Home Camera How to Use the Freedom Car Mount, Powered Matthews Studio Equipment

How to Use the Freedom Car Mount, Powered Matthews Studio Equipment

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC


@ShaneHurlbutASC

I thought it would be really cool to take you through car mounts, and we are going to Need for Speed my Lexus with some really cool and innovative car mounts from Matthews. To start, let’s take a look at Matthews Studio Equipment’s Freedom Car Mount. The idea is to make this rig as small and compact as possible so there isn’t a whole lot of weight. I’m going to show you how to make this powerful rig so that the top weight is supported right to the hood to decrease flexing in your mount.

 

Step 1: Prep Your Car

Before you even ever grab a suction mount, a grip head, or some rail, you’re going to want to prep your car so that it is ready to receive everything that you’re going to suction cup and rig to it. These suction cups are designed to not leave a mark, but I’ve had them where I’m out in the sun, we’re driving, doing a lot of car stuff, and as the sun bakes on these, it actually starts to pull the paint off. So you want to make sure you do this etiquette and prep before you’re ever going down the road of mounting your camera to a vehicle. Since this is my car, I thought I’d take extra precautions.

To prep your car, you’re going to apply Carpet Shield to the car. You can get a roll of this stuff at a hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes.

Notice how large the roll is.

Notice how large the roll is.

With the Carpet Shield, you can affix the car mount to your car because it has a very adhesive side to it. To apply the Carpet Shield, it takes a couple people. One person uses a squeegee to press the bubbles out from the wrap, another person holds the roll, and you get it to lay beautifully flat on the hood.

Notice how flat the Carpet Shield is to the hood of the car.

Notice how flat the Carpet Shield is to the hood of the car.

Lay it as flat as possible because if you have bumps in your Carpet Shield, the suction cup won’t adhere to it.

Step 2: Putting the Pieces Together

Now that your car has been prepped properly, you want to position your suction cups on areas where the hood is the strongest to ensure that your car mount is stable. I press on different parts of the hood to test which parts are the strongest.

Once you know where to place the suction cups, you’re going to first place your big suction cup.
We’re going to affix this right in the center because I want a nice two shot on the vehicle, so I can see both the passenger and the driver. I’m going to come down the hood a little and lower down into a position that so I can see out the rear a little and also the side windows, so that I can get that speed in the shot.

Notice this is the position I want to be coming at for the two shot. The red highlights what I want the camera to see.

Notice this is the position I want to be coming at for the two shot. The red highlights what I want the camera to see.

To apply the big suction cup, push on the silver button to suction the big cup down on to the hood.

Pushing the silver button to secure the big suction cup to the hood.

Pushing the silver button to secure the big suction cup to the hood.

To tell if you have the suction cup on tight, there is a convenient red line to help you. If you see a red line showing that means that your suction cup is not secured tightly. I’ll show you with a smaller suction cup. As we attach our suction cups, we will be checking to see that all suction cups are secure with no red line showing.

Make sure that there is no red line showing after you push the button,

Make sure that there is no red line showing after you push the button,

Next up, you have your rails. Here are two below, which screw together nicely. There are a total of four of these rails, so after you’ve attached the first two, attach the next two.

If you want to tighten them even more, get an Allen T-Handle wrench and screw them together through the little hole.

Using an Allen T-Handle Wrench to tighten the rails even more

Using an Allen T-Handle Wrench to tighten the rails even more

Here I have the two built rails, one in each hand.

Notice the two longer rails that have been assembled from the four original smaller rails

Notice the two longer rails that have been assembled from the four original smaller rails

With your two rails, you’re going to place them into the suction cup through the two holes and tighten the red knob on top. When you tighten the red knob, don’t crank it all the way down yet. You’re going to want to keep everything a little loose as you assemble the pieces so that it comes together easily. Once everything is in place, then you go and completely tighten everything; you go for the clamp down after everything has been put in the right position to bind it into place.

Now you’re going to want to have your quick release plate, the Ronford Baker plate, the baseplate, and camera battery power system assembled for your camera and mounted to your grip head fixture.

Then take this and slide it onto the rails. What this does is give me the ability to move the camera up or down the rail to any position on the rails. Once you have your position, lock it in by tightening the red knob.

Sliding the pieces onto the rail

Sliding the pieces onto the rail

Sliding the pieces onto the rails and tightening the red knob to lock the position

Sliding the pieces onto the rails and tightening the red knob to lock the position

With the black side handle, you can loosen this so that you can tilt and swivel the ball head to position your equipment at any angle you’d like. Once you have your position, tighten and lock it in place.

Notice the side handle gives you control over the position of your gear.

Notice the side handle gives you control over the position of your gear.

Let’s pause for a second and look at what we have before we move on to the next piece. We have our quick release ready to accept the camera, the adjustable head, and our big suction cup in place.

Notice the three parts

Notice the three parts

Expanding Our Footprint:

Now we are going to expand our footprint with a few more pieces of our Freedom Car Mount, starting with two smaller suction cups.

Notice the two extra small suction cups.

Notice the two extra small suction cups.

Each of these small suction cups has a grip head with a hole. The hole has a locking mechanism, and the grip head also locks.

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You’re going to slide your small suction cup onto the rail where you feel you have a good, stable base. Then you’re going to push the white button until the suction cup is stable and there is no red line showing.

Pushing the white button to secure the small suction cup onto the hood

Pushing the white button to secure the small suction cup onto the hood

Notice that with the suction cup on correctly, there is no visible red line.

Now you’re going to secure the second small suction cup by doing the same thing, pushing the white button until the red line isn’t visible.

Notice the red line is showing because I haven’t pushed in the button to secure the suction cup.

Notice the red line is showing because I haven’t pushed in the button to secure the suction cup.

After I’ve pushed the button to secure the suction cup, the red line is no longer visible.

Notice there is no red line because the suction cup is properly secured.

Notice there is no red line because the suction cup is properly secured.

Bring down that grip head so that both are in the same position. Then tighten the red knobs on the grip heads to lock them into place.

Notice the grip heads are both positioned at the same angle.

Notice the grip heads are both positioned at the same angle.

At this point, this is when you’re going to want to go in and clamp everything down, so tighten all of the knobs so that they’re completely secure. Once you do that, your Freedom Car Mount is ready for your camera!

Going to get the camera

Going to get the camera

Then just snap your camera into your quick release.

The camera snapping into the quick release plate

The camera snapping into the quick release plate

Turn on your camera and adjust as needed to get your shot.

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Using a Rota Pola:

For these kind of shots, there will be a lot of reflections from the car window. This is when the power of the rota pola comes in. The rota pola slides into the mattebox and has a wheel on the top of it, so you can dial in exactly how much reflection you want to disappear from the shot while you’re looking at the viewfinder.

Notice my finger is on the wheel of the rola pola. Move the wheel to adjust how much reflection you get in your shot.

Notice my finger is on the wheel of the rola pola. Move the wheel to adjust how much reflection you get in your shot.

The rota pola just slips into the matte box.

The rota pola just slips into the matte box.

These things are a lifesaver because they are quick to adjust. When you’re trying to physically rotate a 138mm round filter with your whole hand, it’s less convenient and slower to try and rotate it. It’s worth spending the extra money for this 4×5 rota pola, or to rent one, like I do.

Here I’m dialing in and dialing out the reflection. Take a look the monitor to see how the rota pola controls reflections. You can dial it so that there are a lot of reflections.

Notice there is a big reflection on the car windshield in the monitor.

Notice there is a big reflection on the car windshield in the monitor.

Or slowly dial the reflections out of the glass.

Notice the reflection has decreased.

Notice the reflection has decreased.

I’m never going to get the skylight reflection totally out, but it’s going to be ok because when we start driving down the road, we‘ll get at the right angle of the sun, and that’s when you want to be doing this.

Etiquette for Car Shots:

This brings me to the etiquette for any shots involving cars. For any kind of car stuff, orient the car in the direction you’re going to be driving. If you’re going to be doing rounders, there’s obviously times when the rota pola will look really beautiful with the light and times when it doesn’t. But you want to set your car up so you get the best scenario for your light and reflections. The etiquette of lining up and placing your car mount is putting the car in the direction you feel it’s going to be driving as well as within the light quality that you’re going to be shooting in.

Triangulating Your Freedom Car Mount To Make It Secure:

The Freedom Car Mount is still pretty top heavy in its current state. To add more security, we’re going to use these beautiful rods and micro grip heads for added support. The idea is to make this rig as small and compact as possible, so there isn’t a whole lot of weight. That weight up top conveys right to the hood, and if there’s flex in the hood, there will be flex in the rig.

Rods and micro grip heads

Rods and micro grip heads

First, we are going to start by screwing on our two 1/4”- 20 little rods.

Notice the two 1/4” - 20 rods in my hands.

Notice the two 1/4” – 20 rods in my hands.

Screwing in the 1/4” - 20 rod

Screwing in the 1/4” – 20 rod

When you screw in the 1/4” – 20 rod, screw in the top part until it stops.

Notice I’m screwing in the top part first.

Notice I’m screwing in the top part first.

Then screw in the bottom round part until it is tightened as well.

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Then repeat this for the rod on the other side. This is what it should look like when it has been screwed in.

Notice both 1/4” - 20 rods have been screwed in.

Notice both 1/4” – 20 rods have been screwed in.

Now that those are both in place, we can bring in our beautiful rods and micro grip heads from before.

Our two rods and two micro grip heads

Our two rods and two micro grip heads

With your rods, you’re going to slide these over the small 1/4” – 20 rods, with the grip head side closest to the hood of the car.

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Then you’re going to tighten where the rods slipped in on the top, as well as slide the grip heads into the horizontal silver rails.

Notice where the grip head on the rod slides onto the rail.

Notice where the grip head on the rod slides onto the rail.

Note that each grip head is on a different rail.

Note that each grip head is on a different rail.

The shot is stabilized, so I’m going to take off the external battery so that there is less unnecessary weight.

Removing the external battery

Removing the external battery

Now you’re ripped and ready to get your wonderful two shot.

Completed Freedom Car Mount

Completed Freedom Car Mount

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

Gear used on this shoot

Camera:
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Lenses:
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Filters:
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Batteries:
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Camera AKS:
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Monitors:
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Support:
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Lighting:
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Grip:
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Miscellaneous:
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9 comments

Mike A November 11, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Hi Shane,

Really enjoyed this post. I’ve always loved using these suction cups and excited every chance I have to use them.

Thanks so much for the carpet shield tip. I’ve heard someone use something similar in the past, but have been a little skeptical about putting something like that down under the mount. These mounts have gained my trust over the years but I’m always concerned for the car’s paint as well so I’ll certainly be giving this a try.

How is the removal process with the carpet shield? Does it just peel off the paint with no problem?

It’s probably also worth noting we always make sure the paint or surface area is clean before applying any mounts.

Best,
Mike

Reply
Shane December 14, 2015 at 4:42 PM

Yes, clean the car perfectly. Apply the shield and it pulls off nicely. You just need an all purpose cleaner to cut the glue on the car, and it is seamless.

Reply
Ahmed November 12, 2015 at 1:54 AM

Dear MR Shane, I want to express my happiness with this kind of tutorials, we are very lucky because you have hands know how to dig in the rocks without any fear. And this really what we need to see. You are flying beyond any theoretical books and this the power of the Inner Circle. I hope that in the future you create to us a next series you show in it your tips and tricks in rigging and lighting inside the car.
Regards
Ahmed

Reply
Shane December 14, 2015 at 9:14 PM

Ahmed, thank you so much for all of your kind words and amazing ideas for content. We will definitely do this series.

Reply
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