MAX’S MONTHLY COLUMN: Max Berry on filming cars, potholes, and his New Year’s Resolution

by | Jan 25, 2019

Max Berry

Well hello there, and welcome to my newly established column here at Spidersnet. My name’s Max Berry. I’m a 20-year old video producer, and you can see my work at Max Berry Productions on YouTube. As you will quickly realise if you watch my videos, I’m also a petrol head. I’d like to make it clear at the start of this column that this is a safe, car talking space for likeminded individuals… 

I often find in certain social encounters you have to ‘test the waters’ before dropping the c-word. Blurting out that you’re even remotely interested in cars at a dinner party or whatnot can lead to a long-term breakdown in social communications with normal human-beings, so it’s good to get it out there early on.

How to create dynamic shots when filming a car

The question I get asked, almost more than anything else by viewers of my car videos, is “how did you film that car from that angle on the exterior?” Well, good question. And there is an answer.

There’s a few main shots to make use of – the classics. Without these, you might as well have left the lens cap on and played badminton instead. The first is the suction cup – GoPro theory (and no, sadly I’m not paid by GoPro to mention this). Tactical positioning is key here, and will often be just in front or just behind a wheel arch, containing a high velocity spinning wheel – cinematic right? In its protective case, resisting thrown up gravel and roadkill carcass, the GoPro action camera can record massively dynamic shots, which would otherwise be unattainable without such a device.

Watch Max explaining this technique in his video here…

The next technique is one which until made road legal, can only be carried out on private land or using a ‘Russian arm’ on a filming vehicle, which will set you back thirty grand to borrow for just one day! I get around this financial downfall using a homemade system.

Firstly the camera is secured in a gimbal – a device consisting of electric motors keeping the attached camera smooth, buoyant, and free of any jiggles or shakes. It’s very cool. An underpaid individual (usually me) then lies in the back of a moving car, which I must add should be a good-sized estate (I can highly recommend a VW Passat) with the boot open. This shot works only to film the front of your feature car, but work, it certainly does. The shots are cinematic, intense and unlike anything else – offering some camera movement unlike the static GoPro shots…

We’ll continue this sub topic in future columns.

The pothole problem

Next, roads. Each road has, in my opinion, its own personality and character. Just like a dog – some are a bit vicious and might bite your testes while others want nothing more than to walk with you home.

There’s a road about 20 minutes from my house in Devon, and every time I drive it, I envisage a human-like persona. He hasn’t got a name, but his rough tarmac surface is beard-like and a grumpy. The few corners he actually offers are a bit mediocre and boring, which can represent this metaphorical man’s outlook on life. The occasional pothole and hard-hitting drain cover give a sense of irritation. Every now and again, his easily angered mind gets him into trouble in the pub, resulting in either his enemy’s tyre puncturing, or his own surface becoming ever-more granular and uncomfortable. And it’s these potholes I take issue with…

I hit a pothole recently with such force that the stabbing vibration went into the tyre, through the rim and suspension, into the chassis, through the seat brackets, up my spine and into my skull.

– Max Berry

A nice road. Not a pothole in sight.

With certain roads in the state they’re now in, I will genuinely occasionally plan alternative routes for a slightly longer, but less stressful journey. I’ve had my 2013 Seat Ibiza now over 6 months, and being an FR edition; as I explain in my review of the car on YouTube, it’s rough riding on even the smoothest of roads. The front springs are so stiff you could honestly tell the variety of a nut if you were to go over one.

I hit a pothole recently with such force that the stabbing vibration went into the tyre, through the rim and suspension, into the chassis, through the seat brackets, up my spine and into my skull. It felt like someone snapping a pencil. And immediately after is a brief moment of reflection, assessing the situation, figuring out just how expensive the damage might be. Often during this period, a new, previously unheard squeak or rattle can begin. This skyrockets your post-impact analysis increasing the value of the damage.

On the occasion I mentioned however, initially it seemed the car was unhurt, until later that day when I noticed the front left tyre had changed its mind about having air in it. Although highly irritating, there are worse outcomes – a friend of mine actually shattered a wheel rim on a pothole. The fact that it was a 300bhp Maserati Ghibli is irrelevant; the point here is that a wheel rim, which as far as I’m concerned are pretty damn strong, was actually cracked by a hole on the ground. I mean can you imagine the physics involved in that scenario? The transfer on energy to break apart a piece of forged steel is immense, you could probably measure the affair on the Richter scale.

The victim of a particularly savage pothole

My New Year’s Resolution…

And finally for this month (rather relevantly), it’s time for my New Year’s Resolution. And it’s a good one. I don’t know about you, but I am a devil for pushing my poor car as far as it will go on fuel.

Driving home is the worst effected. If it’s 100 miles home but the car predicts it holds, say 60 miles worth of fuel, I can’t help but bypass the notion of refuelling until those 100 miles are done. It’s a risky game, but the low-level pump of adrenaline you receive in doing so is worth it. The predicted miles of fuel remaining slowly drop away, until eventually you realise that the ‘5 miles’ of fuel left on the dashboard, don’t fully add up with the ’25 miles’ left of your journey.

I think once you’ve owned your car for more than six months, you have this strange belief that because you’ve owned it for such time, you can predict its fuel consumption better than it can.

– Max Berry

Eventually the car decides it can do no more miles and the dreaded ‘0 miles – refuel NOW!’ message pops up.

This is where the boys are separated from the men.

I think once you’ve owned your car for more than six months, you have this strange belief that because you’ve owned it for such time, you can predict its fuel consumption better than it can. I’ve seen tests before where the likes of Top Gear run a car past ‘empty’ and manage 40+ miles afterwards. Being in this scenario yourself can suddenly make your belief in your car’s abilities just a little stronger, as you continue down the M4 destined to end up having a long wait by the side of the road.

But of course, for the vast majority, we make it home. Secluded in the safety of our local petrol station, we fill up the car and forget that anything ever happened. So from now on, I’m changing my fuel consumption ways, and filling up at more mature (but less exciting) intervals.

Check out Max Berry Productions’ YouTube channel here.

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