Turns out this is the perfect chase camera car.
To capture those fancy high-speed chase shots you see in Hollywood car movies, filmmakers need camera cars that can keep up with the hero car. In the 2014 'Need for Speed' film, a Saleen Mustang camera car was used to shoot the film's various high-speed race and chase scenes. To shoot the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ breaking the 300-mph barrier, Bugatti enlisted another Bugatti Chiron camera car. Filmmaker Jeremy Heslup's choice of camera car? A used 2002 BMW M5 E46 with over 200,000 miles on the clock. Turns out this is the perfect camera car.
Heslup is the independent director and executive producer of Valkyr Productions who needed a suitable camera car to film high-speed moving shots of sports cars and supercars for clients. "For the last decade or so I've been tinkering with shock and suction mounts, triangulation kits, gimbals- all strapped to whatever car was around," Heslup explained.
Initially, Heslup hooked up a Black arm 3-axis dampening system to a Toyota FJ Cruiser and tested this setup at Willow Springs. "Although everything worked, we quickly realized an SUV was a substantially dangerous chase car on a track and that something faster was required."
This led to the filmmaker acquiring a 2002 BMW M5 in Colorado with 205,000 miles on the clock. When it was new in the late 1990s, the BMW M5 E39 offered supercar levels of performance, with a 4.9-liter naturally-aspirated V8 generating 400 horsepower. This enabled the super sedan to sprint from 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds.
This custom BMW M5 camera car is nicknamed the 'Bavarian Ranch Hand' and is equipped with a 3-axis dampening Flowcine Black Arm and Ronin 2 stabilization system and Alexa Mini camera.
With this setup, Heslup can capture stable moving shots at speeds of up 130 mph, while the car's agile handling means it can keep up with supercars around the corners. It was first used as a chase car to film a Mclaren 720S being put through its paces at Tejon Ranch. "Flying along the road we pirouetted in and out of the trees we even able hit 120 mph in very close proximity. The stability and speed paired image quality of the Alexa Mini were fantastic."
After this successful shoot, the filmmaker added a front mount, painted the speed rail and wheels black, installed monitor mounts, and kept pushing the custom BMW M5 camera car harder. The Bavarian Ranch Hand was then used to shoot a promotional video for the Czinger 21C 3D-printed hypercar. As you can see in a video showing it in action, the Bavarian Ranch Hand also has no trouble keeping up with supercars such as the Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Aventador S, and the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 at iconic race tracks.