How to: Make a Waymo Video

Based on my experience making about 80 of them

My Pacifica filming setup here, scroll down for I-PACE: 

(excerpts from these write-ups were originally viewer email replies, sorry I know this page is sloppy lol)

Main camera:


Good to make sure you have at least 256GB of microSD space for long filming days, I heard the largest size card it can take is that. Probably have a spare card just in case

And a bunch of GoPro MAX batteries/a USB charger. 

I know the predecessor to the MAX (the Fusion) could operate just off DC power (and Waymo vehicles have powered USB on either side of the seats) but not sure about the MAX, only got it right as I stopped the series. Most likely; worth testing. (Update: yes)

First make sure it’s in video mode:

And 360 mode, probably 5.6K @ 30 depending on your needs

Since the auto-exposure is terrible and will focus on the inside of the car, manually turn it down with protune until everything is no longer washed out (unless you’re filming at night.)

So it can see all the way past the front seats.

Then when in the car, reach your hand under and mount it maybe 6ish inches up (and if the speedometer is visible, a few inches to the left as well) Make sure to get a good seal or it'll fall off.

Try to get the front lens of the camera vertically right between this screen and the mirror

Otherwise it'll look a little something like this:

(this was my first video with a 360 cam, look how the sky is blown out since I didn’t know about the exposure settings)

As for the screen cam, I used this thing

(my original broke, so the above is a better one.  No this is not an affiliate link I just genuinely like the product)

(If you're doing a screen cam, I'd recommend doing a few sync snaps that both cameras can see at the beginning of the ride. This will make editing vastly easier. (and also probably a snap at the end of the ride to make sure the cameras didn't drift out of sync))

You can experiment with your phone (or an old phone) and record at either 30 or 60 fps, whichever produces less flicker (I think 60? Don’t quite remember)

The GoPro will spit out a .360 file, probably a lot actually (if it’s a MAX) since it’ll split up the recording like once every 8 minutes or so (which is mildly annoying)

So I’d use the batch exporter in the GoPro Player software

Once imported, select all the videos in the queue (important!) and set these settings

Or if you don’t have video editing software, you can just set gopro player to keyframe mode and export the shots from there.

Once processed it’ll give you .mp4 raw 360 video, which you can play around with in VLC to make sure everything worked properly (click/drag/scroll).

At this stage what you have is probably good enough for just personal enjoyment, but if you want to go all the way for social media sharing it’s good to have Adobe Premiere and the GoPro FX Reframe plugin. (don’t just import the 360 video directly, set your sequence to 1920x1080 or 3840x2160 (or whatever resolution at whatever aspect ratio is appropriate for the medium, of course), import the 360, and apply the FX Reframe plugin to it from the effects panel and tweak the settings)

Then from there, if you know premiere you can pretty much just copy what I did in the later videos, or I’d be glad to edit for you (since it takes forever, probably for a flat $50 depending how much is shot)

I-PACE Filming Setup 

In the months prior to my ride, I spent MUCH more time than I probably should have researching the camera setup, putting together equipment and testing on different vehicles. So I'd be happy to share what I learned!

The I-PACE provides a large glass ceiling, with tons of camera mounting potential. During initial research, a huge concern was the distance from the ceiling to the vertical sweet spot. (between the mirror and DMS)

Too high up and you get something like this. I thought I was only going to get one shot at recording in an I-PACE, so it had to be right the first time. A few sources told me that distance was 10-11 inches, but ultimately I decided to overshoot a little, then compensate by adjusting the mount in the car if it turned out to be incorrect. The mount is 13.5 inches from ceiling to camera lens, and I think it turned out just fine without any adjustments.

Another problem was vehicle-induced vibration in the camera mount. First tests with my original suction cup mount were disastrous so I bought the official GoPro suction cup mount (acquired used, shockingly cheap), which has notched locking points, and will actually hold the set camera position very well.

To extend the reach of the mount down and into the sweet spot, I used the mid-size piece in this kit. The included screw-tightening tool was excellent to give that extra "oomph" into locking everything down/preventing vibrations.

The final mount looks like this:

When placed juuuust in front of the headrests, with not the mount itself but the camera lens centered horizontally, it seems to be about perfect. 

If you've got a GoPro MAX, be sure to use Protune and turn the exposure down to -1.5 or else it'll focus on the interior of the car and blow out the sky. Possibly even more, as my final video is a bit more blown out than I would have liked.

For the screen camera I think just about anything will do, but I used a Sony FDR-AX53 on a tripod in the back. However it's too small back there to set up a tripod normally, and luckily a key feature of mine is to bend the legs individually. Also after releasing a locking mechanism, they bend much farther back/up than you would normally need... except in situations like this I suppose. I ended up bending one of the legs enough to rest flush with the seat, which kept things pretty secure. See rough Photoshop mockup below:

This was required since the I-PACE screen has nowhere to attach a normal clamp arm, like the Pacificas do. 

If you can, make sure to disable stabilization on the screen camera since the movement of the car will confuse it.