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Dolly+boom shot


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#1 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 07:11 AM

Hi all,

I'm trying to accomplish a shot where the camera tracks back along an apartment hallway, leading a character exiting his room, and then pans 90 degrees and booms up over his shoulder as he looks over the railing to reveal a character several floors below. I was thinking about using either a doorway dolly with a small jib, or something like a Fisher 10/11 dolly or a Chapman PeWee. The camera is an HVX200, so about 5lbs.

What's the simplest/most economical way of accomplishing this shot? The camera would need to travel from about 3'6" in height to 6'6".

I've never used a jib nor a Fisher dolly, so if anyone has any tips I'd be very grateful. I'm also located in San Francisco, so I'd be renting the dolly from DTC Grip in Emeryville, most likely. If anyone local knows where to rent a jib, let me know :)

Thanks in advance!
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#2 Bob Hayes

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 08:11 AM

You really want to use a small dolly like a fisher 10. But, they are pretty expensive to rent and you need to carry 1 million in insurance to rent one. So you may want to think about hand held. Or a mini Steadicam system like Glide Cam.
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#3 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 11:20 AM

For a move with that degree of pan, you might try to find an old center post dolly like the Elemack Cricket. It's basically the older version of the Panther. Don't go for the Panther, though, it's got too many parts for a student film to deal with. Good luck!
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 11:44 AM

You should be able to make a 3' rise on the standard arm of a dolly like the Fisher 11, with a 2' riser in order to reach 6':
http://www.jlfisher....dolly/index.asp

A jib arm would need more space to swing it around, so it would have to be pretty small, and you'd still need a dolly to move it on.

The other question is whether you will see your own track as you pull back down the hallway, because if so, you may consider a Steadicam instead, maybe with a small wooden ramp at the end so that the operator can end up higher over the shoulder looking down.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:46 AM

Thanks everyone for the quick reply!

Bob, you're right, I didn't even think about the insurance (duh). Since this is a low-budget student production, the Fisher dolly is probably out of our reach. I guess the Matthews doorway dolly + a very small, lightweight jib like the Microdolly jib (http://www.microdolly.com/micro_3.html) might be a better fit. The doorway dolly is quite reasonable budget-wise, about $70/weekend up here with two 8' sections of straight track.

Jon, thanks for the tip on the Cricket. Looks like it's hard to find up here in NorCal, unfortunately.

David, the hallway I'm shooting in is pretty wide, about 6', so I don't think clearance for a small jib will be an issue - does this sound right to you? As for seeing the track in the shot, I guess the simplest option would be to keep the pneumatic tires on the doorway dolly. I like the Steadicam idea, but again, probably out of our budget range - while I might be able to get an experienced operator willing to work a day for meal and copy, I'm sure they'd insist on production insurance for their gear (and understandably so).

For those who are interested, I found this link on the various dollies available for rent, and their attributes. Good for dolly newbies like myself. http://www.filmmaker...1997/moving.php

Also, for those in the SF Bay Area looking for jib rentals, I found this: http://www.chatercam...m/porta_jib.htm

Again, thanks to all who responded - I really appreciate it. I had an additional question about operating a Fisher-type dolly, if someone will oblige me - how do you keep your eye on the viewfinder when using the boom arm? It seems like the operator's seat is too low to comfortably operate the tripod head and look through the viewfinder even with a long extension. Of course, I've never used one, and I'm sure it works, but from the pictures online I can't see how.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 08:46 AM

If you can't keep your eye against the viewfinder during a boom / pan shot, sometimes the operator will work from an external monitor on the camera or dolly.
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#7 Paul Nordin

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 10:19 AM

You'll get great service from John Chater, I've been renting from him in SF for years.

I think the problem you will run into is maneuvering the jib arm + tripod head + doorway dolly in a hallway all at the same time. Jibs like the porta-jib (I own a Microdolly jib) will even in their most compact length extend just beyond the limits of comfortable reach from the dolly platform. To execute the move you are hoping to, you will need to operate the camera on the jib manually, which means holding the tripod head which is mounted on the end of the jib. From there you can manually control jib up/down, and camera pan/tilt. That can look great when you are standing still, or taking a step or two. But if you are walking behind the dolly tracking talent walk towards you down the hall, while dodging dolly track stands, and dealing with slight speed changes in dolly movement (which will happen with newish/student crews - best to expect it), it will be very hard to keep the camera locked for the tracking shot without a bit of wobble.

One trick I have used in the past is find a crewmember with a delicate & quick touch, lock the jib arm and tripod head for the tracking part of the shot, then with you holding camera, have your assistant deftly release the tripod head - then the jib arm locks the split second before you need to articulate them and hopefully as you stop walking. It will take some rehearsing to get the timing down, but is possible to get a very good low-budget indie result.

It would really be far easier though to rent a pee-wee dolly which is really not that expensive for a daily rental ($200) and will likely give you better results in a far shorter period of time...fewer takes.

Good luck
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 03:50 AM

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the heads up!

I was under the impression that the camera mounted directly to a plate at the end of the Microdolly jib without the need for a tripod head (I want to rent the Microdolly, not the Porta-Jib); I also thought you could control the tilt of the camera plate from the back of the dolly - is this not the case?

I'll give John Chater a ring and ask him if I can go see the jib in action before I decide to rent. I may go with the PeWee afterall. For those who are interested, I'll let you know how much insurance the rental house actually requires.
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#9 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 02:56 PM

6' wide is going to make using a jib very tough ... One way to figure out how a jib will work is to work out the move with a piece of rope that's the same length as the jib. Put a knot at each end, and then make a knot in the same spot as the fulcrum, (where the jib attaches to the base.) Keep the rope tight, the rest should be obvious.

As far as insurance for the dolly, it should be covered under your insurance for the shoot, which you should have anyway. (Doesn't the school provide it?)
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#10 Craig Bowman

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 04:02 PM

I have found the indie dolly has multiple modes and the track can be adjusted from wide mode as seen below to narrow mode to fit even through a narrow bathroom door. The configuration show below has a small crane attached. I have a ton of different configurations including a four position seat for the dolly, remote control vista head, crane extensions, etc. etc. The crane can be shortened or lengthened as required.

Posted Image
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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 02:44 AM

Well, I guess the consensus is that a jib is not the right piece of equipment for the shot. What I've decided to do instead is to have my camera op. handhold the camera while crouching on the doorway dolly (with two apple boxes for a riser), then slowly stand up, pan, and tilt down. He'll have a spotter, of course. I guess the simplest solution is best, at least for no-budget student/indie types.

Thanks for the rope tip, Jon. We have insurance for separate bits of equipment, but no production insurance per se - it really is a "no budget" shoot. Most of our gear is coming from our local community college (they don't provide insurance), with a few items like the doorway dolly coming from a rental house (which doesn't require insurance for that piece of equipment). Honestly, I know very little about how "real" productions handle this sort of thing; I'm in the process of crossing over from student-type guerrilla filmmaking to more professional filmmaking where most of you guys work. I've been working for the past year as a 2nd AC, and more lately as a 1st AC, but I DP student and indie projects on the side to learn and grow creatively.

Anyway, thank you to everyone who responded and offered their experienced perspectives - I'll let you know how it turns out!
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#12 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 04:58 AM

What I've decided to do instead is to have my camera op. handhold the camera while crouching on the doorway dolly (with two apple boxes for a riser), then slowly stand up, pan, and tilt down. He'll have a spotter, of course. I guess the simplest solution is best, at least for no-budget student/indie types.

This is exactly what I was going to suggest. I think you'll have the best chance for success that way. Part of the problem with dolly moves and jib arms is you need a good dolly grip to pull the shot off. Without one you're in trouble.
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#13 brian hendry

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 01:35 AM

.....i didnt read what everyone else has said. buuuut......look into a silder as well, they work wonders. if im pushing dolly on a show, i try and get one for the DP if he asks for it or not. ha
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