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Thread: Why are my off road videos boring?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Default Why are my off road videos boring?

    Greetings everyone! I enjoy driving off road and occasionally I'll attach a camera to the windshield to film my trip. Several times I have been in very steep and trecherous terrain that looked rather horrifying through the windshield. However, when I play back the clip of what I though would be an exciting moment it looks rather bland and sedate. Never do I capture how steep or trecherous the road looks through my eyes in the vehicle. Any suggegestions on how I should shoot the videos? Keep in mind that typically the camera needs to be mouted in a fixed position as your hands are holding onto the vehicle and not available to manipuate the camera while driving. Thanks!

  2. #2


    It would help if you could post an example example of what the camera currently sees.
    I find clips of cams attached to cars can show the vibrations of vehicle as it bounces around but there is often too little information to guage the speed of the vehicle; or whether the vehicle is going up or down a steep hill.
    Would a wider angle lens allow more of the terrain and the path to be seen?
    Is there a suitable way to hang the cam so that it automatically stays at the same angle in the forward axis? Then, Could the skyline enhance the virtual experience for the viewer?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Blog Entries


    The simple answer is the camera position. To get a greater dramatic impression, you would need to position multiple cameras at more extreme points. This provides a better frame of reference. I would suggest you invest on a suction mount and / or a gopro cam to mount on the body work. You don't need to have multiple cams... Just have multiple runs!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011


    Tim, I'll try to dig something up to give as an example. Last few times out I have only used my cell phone attached to a suction mount on the inside of the front windshield.

    Marc, you just gave me an idea. I have an older digital camera that is waterproof and shoots video. It is also something that I would not lose sleep over if it got destroyed in the process. It is only 640x480 but I'm not looking to produce anything special with the clips. I'm just looking to have something for YouTube to memorialize some of the more interesting (or stupid) moments of my adventures. My cell phone will do HD at 720P but it has to stay inside the 4x4 as it would not survive outside.

    When you guys say to use more extreme angles, would that be like mounting the camera low under the front bumper or up high on the roof? I was also wondering if maybe shooting off at an angle versus straight ahead would give more information? I know nothing about filming so I'm starting from scratch here. Hanging the cam sounds interesting but would only work when going slowly over an obstacle as normally you are being bounced around a lot in the vehicle.

    I'm going to look for a tripod mount that I can rig up to attach to various parts of the exterior of the 4x4 to start to experiment a little. But as not to reinvent the wheel, any tips on positioning the camera are appreciated.

    Going over the same area multiple times to shoot the same scene at various camera angles is not something I would want to do. I don't have a death wish and sometimes I wonder why I even did it once! LOL. Probably most of my shooting will be one take from the camera inside and possibly with one other camera attached to the outside of the 4x4.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    I think Marc's mention of reference points is what's key. When you are in the cab going up an incline, your sense of balance tells you this. To quote from New Scientist's "Why Can't Elephant's Jump"
    "Our balance system is contolled by three senses cooperationg in complex harmony. The vestibular system in our inner ear informs us about the position of our hear; our eyes tell us how our body is located in relation to the external world; and proprioceptors - receptors in muscles and joints - help us figure out how our body is positioned in space ..."

    With video we can only represent one of those three and so it cannot hope to convey the same sort of excitement as being on location. Furthermore, whilst in life the eyes can flash between looking at external frames of reference (especially the horizon or anything vertical), internal views of the vehicle and views of the immediate terrain, editing cuts at a similar speed would not work (when we do it in life the brain knows where it is looking in relation to our location, in a film it takes a second to re-orientate onesself). Additionally, the video camera only takes in what's in front of the lense - there isn't the peripheral vision that we experience in life.

    So, you really need some way of showing the vehicle in relation to the horizon/horizontal and vertical. As Marc says, use extreme angles and positions to exagerrate this. This is the principle anyway. As to how you achieve it - well I'll leave that to your imagination.

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