with a gyro-sta­bilised cam­era was used for the shoot­ing of the most re­cent Trans­form­ers film.

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