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Tilta Hydra Alien Car Mounting System – Hands-on Review

December 16th, 2021 Jump to Comment Section 4

We took the new Tilta Hydra Alien Car Mounting System out for a spin here in Vienna, where our headquarters are. With the highly professional help of the guys from AV-Pro rental, we were able to get some amazing shots with such an affordable and relatively small setup.

Traditionally, car shoots are notoriously hard – mounting cameras on cars is usually a complicated affair, and because of the weight of the cinema cameras involved, you need a bunch of support gear, staff, and of course permissions to actually drive the car anywhere.

Lighter cameras and gimbals of course can make that easier, and Tilta took up the challenge: Their Hydra Alien Car Mounting System is made for the quite brilliant DJI RS-2 gimbal, which is perfect for mirrorless cameras. The RS2 does have quite strong motors though, which means you can mount heavier cameras and lenses on it too, as long as you can balance it.

Tilta Hyda Alien Car Mount
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

Tilta Hydra Alien

Smaller gimbal and smaller camera mean: you guessed it, a smaller support system. The Tilta Hydra Alien Car Mounting System comes in a suitcase and has everything you need: suction cups, a spring arm, different dovetail support plates, V-mount plates, and much more.

Image credit: Philipp Bauer

It’s also more affordable than other systems, so we tried it out on a quick shoot. What stands out is the Hydra Alien Car Mounting System’s versatility: there are 8 different ways to attach it to your car to achieve different types of shots. You can place it on the hood, you can mount it at the back of the car, on either side, on the doors, and so on.

Tilta Hydra Alien
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

For our purposes, we tried mounting it on the hood to film the driver first. Putting the rig up on the hood was effortless. We were pleasantly surprised at how tight the suction cups were holding the Hydra Alien rig in place. Just make sure to always use ratchet straps to secure any build-up on a car in case any of the suction cups go loose.

Suction mounts
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

I was sitting in the car operating the RS2 remotely with the Raveneye Image Transmission and Tilta’s remote control kit for the RS2. Now while that isn’t the rig’s problem, I found it of limited use to have a gimbal on the rig while filming a person inside the car. It’s counter-productive when you take a turn with the car because the gimbal will try to follow the movement and thereby lose the center of attention.

Tilta Hydra
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

With or without a gimbal attached

Even when tracking the person, I didn’t get it to work right. In my opinion, not using a gimbal here would have been better since vibrations would be dampened enough by the car’s suspension. Again, that is not the rig’s problem at all as it performed flawlessly, I would simply mount the camera directly to the rig next time.
With the hood-mounted rig, I also found the camera position to be quite high up with the RS2 gimbal below it, so removing the gimbal would also put the camera more at eye level with the driver.

Hydra Alien
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

In my opinion, the Tilta Hydra Alien Car Mounting System really shines in any car-to-car shoots. We mounted it to the front and the back of the car to film another car, which worked flawlessly. It was super fast to assemble and held perfectly without any issues, we just added ratchet straps for peace of mind. We were able to get some very nice shots.

Go by the book

While you do need some basic technical knowledge to choose the right points for the suction cups for attaching the rig, it’s easy and fast to set up if you follow the manual – and you really should follow the manual! After every drive, make sure to tighten all the bolts and test the vacuum in all the suction cups, to make sure that they didn’t get loose over time.

checking the mount
Image credit: Philipp Bauer

So in conclusion, for a price of $1300, you get a compact car mounting rig that is versatile, works safely, and is fast to set up. You should definitely have the RavenEye Transmission System for your DJI RS2 gimbal and also get Tilta’s Remote Control Kit for the RS2 so you can see the image remotely to pan and tilt the gimbal while shooting. Tilta did a great job on this system, which was also enhanced after initial customer feedback, and you can tell they really took it seriously and did their homework.

AV PRO
Image credit: AV-Pro

A big thank you to our friends from AV Pro who ran this test with me! AV-Pro is a great cinema rental here in Vienna, Austria, and their entire team is highly professional and knowledgeable about all things cinema.

Link: Tilta

Do you have any experience with car-to-car filming or any other application for such a car mount? Share your thoughts about the Tilta Hydra Alien System in the comments below!

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