Dolly advice?

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    • #43966

      what would be the cheapest quality way to effectively move the camera laterally in a straight line, i see relatively inexpensive dollies at B&H but will these move in a straight line if desired?

    • #184244

      rent aweelchair, seriouly its working preety well if you have a clean floor , if not you can still put some wood to make some rails

      This maybe sound like a ghetto set-up but thats what they used in the movie reine Helisabet. I have tried it too and its the chapest good way to do it.

    • #184245

      Yeah I agree with JMM, well mostly. It all depends on what kind of dolly you are looking for. If it’s a tripod dolly you want, it costs $100 give or take so just go for it because they have a million uses. If you were looking for something like a hand truck that only goes one direction, you can build it yourself with plywood and some casters from Lowe’s for sub $20 and it will give you something to carry your gear on when you aren’t using it for shooting.

      But if you have a rolling desk chair or wheel chair…yeah that will suit your needs also.

    • #184246

      Here’s what you need, for probably less than $50 or so: a square, or rectangle of 3/4 or thicker plywood, some kind of non-slip rubber/other surface material to glue to the work side, three bungie cords or other fasteners and the appropriate hardware to attach them to three corners of the platform in a traditional tripod/spreader figuration, a wagon tongue or other handle to use for pushing or pulling with proper hardware for attaching (permanent, or removable for portability) four pairs of skateboard-style wheels and brackets needed for fastening them to the underside of the platform, two six-to-10-foot, or longer, as needed sections of 1″ or 2″ PVC pipe (I used two-inch a long time ago to do one of these and that worked fine.) Assorted tools, nuts, bolts, lock washers, LockTite, other hardware.

      Get some lesser priced skateboard wheels but try to avoid the extremely hard plastic or composite ones, the more yielding, rubberized type do better as far as giving a smooth ride. They actually provide a bit of drag that might be helpful in acquiring more smoothness in the ride. You can use carpet or something instead of the non-slip material, but carpet tends to be a bit more slippery to tripod feet even if you use the spikes. A spreader will help keep the tripod legs from slipping out or maybe even jumping the harnesses you create if the harnesses were not designed especially right.

      Cut a square/rectangle of board large enough to accommodate your camera, tripod or whatever, drill some holes to accept the spikes on your tripod or, if no spikes, use a spreader and devise some kind of bungie cord or other fastener to attach to the spreader/legs for safety, security and tight to prevent unnecessary jiggle or bumpiness. A LOT of the success of this is to make sure your “PVC” track is level and straight, or if you’re working an incline, that you put caps on the ends to help a bit on the braking at each end, instead of rolling right off the track. This works on grass, sand, carpet, even concrete streets, sidewalks, hard floors, and other hard surfaces as well, but you might need something to help wedge the track in place so it won’t roll on you while in use, or scoot out from under the wheels unexpectedly.

      Find and purchase, some triangle-shaped angle brackets that will allow you to fasten the wheels in such a manner as they tilt at an angle and each wheel of each pair faces each other – this configuration allows the wheels to “hug the PVC pipe track snugly, and roll smoothly along its surface and length. You’ll need to work with this and develop a perfect angle, spacing, etc. to accommodate the circumference of PVC pipe used. Leave a couple inches from each corner (front and side) for some platform overlap and clearance. Also, it is a good idea to round or sand down the corners so they are not sharp and prone to possible injury or damage, or pad them some way.

      You could fashion wooden wedge blocks for attaching your wheels at a “perfect angle” but metal will not split on you at the wrong moment, and probably will last a lifetime if properly attached. Finally, I used a old Western Flyer wagon tongue assembly for mine, but I have also developed a cup retainer for placing a closet clothes poll or even a broom handle to push – wagon tongue assembly for pulling, pole seated in a socket for pushing. You could conceivably make this apparatus large enough to contain a seat for a operator/dolly approach similar to the wheel chair. Believe me, it works, and if mine hadn’t rolled right off the back of a truck a friend was driving, one who “forgot” to lift the tailgate in place, and hit the road, breaking into a thousand small pieces, in an area where we couldn’t safely stop and retrieve any of it – actually didn’t discover it was missing until after we’d arrived back at the pizza place and were enjoying a satisfying meal for a shoot well done.

      OK, your wheels and blocks are attached and fashioned in angles that allow each pair, all in perfect allignment of course, to snuggly hug the PVC pipe track. Your method of attachment for the triood, or even a center piece with a stryrofoam pellets or other bean-bag type filler under for cushioning, will allow you to roll the camera at an extremely low level for another unique angle of trucking or dollying, and I’ve set the track up across saw horses or even chair backs, for other unique angles, heights, perspectives. As I mentioned, you can do inclines, such as following dolly shots alongside outdoor/indoor stairs, allowing the bannisters and rails to be part of the sense of action in the footage – possibilities are limitness, and once you develop/engineer this gear to your specific needs, intentions and use, you will leave it in the trunk or truck, or back of your PT for those unique POV opportunities that always come up on a shoot. Just make sure the tailgate is closed.

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