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poor man's dolly


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#1 Natalie Saito

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:18 PM

what are alternative options to make relatively smooth camera movements (other than the dolly obviously)? the skateboard wont work..it's too low to the ground. i'd rent a model 11 but it's not worth it in this case. thanks!

Edited by NSaito, 06 June 2007 - 11:21 PM.

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#2 David Regan

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:54 PM

I've seen makeshift dolly's that work fairly well made of pvc pipe for track, and then angled wheels attached to a piece of plywood for the base. A metal pipe was used for a pushbar, and it worked fairly well.

Good Luck
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#3 David Auner aac

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 05:04 AM

what are alternative options to make relatively smooth camera movements (other than the dolly obviously)? the skateboard wont work..it's too low to the ground. i'd rent a model 11 but it's not worth it in this case. thanks!


Hi Natalie!

Use a wheelchair. Put a a piece of board over the arm rests and have the operator sit on that and put the camera to the shoulder. We used that trick quite a bit in several TV shoots.
Second makeshift dolly we used a lot was a normal supermarket shopping cart. Put a piece of board on that one as well. Or, if possible have the operator sit the cart, if he's slim enough to fit, that is. :D
On industrial shoots we used forklifts and all kinds of carts we had available in the shops we shot in. Just be sure to safety the camera operator and camera in some way.

Cheers, Dave
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#4 Nick LoCicero

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 06:10 AM

Hi Natalie!

Use a wheelchair. Put a a piece of board over the arm rests and have the operator sit on that and put the camera to the shoulder. We used that trick quite a bit in several TV shoots.
Second makeshift dolly we used a lot was a normal supermarket shopping cart. Put a piece of board on that one as well. Or, if possible have the operator sit the cart, if he's slim enough to fit, that is. :D
On industrial shoots we used forklifts and all kinds of carts we had available in the shops we shot in. Just be sure to safety the camera operator and camera in some way.

Cheers, Dave


Keeping the "dolly" weighted down is very important for making sure there aren't any wobbles in all the makeshift dollies I have made. Would you still have that problem if you had a cam op in the cart or on the wheel chair?
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#5 Troy Warr

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 06:25 AM

I believe that it was on the blog for the movie Spoon, shot with a prototype Silicon Imaging SI-2K (can't remember the name of the blog) that they put a camera operator on a furniture dolly (the upright kind that looks like a tall letter "L" with large wheels at the bottom back), leaned him back and wheeled him around. It seemed to be a pretty agile setup, but I would think that you'd need someone relatively strong to do the maneuvering, both the keep the operator steady and to prevent accidentally dropping him, which could be painful.

Those are usually well under $50 at Home Depot, or you can rent them from U-haul for about $7-8/day.
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#6 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:36 AM

Doorway dolly on shelving boards. If you need tracks, then you can put the doorway dolly right into a set of u-channel skateboard wheels. In LA those items should be easy enough to find at a reasonable price.
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#7 David Auner aac

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 03:21 AM

Keeping the "dolly" weighted down is very important for making sure there aren't any wobbles in all the makeshift dollies I have made. Would you still have that problem if you had a cam op in the cart or on the wheel chair?


Depends of the weight of the guy and the cam. Not much if it was me. I weigh around 70 kilogram including camera! :D
But it helps of course. Put a couple of sandbags in the shopping cart, much better to sit on these and heavier as well. Problems is that those carts are not very maneuverable when heavy. For a wheel chair you should be okay with operator only.

Cheers, Dave
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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 06:24 PM

The advantage of the wheelchair is that the wheels are big. They tend to ride over gaps that would make a larger bump with little wheels.

-- J.S.
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#9 C Kenneybrew

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 06:11 PM

What about cherry pickers? Are they expensive?What is a low budget way?
And is it the correct name?
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#10 Michael Collier

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 06:32 PM

Once in a pinch (actually it was a b-roll shoot for news) I used a bar-cloth. I put the cloth on the table, camera on that, and did a smoooooth pull back from some bottles of beer. It was a thing of beauty. don't know if that works for you, but just tuck it under your hat. Any smooth surface and a terry cloth will do the trick.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 04 July 2007 - 09:26 PM

Once in a pinch (actually it was a b-roll shoot for news) I used a bar-cloth. I put the cloth on the table, camera on that, and did a smoooooth pull back from some bottles of beer. It was a thing of beauty. don't know if that works for you, but just tuck it under your hat. Any smooth surface and a terry cloth will do the trick.


I've used the "duvetyn dolly" trick a few times. It works for some shots, not so well for others. Skate-wheel dollies are pretty cheap to rent. I've used those Rubbermaid library carts a few times; they're ok with a smooth floor and some extra sandbags.

Posted Image

Regarding the cherrypicker, I've gotten good "boom down" shots from those and man-lifts as well. Abrupt stop at the bottom though. ;)

Posted Image
Posted Image
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#12 Bryce Ratcliff

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Posted 09 July 2007 - 10:44 PM

In my last short I used a hand-push golf cart (ala Posted Image ), which has nice big wheels and is fairly dense --I was pretty proud of a few of the shots I managed to get ( especially because I was filming on tile). There are a number of ways a camera can be attached to one of these, but it probably isn't very useful for anything above really basic do-it-yourself films.

Just my 2 cents ;).

Tripods with wheels work nicely too...and escalators are great for "boom" shots :-p (though of course rather limited in their usefulness...)
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#13 Natalie Saito

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 09:15 PM

The advantage of the wheelchair is that the wheels are big. They tend to ride over gaps that would make a larger bump with little wheels.

-- J.S.


where can you rent one?

Edited by Natalie Saito, 18 April 2008 - 09:18 PM.

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#14 robert duke

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 09:30 PM

where can you rent one?

any home medical supply shop. or buy one at a salvation army, thrift store.
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