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Panther Dollies: Your thoughts


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#1 Christopher Bell

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 05:28 PM

I am seeking opinions on Panther Dollies. Never used one. Shot for years on Fisher and Chapman. How do they compare? Movietech makes a pee-wee like dolly as well. Anyone used the Movietech?

Thanks in advance,

Chris Bell
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#2 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:03 PM

Hi !

The FGV Panther is used a lot on TV series and TV films. On feature lengths, you'd rather see Chapman's Stints and Peewees. Don't know about the Movietech, though I heard of it, I never used it.

To my opinion, the Panther has plus and minus.

The plus is the fact that both the operator and assistant's seats elevate with the head. Another plus is that since it works on batteries (2X 24 V) and you can work something like half a day or the whole day with one couple of batteries, you don't need current to make it work. Sure, the Peewee allows a "manual" charge (by foot), but you need to reload it once or twice every hour if you don't have current supply... Also another plus is the ability to set a minijib crane on it. May be it's possible to set a small crane on Chapman's dollies, I never did that.

The minus is that it doesn't go as fast (down/up) as a Chapman, wich may be a pain when following someone sitting or standing up, for instance, in CUs especially. Another minus is that you can't change from conventionnal multi wheels drive to crab motion during a shot, when driving it on tyres on a dance floor, for instance. But it's a good machine, anyway.

BTW, if any grip reads this thread, I had a problem 2 days ago with a Panther. Using the tool to change from wheels to tyres, one of my students fu**ed the countercrew of a wheel (only costs 10 $ but when you need to go on tyre at once and can't do it, you better have a spare part...) So my question is, do you grips use the tool or put the counter screw (nut ? sorry my english...do you see what I mean ?) by hand ?
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#3 dullataj

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 09:57 PM

Dear Sir, I was use Fisher and Panther for long time. If I would like to compare on shot that you would like to use both of Dolly. For shot of Static I'm choose to use Fisher 10 or 11 series. But then in shot that you would like to use with Dolly track or Mini Jib. I'm present to use Center Column Dolly such as panther or Movietech better. Becasue Center Column Dolly base is much more stronger and static. Now as we know that Panther Brand is highest technology of Dolly. They were take memory control to use with it. Therefore, you will have basic motion control. In time that you take this Panther dolly with POD 2000....You will have mini Motion COntrol Also....In my Idea...Panther Classic just OK for me in Technology and price...Evolution is much more expensive.
Best Regards,
Yoi Camera Corner Thailand
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 01:03 AM

Biggest problem with the Panther is the lowest position in normal mode is not very low compared to bottom-floor on the arm of a PeeWee or Fisher. So you have to attach this ridiculously huge and heavy low-mode attachment more often than you do with a PeeWee or Fisher.
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#5 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 08:47 PM

Yep. We call it the "snake" here...

Consider the Hybrid Chapman as well as an alternative to the Stint.

But another point to consider is the ability to pass doors... Then only the Peewee and the Panther (don't know about the Movietech) do the job, forget both the stint and hybrid, if I'm right.
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#6 m.m.

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 01:10 PM

Have one on the Truck for Occasions! never trade it for a scissordolly with steershifting

Middlecollum Dollys are good in small Sets,extended heights, Jibs and Offsets.
As long as they stand on tracks they are pretty usable dollys if you don't mention the minimum height of something between 1,20m to 1,45m(depending on the panhead U're using).and the many smashed lightmeters or bruises on operator toes and knees, due to collumn movement.(even dollygrip fingers are not allways safe)
Movietech Magnum has an detachable column (good for transport or strap it on a Flatbed...)

The grip on mcollumnd.'s allways has to build a new configuration in order to change cameraposition.Means taking off camera and head each time...May be its fun sometimes but not on a professional filmset.

Working offtrack with one is a pain in the ass.

By the way the Movietech scissor is a remake of the 90's blue dolly series Shotmaker produced.They bought the rights somewhere in Italy!

m
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#7 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 02:21 PM

Here in England no grip will touch a Panther with a ten foot pole. They hate it. If you ask a grip here what he wants, he'll go for PeeWee 9 times out of 10. I kind of grew up on Panthers back in Sweden, so I'm quite fond of them given the right circumstances.

This is what's good with Panther:
1. Smoothest column in the business.
2. Lightweight and small - perfect for tight locations (I carried a Fisher 11 with 3 others to the third floor in an old house with no elevator once, and I'm still spitting blood).
3. Only dolly where you can do 360 pans where the operator, focus puller and jib rotates with you.
4. The wheels can be pulled in and in combination with Panthers folding track, you can lay track and dolly in very narrow spaces like doorways and such, something no other dolly can do.


This is what's bad:
1. As mentioned, the 'snake' or low mode tongue isn't ideal (that said, a PeeWee in normal mode isn't that low either).
2. Less stable compared to the heavier PeeWee's or Fischers.
3. Can't do round-y-round and spin on its own axis.
4. Needs batteries charged.

God, I'm getting all emotional, now; I miss the lovely Super Panther. I'm going to force it on my grip on the next shoot... :P
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#8 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 05:26 PM

Here in England no grip will touch a Panther with a ten foot pole. They hate it. If you ask a grip here what he wants, he'll go for PeeWee 9 times out of 10. I kind of grew up on Panthers back in Sweden, so I'm quite fond of them given the right circumstances.

This is what's good with Panther:
1. Smoothest column in the business.
2. Lightweight and small - perfect for tight locations (I carried a Fisher 11 with 3 others to the third floor in an old house with no elevator once, and I'm still spitting blood).
3. Only dolly where you can do 360 pans where the operator, focus puller and jib rotates with you.
4. The wheels can be pulled in and in combination with Panthers folding track, you can lay track and dolly in very narrow spaces like doorways and such, something no other dolly can do.
This is what's bad:
1. As mentioned, the 'snake' or low mode tongue isn't ideal (that said, a PeeWee in normal mode isn't that low either).
2. Less stable compared to the heavier PeeWee's or Fischers.
3. Can't do round-y-round and spin on its own axis.
4. Needs batteries charged.

God, I'm getting all emotional, now; I miss the lovely Super Panther. I'm going to force it on my grip on the next shoot... :P



Hi,
When I was in film school we had a deal with shotmaker so we use panthers all the time, I love them myself and sometimes miss using them (hardly anyone wants to use them now), one obvious advantage in my mind was the system controling the column movement, being able to program the speed and hieght together and pre-program marks for the movement with the controller makes using velcro diamonds seem ghetto and backwards in comparison. The fact that the operatror/AC seats rise with the column is great too (I found the lack of this feature one of the most annoying things about the fisher).And who needs the excess weight of a fisher to carry on a 16 hour shoot? the panther can be easily carried by two strong guys, even into and out of vans etc..
But of course there are bad points with the panther too: It is hard to put your feet anywhere without getting them crushed while keeping balance and rising up and down, especially on fast booms down. The low mode is a bit of a nuisance to put on and off but not THAT bad. In general the Panther does seem less stable and takes some getting used to if you are used to Fishers, but some of the best work I have ever done with a dolly has been with a panther, and apart from a purple toenail once I never had any bad experiences with it.
Cheers.

Edited by Tomas Haas, 11 March 2006 - 05:30 PM.

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#9 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 01:51 AM

Hi,
Able cine. in LA will start renting and selling panthers soon (or maybe they already are, I cant remember the time frame)...in case anyone wanted to know.
Cheers.

Edited by Tomas Koolhaas, 22 August 2006 - 01:52 AM.

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#10 Paul M. Sommers

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 01:59 AM

Having pushed dolly and been an operator I have to say the Panther is a nightmare. The Low-mode is awful. The Jib always looks like it's about to tip over and kill someone. Rear wheel steering and that whammy bar thingy are a joke. I'm still wondering what's good about them.

I'd rather have a Fisher 10. 95% of the time you can get it into the place you need to and it's stable enough to shoot with long lenses even in low mode. The Fisher 11 and Chapman PeeWee are terrible when you shoot long. The arms are not stable enough. If you are shooting in an apartment on the third floor do your guys a favor and get one, but otherwise...

Paul
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#11 Tomas Koolhaas

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Posted 24 August 2006 - 02:05 AM

Having pushed dolly and been an operator I have to say the Panther is a nightmare. The Low-mode is awful. The Jib always looks like it's about to tip over and kill someone. Rear wheel steering and that whammy bar thingy are a joke. I'm still wondering what's good about them.

I'd rather have a Fisher 10. 95% of the time you can get it into the place you need to and it's stable enough to shoot with long lenses even in low mode. The Fisher 11 and Chapman PeeWee are terrible when you shoot long. The arms are not stable enough. If you are shooting in an apartment on the third floor do your guys a favor and get one, but otherwise...

Paul


Hi,
Dont you think being able to Pre-set accurate marks and speeds for up and down booms on the controls is better than using velcro patches?
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#12 himmat deol

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Posted 26 August 2006 - 11:52 AM

Well we use the Panther Classic and the Movietech Arco (A PeeWee clone) in the company I work for an the comparisons are all valid . The most important i think are

-The panther takes the dp up with the column ... On the peewee a dp has to be an acrobat on fast rising moves .
-The Snake arm (low mode) is a piss off , but if u keep it built on set its not that time consuming to put on .. U jus have to remember that it should always extend to the right or front of the dolly otherwise the dp cant reach the viewfinder ( and u get embarassed ). U can also use it in reverse an take ur camera higher or use it as an extension to put cameras over the edge into empty space instead of a ubangi or a slider. It requires a counterbalance rod with weight .The low mode on the fisher and peewee take you lower, are faster to put on and are less fussy generally.
-The center of gravity with the panther is central so coming off the arm too much without counterbalancing can topple it ( and u WILL get fired ). The peewee is heavier in the back and naturally balances the camera.
-The Super jib is an accessory that comes on the center columns ( Movietechs Magnum which is a panther clone also has one, I've never seen one on the scissorlifts). This is the only area in which the panther is superior. With the programmable repeatable moves, this is the closest you can get to a motion control jib without actually getting one (U still have to push it though).
-Electricity. The Panther has batteries and unless you can charge during lunch, they can run out on a heavy shoot day (and leave you stranded), unless you have spares. The Peewee's repeated charging needs an electricity source nearby (ask electric to run you a dedicated plugpoint) and the "footpump" charger is only for emergencies and a real pain in the legs.
-The one main area the scissorlifts score on is the steering and the pushing. They move faster on the track (Panther trackwheels create more friction) and have different steering modes (The panther being lighter is easier to just pick up and turn around rather than using the steering rods to lock two wheels).
-Jibbing. Everyone raves about the panthers move memory, and it can go as fast as the scissorlifts if u put it on full speed and hard ramps, but for a good grip, the control that the scissorlifts give is much more organic. Remember, u cant preprogram actors or dp s .
-Weight. Two people can carry a Panther 20 metres without breaking their backs. Enuff said.

To summarise, both are good working systems with slight advantages over the other. It actually comes down to the dp. In India, most work with panthers and distrust the scissorlifts. As a matter of fact, you would get similar negative reviews on the peewee from them. Most American and english dp s dont work with center columns and are quick to make fun of em. Also the dolly grip is always more comfortable with the system he learned on.

And this is a subject that can be argued till death. Grips love to argue about this like a "mine is bigger than yours" thing.

Also Movietech takes the Arco from Cinetech, an Italian company, and remarkets it. So its not exactly a Peewee, and does'nt really compare, the peewee being far better. Have never worked with the fisher or the magnum so when i do, i'll compare em .

I work for a Grip company in India called the GripWorks. Am eventually going to be a dp ( I hope ), and this is my first post. This is an awesome site, and im hooked.

Himmat.
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#13 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 03:02 PM

One point that makes chapmans dollies superior to the panther is the ability of changing from crab to steer (if my words are correct ?) during the take.
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#14 Wilkin Chau

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Posted 27 August 2006 - 11:02 PM

One point that makes chapmans dollies superior to the panther is the ability of changing from crab to steer (if my words are correct ?) during the take.


You probably mean conventional. Although I've seen some of the newer peewees have round as well as conventional and crab.

I've heard about Panther dollies but I've never had a DP request one. The number one choice is usually Peewee. I'm thankful that it's rare for me to see hybrids because they are so friggin heavy.
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#15 nhan mynhung

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 06:30 AM

Biggest problem with the Panther is the lowest position in normal mode is not very low compared to bottom-floor on the arm of a PeeWee or Fisher. So you have to attach this ridiculously huge and heavy low-mode attachment more often than you do with a PeeWee or Fisher.


There is a system low-mode for the Movie Tech´s Magnum center column dolly, where you have three different sized tubes/two off-sets and can mount cameras at various heights. it is not monstrously heavy and huge.
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#16 nhan mynhung

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 06:57 AM

Well we use the Panther Classic and the Movietech Arco (A PeeWee clone) in the company I work for an the comparisons are all valid . The most important i think are

-The panther takes the dp up with the column ... On the peewee a dp has to be an acrobat on fast rising moves .
-The Snake arm (low mode) is a piss off , but if u keep it built on set its not that time consuming to put on .. U jus have to remember that it should always extend to the right or front of the dolly otherwise the dp cant reach the viewfinder ( and u get embarassed ). U can also use it in reverse an take ur camera higher or use it as an extension to put cameras over the edge into empty space instead of a ubangi or a slider. It requires a counterbalance rod with weight .The low mode on the fisher and peewee take you lower, are faster to put on and are less fussy generally.
-The center of gravity with the panther is central so coming off the arm too much without counterbalancing can topple it ( and u WILL get fired ). The peewee is heavier in the back and naturally balances the camera.
-The Super jib is an accessory that comes on the center columns ( Movietechs Magnum which is a panther clone also has one, I've never seen one on the scissorlifts). This is the only area in which the panther is superior. With the programmable repeatable moves, this is the closest you can get to a motion control jib without actually getting one (U still have to push it though).
The Movie Tech´s Magnum is not a clone. There are differences in how it is built, the control&memory, payload, max. height. It is more expensive than the Panther Classics or Super though.

-Electricity. The Panther has batteries and unless you can charge during lunch, they can run out on a heavy shoot day (and leave you stranded), unless you have spares. The Peewee's repeated charging needs an electricity source nearby (ask electric to run you a dedicated plugpoint) and the "footpump" charger is only for emergencies and a real pain in the legs.

You can use direct current as well as batteries on the Magnum dolly and as far as I know, every one has a couple of spares because both batteries ea. 24V have to be changed together.

-The one main area the scissorlifts score on is the steering and the pushing. They move faster on the track (Panther trackwheels create more friction) and have different steering modes (The panther being lighter is easier to just pick up and turn around rather than using the steering rods to lock two wheels).
-Jibbing. Everyone raves about the panthers move memory, and it can go as fast as the scissorlifts if u put it on full speed and hard ramps, but for a good grip, the control that the scissorlifts give is much more organic. Remember, u cant preprogram actors or dp s .

-Weight. Two people can carry a Panther 20 metres without breaking their backs. Enuff said.

To summarise, both are good working systems with slight advantages over the other. It actually comes down to the dp. In India, most work with panthers and distrust the scissorlifts. As a matter of fact, you would get similar negative reviews on the peewee from them. Most American and english dp s dont work with center columns and are quick to make fun of em. Also the dolly grip is always more comfortable with the system he learned on.

And this is a subject that can be argued till death. Grips love to argue about this like a "mine is bigger than yours" thing.

Also Movietech takes the Arco from Cinetech, an Italian company, and remarkets it. So its not exactly a Peewee, and does'nt really compare, the peewee being far better. Have never worked with the fisher or the magnum so when i do, i'll compare em .

I work for a Grip company in India called the GripWorks. Am eventually going to be a dp ( I hope ), and this is my first post. This is an awesome site, and im hooked.

Himmat.


the panther dolly weights about 150kgs. the Magnum dolly´s center column weights 72kg and basic dolly 68kg; You can take the Magnum´s center column off before carrying up two flights of stairs. it is easier on yr crew.
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#17 nhan mynhung

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 04:02 AM

the panther dolly weights about 150kgs. the Magnum dolly´s center column weights 72kg and basic dolly 68kg; You can take the Magnum´s center column off before carrying up two flights of stairs. it is easier on yr crew.

There are differences between the Movie Tech´s Magnum and Panther dolly in how they are built, payload, max. height. Magnum is more expensive than the Panther Classics or Super though.

You can use direct current as well as batteries on the Magnum dolly and as far as I know, every one has a couple of spares because both batteries ea. 24V have to be changed together.
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#18 robert duke

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 07:35 AM

Most DP's I work with HATE the Panther and the Movietech. They call it the dolly of death. I have watched DP's rip seats off of the panther while booming up. the offsets are awkward. the low mode is just odd.

I am not opposed to the panther but I wouldnt purchase one. The ARCO dolly is nothing more than a Chapman Peewee. Movietech was started by some techs from Panther that left and started their own company.

the one big problem I have with panther and movie tech is that the column is raised by a heavy duty spring, it is lowered by a motor. I have had the motor circuitry essentially let go and send the column flying up at a extremely fast rate. If an operator had been on it he would have been thrown off. The camera would have been damaged as well.
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#19 Rob van Gelder

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 11:30 AM

Robert, if the column went up in a very fast speed, it must have been because of bad maintenance! As someone who has done a service-training on these dollies, I know that there is enough safety build in that the column normally cannot go wild on its own, even if the electronics fail. It can only happen after serious neglect!

And then everything will fail, regardless of the brand name!
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#20 robert duke

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 03:13 PM

The Panther was privately owned but had just come back from servicing in Germany. We had uncrated it the day before. We ended up renting a fisher locally and shipped it back. It has occured on the same dolly twice since that time. The owner has since purchased a new Panther. although he still rents out the older one. I think my point is that a fisher or Chapman when the boom fails you go down, slowly most of the time. With the panther it goes up, and quick.
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