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Rig Shots 1: What is a 'rig shot' ?


John Jovic

A 'rig shot' is an image where the camera has been attached somehow to the subject, usually a car, to enable a much longer exposure of the subject than would be possible otherwise. This gives an image with much more background movement/blur than would be possible using techniques such as 'panning' (where you shoot a moving car from a fixed position) or 'tracking shots' (where you shoot the subject from another car moving at the same speed). In a 'rig shot' the car and camera move in unison. Even though the car may move a relatively long distance during an exposure, and usually at a very slow speed, the camera sees the car as being absolutely stationary within the image it is recording because they are attached together and effectively one. The exposures are often several seconds long, even in bright daylight where the light intensity is often tempered with Neutral Density (ND) filters. They are usually shot at walking pace or slower as the sense of speed is created by the length of the exposure and how far the car travels during the exposure, not the speed of the car.

Partial rig shot.  

Full Car rig shot.

You won't find the term 'rig shot' in the Oxford dictionary any time soon. The term 'rig shot' seems to have developed organically throughout the world of still photography as it has always been awkward to articulately describe the apparatus attached to the car. It's not a 'tripod and suction cup shot', or an 'aluminium tube and various ancillary fasteners shot'! Simply calling it a 'rig' always seemed to be a good fit and many people seemed to think the same way as the term is now commonly in use in the UK, Europe and US. The term 'bolt-on shot' is sometimes used in the UK.

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