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Lights, Camera, Crash: Agency Shows How They Film Vehicle Tests

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IIHS shows how it documents crash tests

IIHS shows how it documents crash tests

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It's like making a movie.

Vehicle crash tests are over in a fraction of a second. And while it's useful to study the aftermath of a crash—and to know from advanced crash-test dummies about the forces on occupants—what gives a greater depth of information and understanding about how well a vehicle performed, in modern tests, is video documentation.

As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows in a new behind-the-scenes video, high quality camera work in ideal studio lighting to allow IIHS officials to slow the crash down, and look not just at the numbers recorded in the crash-test parameters but also at the sequence of events within the collision.

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“The VRC is more than a scientific laboratory,” says Pini Kalnite, the agency's director of film production and media services, referring to the facility where the tests are conducted. “It's also a specialized production facility, where we produce footage and pictures that engineers use in scientific analysis, and that we also use to communicate our findings to the general public.”

In some respects, the IIHS suggests, it's like a Hollywood sound stage. The team looks to record the test clearly, producing rolling video footage, high-resolution slow-motion footage, and a full range of up-close static shots afterward.

You can watch the video below—and see a wide range of vehicle crash-test footage over at the IIHS YouTube channel.


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