My buddy Ray Wert from the ad agency Tiny Toy Car knows how I love gadgets, filmmaking, and obviously custom camera trucks capable of racing in the Baja and destroying anything in its path. Last month he got me a sneak peek of this Ford ad (below the break) before it aired and introduced me to the director, Tim Damon, who told me about his incredible custom Ford Raptor that he used to film rally racer Tanner Foust as he thrashed the new Ford Fusion in the hills of California.
Tim and his business partner have been filming with and creating custom camera vehicles for over 10 years. Tim started off with a Hummer H1 and had a Russia Arm (the big camera arm on top of the camera car) added to it around 1998. As his clients requested higher performance vehicles to be filmed, he eventually upgraded to vehicles that offered more high speed capabilities, such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Mercedes ML63.
Most of the vehicles they use must have at least 4 seats to allow room for the driver, the camera focus puller (person in charge of keeping the camera in focus during these challenging rolling shots using a motorized remote system), someone to control the Russia Arm, and a person to control the camera head at the end of the arm. The Russia Arms are developed in eastern Europe for each specific vehicle because exact balance with such a heavy addition to a car is crucial (or you may get a tipover situation). Weight, in general, is a huge issue for these vehicles due to carrying 4+ crew members and the arm with camera. Many of the cars Tim uses have to be heavily modified (suspension, chasis, engine) to not only safely handle the added weight in high performance scenarios, but also be able to keep up with the object they are chasing. This is why Tim's favorite camera car is the Ford Raptor.
Tim claims that his Ford Raptor required very little modification in comparison to the Porsche Cayennes, and Benz ML63's in his stable. The Raptor is already built tough with its high powered 6.2L V8 engine. Of course it was turned matte black to minimize reflections while filming and they did tweak the suspension and engine a bit and added a steel reinforced roof and roll cage over the cabin. The way the Raptor is designed, it can tear through the corners on the road (like the video below) but you can also immediately pull off the road and launch all 4 wheels off the ground on a Baja race course, which Tim has done while filming a Baja Trophy Race Truck. It's an all-in-one super camera truck that has travelled both ends for filming projects. It recently just returned back from a shoot in New Zealand.
Now you see why the Raptor is Tim's first choice in his fleet for most jobs and how it was a nice and easy choice to film rally racer Tanner Foust as he ripped around in the new more sporty Ford Fusion with frightened Jalopnik readers in the passenger seat (you'll understand when you see the video below). I just personally look forward to having an opportunity to use the Raptor camera truck for my next car ad out west!
Thanks to Ray and Tim for sharing a little of the backstory and tech behind the scenes!
Here is the Ford Fusion ad:
Here is footage of the Raptor filming Tanner Foust and the new Ford Fusion:
Want to learn more about Tim's camera cars (From Ferraris, to custom golf cars)? Hit up his site Cameracarsystems.com