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Are hydraulic dollies passe?


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#1 Matt Meyer

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 07:51 PM

I teach in a small film school in Oregon. I'm looking for a studio dolly with a hydraulic boom. While I'd love a Chapman or Fisher, I expect a Moviola or McAlister is more in my price range. However, I've been searching online for a year, and have only seen a couple for sale.

Question 1) Anyone have a garage full of old Moviola dollies?

Question 2) It seems most student filmmakers are using skateboard dollies. I want to train my students in the "right" way to do things, but maybe that's changed since I was in film school 15 years ago. With cameras getting lighter and lighter, do we still need a big studio dolly?

Thanks much,
Matt
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#2 Gus Sacks

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:29 PM

I teach in a small film school in Oregon. I'm looking for a studio dolly with a hydraulic boom. While I'd love a Chapman or Fisher, I expect a Moviola or McAlister is more in my price range. However, I've been searching online for a year, and have only seen a couple for sale.

Question 1) Anyone have a garage full of old Moviola dollies?

Question 2) It seems most student filmmakers are using skateboard dollies. I want to train my students in the "right" way to do things, but maybe that's changed since I was in film school 15 years ago. With cameras getting lighter and lighter, do we still need a big studio dolly?

Thanks much,
Matt


Well, what skateboard dollies can boom?

Haha, if your students wanted the best, they'd beg for the good stuff.
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#3 Kenny N Suleimanagich

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:42 PM

http://www.alangordo...lyjibs.html#pd1
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:47 PM

With cameras getting lighter and lighter, do we still need a big studio dolly?


"Big" is relative, but yes. ;)

Even lightweight cameras can benefit from more substantial support, although prosumer gear can get away with much less. A good O'connor 2575 head still weighs the same amount, so you still need enough support for that, plus the operator.

And on the professional side, most newer HD and 35mm cameras aren't all that much lighter, especially with all the accessories. Here's an F900 from a recent shoot in "base" configuration (on a Fisher dolly):
screenshot.jpeg

The "low budget" 35mm feature I just finished Gaffing/2nd unit DPing used Panavision G2's, which are just as heavy as they ever were. And Arri BL 4's still get a lot of use for low-budget 35mm work.

I believe Chapman only leases their gear. Not sure about Fisher. You might look into Panther and Movietech.
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#5 nathan snyder

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 10:33 PM

Matt,

I teach in a film department at a University in Idaho. We may not be far apart geographically. Anyway, We rent a fischer 10 for a great price because fischer gives a serious discount to academic institutions.

BTW, if you really need a big dolly you might also consider a Fearless. I personally have both a Fearless and a Mcalister, and I sometimes prefer the old monstrous fearless, but no modern production crew will take a fearless seriously.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 05:58 PM

I teach in a small film school in Oregon. I'm looking for a studio dolly with a hydraulic boom. While I'd love a Chapman or Fisher, I expect a Moviola or McAlister is more in my price range. However, I've been searching online for a year, and have only seen a couple for sale.

Question 1) Anyone have a garage full of old Moviola dollies?

Question 2) It seems most student filmmakers are using skateboard dollies. I want to train my students in the "right" way to do things, but maybe that's changed since I was in film school 15 years ago. With cameras getting lighter and lighter, do we still need a big studio dolly?

Thanks much,
Matt

The important thing for students to learn about the dolly is that it's the most efficient way to get from one setup to another. That's its main purpose, not making moving shots.



-- J.S.
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#7 Rik Andino

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 12:12 AM

It seems most student filmmakers are using skateboard dollies.
I want to train my students in the "right" way to do things, but maybe that's changed since I was in film school 15 years ago.
With cameras getting lighter and lighter, do we still need a big studio dolly?

Thanks much,
Matt


When I was in film school I used a skateboard dolly with PVC pipes are track
Sometimes we used a wheelchair for better mobility
That's how we learn how to create dolly shots...

However I've been gripping for several years now and I almost only use a JL Fischer 11 or 10
Sometimes I see a Chapman PeeWee or older hydraulics dolly
But rarerly ever do we work with a skateboard dolly.
In the professional set the standard is the Fischer.
(Which conicidentally aren't sold but leased to companies like a car, contact Fischer to see their rates)

However it's important to learn what the purpose of a dolly and the shot is for...
If I haven't learn on a skateboard and wheelchair dolly and consequently older hydraulic dollies I wouldn't be a better grip for it.
My experience with different forms of equipment helped honed my skills and taught me the importance of problem solving
(an invaluable set skill for a grip) & helped me to know what to do when I finally got to handle better equipment.

Consequently you have to ask yourself are you teaching your student to become grips or filmmakers
If you are teaching them how to be a grip than yes getting a hydraulic dolly will be very beneficial
But if they want to become filmmakers the benefit of a hydraulic dolly isn't that important there's other skills they can be learning.
So don't worry about not having the best dolly available you're students will eventually learn to use them when necessary.

Good Luck
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 09:51 AM

You can't buy either Chapman or Fisher - they're only leased.

There's a german company called Movie Tech that was started by ex-Panther employees and they produce some pretty cool dollies. One is the PeeWee-killer, the Arco:

http://www.movietech...lish/arco_e.htm

They've also refined the column design dolly (like the Panther) in their Magnum dolly. This is the ultimate Panther, so to speak. The Magnum has the smoothest column
in the business - no Fisher or Chapman comes close to it for smoothness and precision. It's also got a lot of other improvements. Of course, center column dollies are an aquired taste, since they become a bit awkward when you have to hang snakes on them to get the camera low. I'm personally a big defender of them in a solid PeeWee-ified grip community. but they're not right for all jobs. Check it out:

http://www.movietech...sh/magnum_e.htm

One great thing with Panther/Magnums is that the operator can control the column as he's operating with the remote attached to the pan bar. This makes for smoother jibs because no matter how experienced a grip is, he will struggle to do feathered and smooth jibs at the same time as he's tracking.
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#9 Matthew Rogers

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 02:19 PM

You can't buy either Chapman or Fisher - they're only leased.

There's a german company called Movie Tech that was started by ex-Panther employees and they produce some pretty cool dollies. One is the PeeWee-killer, the Arco:


So do you know how much the Arco costs? Or is it rental only like Fisher?

Matthew
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#10 Mitch Gross

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Posted 22 August 2007 - 09:41 PM

If you've ever used an Arco you know it's no Pee-Wee killer. It's more like a career killer when it breaks down on your job. It was really fun watching the wheel fly off while we were free-wheeling down a hallway once.
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#11 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 07:24 AM

That wheel falling off wasn't good, but since it isn't leased but owned by the rental company, maybe they hadn't maintained it properly?

I just find the grip community more conservative than Pinochet at times. I even here have trouble getting Fisher 11's on my job because the grips moan and want the PeeWee instead. That's what they learned on, that's what they're gonna use, come hell or high water. Don't get me wrong, the PeeWee Mark 4 is a fine dolly, but the Fishers lateral stability in
the jib is better. So if I know I'm going to be hanging the camera far out on an extension, I find Fishers better. They're also better to stand on and I like that little block battery compartment.
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#12 Mitch Gross

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Posted 23 August 2007 - 09:13 PM

That wheel falling off wasn't good, but since it isn't leased but owned by the rental company, maybe they hadn't maintained it properly?


It was the third rental, tenth day of paid work on the dolly. And yes, it was assembled properly in the first place. The cotter pins were of an inferior design and had to be modified to be trustworthy.

I agree that grips don't like to change their tools, although I usually find it the other way -- they want to use the Fischer 11 while I want the small size and versatility of the PeeWee.
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#13 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:01 AM

What about the Moviola dollies, I know they are old and heavy but they look pretty good and are cheap.
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#14 Mitch Gross

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 09:57 AM

Nothing wrong with a Movieola, other than it is a huge beast that is not as manuverable, cannot mount on track and doesn't have accessories like the others.
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#15 Trevor Swaim

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 06:57 PM

I know it isn't up to the pee-wee or arco level of features but has anyone here used a Premier studio PD-1 dolly? If so was it worth a look or is it just an also ran?

http://www.premierst....com/index.html
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#16 Patrick Neary

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 09:23 PM

I've wondered about these too- especially while sitting on an apple box on a doorway dolly....
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#17 Mitch Gross

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 07:58 PM

It's certainly better than a doorway with an apple box, but I don't think there's an outfit out there that rents them. At the price point this is pretty much a purchase-only dolly. But it does work just fine.

Don't bother with their attempt at a high end "PeeWee-like" dolly, the Phantom dolly (not to be confused with the high speed digital cameras).
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#18 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 09:47 AM

I pretty much split my time between sitting on an apple box on a doorway, and sitting on a fischer 10/11. Can you guess which I prefer?

If your students don't appreciate the ability to boom, I think they need detention. :-)
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#19 d humber

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 02:59 AM

That wheel falling off wasn't good, but since it isn't leased but owned by the rental company, maybe they hadn't maintained it properly?

I just find the grip community more conservative than Pinochet at times. I even here have trouble getting Fisher 11's on my job because the grips moan and want the PeeWee instead. That's what they learned on, that's what they're gonna use, come hell or high water. Don't get me wrong, the PeeWee Mark 4 is a fine dolly, but the Fishers lateral stability in
the jib is better. So if I know I'm going to be hanging the camera far out on an extension, I find Fishers better. They're also better to stand on and I like that little block battery compartment.

Actually the Fisher 11 is one of the most unstable dollies on the market. The arm doesn't have the lifting capacity to handle a standard 35 mm camera. it is slow on the up and rushes the downs. Also, the design makes it inherently unstable. The Fisher is a "box" meaning the wheels are under the chassis. The Chapman peewee and Hybrid wheels are on outriggers making the chassis more stable.
Due to a problem, my name has been misprinted. It is Darryl Humber
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#20 d humber

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 03:02 AM

It was the third rental, tenth day of paid work on the dolly. And yes, it was assembled properly in the first place. The cotter pins were of an inferior design and had to be modified to be trustworthy.

I agree that grips don't like to change their tools, although I usually find it the other way -- they want to use the Fischer 11 while I want the small size and versatility of the PeeWee.


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