This was super cool.
May 1st, 2013. 7:30am.
I’m riding my motorcycle to work the nicest way I know how. Marin back roads and twisties. Getting from Fairfax to the Golden Gate Bridge is awesome. Bolinas/Fairfax (BoFax) Rd. to Ridgecrest Blvd. to Panoramic Hwy. to Rt. 1. People take long vacations to ride these kinds of roads. I get to take them to work.
I get to Laurel Dell junction and there is a professional film crew preparing to film a car commercial. This happens a lot up here as Ridgecrest Blvd is used in an inordinate amount of car and other commercials. It’s an incredible sight and it’s hard to disregard the view from the road even having been on it so many times. If you visit San Francisco, take the time to drive this road.
It’s a funny sight with all the crew, catering trucks, and law enforcement. They have to close the road when doing these filming’s so a lot goes into that. CHP, State Parks rangers, MMWD rangers, and private security.
You don’t mess around on the roads when these productions are going on. One time, I got a ticket for crossing double yellow approaching one of these scenes. The CHP officer was on an overlooking ridge from where was getting nasty. That’s all he could give me since from his vantage point the CHP officer couldn’t legally determine my speed (110mph) while doing an 11 car pass into a blind corner on a wild section of Route 1. I can get a little aggressive. Nothing worse than bored law enforcement. Ha.
Today, the crew was getting ready to film a Cadillac ad and the new models were out in their glory. More important for me, though, was the camera car. This thing was incredible and I had to take the time for some pictures.
Pursuit Systems Inc. was the film crew for this project. They use a modified Porsche Cayenne Turbo. I was told that they have one Mercedes but while powerful enough for the job, it has too much body roll and pitch to be chosen over the Porsche. The stock suspension here is unmodified. Very impressive. I’m truly surprised that the springs, sway bars, and dampers were’nt swapped out given the consistent load and interest in keeping rolling and pitching to a minimum. Maybe the guy I was talking to didn’t know what he was talking about.
The film company has 5 of these rigs (car and support truck). One on the east coast and four in Los Angeles. The support truck services the vehicle and carries fuel and supplies. Another 2 trucks carry camera gear.
Five people sit in the vehicle. A driver, a cameraman, a focus-man, a boom operator, and the director. They have COM so that the camera man, boom, and director can communicate independently from the other two in the car or all together. Five point harnesses are in the car. Outside, steps allow for climbing around and over the car.
The vehicle is painted a satin/matte finish to eliminate any reflections or flaring that can show up on the subjects. Everything is shrouded with carbon fibre covers for the same reason. A skirt behind the rear wheels and front wheels prevents rocks or dust from getting kicked up.
The engineering and attention to detail that went into this vehicle is absolutely astounding. In my opinion, no corners were cut to make this rig as light as possible while excelling at the specific duties required. Note that most of the structure is welded aluminum. Huge sections of CNC machined members interlace the piece. Carbon fibre is used where best and marine fasteners ensure all weather capabilities. The closer your look at this thing the more impressive it becomes. Astounding.
Lightweight in every way is critical in this duty. With five people in the car and all the gear and boom in place, this is a staggering load to bear. The lighter everything is, the more stable and controlled the situation is. The benefits go on farther, fuel savings, safety, wear and tear, etc.. Weight is always important. Always engineer as light as you can given the allowable parameters.
Note that the car is in no way street legal. Since any filming on public road requires the road be closed, the vehicle does not need to meet DOT specification. This gives the builder full reign to make this car the absolute pinnacle of the craft. So cool.