Behind-The-Scenes: The Anatomy of a Crash Test Video

IIHS Crash Test Video

Talk about a full-scale production!

We’ll quite honestly never look at automotive crash tests quite the same, after watching a behind-the-scenes video of tests filmed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Not that we ever thought it was as simple as smashing a vehicle into an object, but a lot more goes into filming crash tests than meet the eye. In some respects, the filming facility resembles a Hollywood sound stage.

The IIHS, a non-profit organization funded by the insurance industry, conducts its tests in a specialized production location with no shortage of lights and cameras. The crew uses high-speed, slow motion and real-time video cameras at multiple angles to capture all the shots they need. Every unit is set up in a precise location to get the shot they need, when they need it.

Timing isn’t the only thing that is critical. So is lighting because shadows or reflections just won’t do. A grid holds a custom-built lighting array that produces 750,000 watts of soft, diffused light.

All the test footage is sent to engineers for use in scientific analysis. It’s used by the IIHS to come up with its crash test ratings that are used by a lot of people during the car buying process, along with those of the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. 

Check out this cool behind-the-scenes video for an inside look at how crews film all the action.

The IIHS puts vehicles through 5 different crash tests to evaluate two safety areas. The first is crashworthiness, which is how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash. The second is crash avoidance and mitigation, which looks at available technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity.

Based on the results, vehicles receive a good, acceptable, marginal or poor rating. To qualify for 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

Photo Credit: IIHS
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