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For those needing a West Coast setting there's bound to a shot that will make your project a success
Problem: Your project has a scene where two characters are driving in a car and having a discussion. You don't have the budget to tow a car around town, and you certainly don't want to risk damaging your camera by attaching it to a moving vehicle and driving on a busy street.
Solution: Driving Plates from Artbeats
Long ago (see here), I tested a couple of mounting methods for DV and DSLR cameras. While the gear was useful, I remember it taking several hours to get all the angles needed for the review as I had to mount the camera, drive the route, move the camera, drive the route, and so on.
What Driving Plates from Artbeats offers is a way to get your shot out of the way without a lot of hassle.
http://www.youtube.com/embed/9OL6h9ZDjqc for full screen video
THE PROS: WOWZA
The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw this collection, was "WOWZA! This collection is going to fix a large number of production issues involving characters driving in cars." Shot from five or nine different angles, Driving Plates offers enough variety to cover all of your in-car action.
According to Artbeats:
A 5-Angle set consists of four panoramic (wide) views shot from the front, back and sides of the car, as well as a reflection plate. (See chart below for actual resolution of each angle.) The reflection plate (angle #5) is the image you see reflected on the windshield. A 9-Angle set is filmed in two passes down the same section of road. With this type of set, you'll not only get the front, back, sides and reflection plate, but also the 3/4 angles from the left front, right front, left back and right back of the car.
Personally, I like the 9-angle shots as there are a number of times the 3/4 view comes in handy. I do understand the reason why doing nine-angle shots are not possible, but having a variety of angles to choose from is always good. The fact that Artbeats shot a reflection plate sealed the deal as it can be used to really solidify the effect.
THE CONS: Price and Location
Of course with any product, there are a few nitpicks that popped up when I worked with this footage. The first is the lack of locations and lengths. In the first collection, you have the choice of driving through a couple of cities in Oregon (Portland, Roseburg), or through portions of Southern California (Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica). While I appreciate the various locations in these cities, if the project takes place in Las Vegas or New York, then this collection simply won't work for you. And if you have a scene that lasts longer than three minutes, you run the risk of running out of footage. Granted, most car scenes are not going to last that long, but it is something users should be aware of. Though Driving Plates gives users a variety of locations during various times of day, it would have been nice to have the same route at different times of day (morning, noon, twilight). The demo reel seems to indicate that there shots that are the same, but the descriptions I read don't seem to be alike. Finally, to really get the background plate and the interior to blend, someone on the post production team is going to have to figure out how to get the lighting and shadows to match.
These are general issues that really don't detract from the collection, and I'm sure if there is enough demand, Artbeats will make a trip to other cities in the future.
The other concern is in the pricing for each shot. With each shot coming in at just under $3,000, it's a lot to swallow for the small production where that price could be one-fifth the budget. Though I don't know what the sales numbers are a couple of months after release, if the price dropped by half or more, I imagine there would be more productions willing to buy one ore more shots for their project.
FINAL VERDICT: Worth Considering
Buying or renting a five to nine GoPros, Red Ones, or even Canon 5D Mark III, the mounting equipment needed to secure the cameras on the car, and then finding the right day to shoot your own footage is a fool's nightmare. Sure you could do it, but considering the day rate for a Red Scarlet without a lens will set you back $500, you'll end up paying more for equipment rental than the cost of buying one clip from Artbeats. The next collection definitely needs to expand East, but for those needing a West Coast setting, there's bound to a shot that will make your project a success, and that alone makes Driving Plates worthy of consideration.
Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at
www.majorspoilers.com and www.stephenschleicher.com