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best way to push in (without a dolly)


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#1 john heberle

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 10:12 AM

i have a shoot in a week, and for the last shot i want to start out wide and push in on a face. our school doesn't let us use a dolly until next semester, so what's the best alternative? i have a shopping cart that i'm using as part of the shoot, which i was planning on using to push in, but if there's something better to use i'd love to know. thanks
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#2 Andrew Koch

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 06:52 PM

Try using a wheel chair with good tires. You could also rent a camera slider, but that may be out of your budget. Where are you filming this? What kind of surface are you working on?
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 01:32 AM

Zoom lens, that what Altman used in the OR scenes in M*A*S*H.
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 03:03 AM

The shopping cart will work if the ground is very smooth. If not, you'll have vibration problems because of the hard tires. A wheelchair is a good suggestion, and generally easy to find. A doorway or western dolly would work fine too (unless your school considers those "dollies"). I wouldn't recommend a slider since it sounds like the move you want to do is longer than is possible with a slider.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 03:05 AM

Zoom lens, that what Altman used in the OR scenes in M*A*S*H.

That's a whole different look. AND it's not the 70's anymore!
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 12:21 PM

When I shot lots of Super-8 movies in the beginning, I built a simple dolly -- a 3'x4' piece of plywood with four rubber wheels and a metal push bar. Basically a doorway dolly. Then I carried around two 12' wooden planks to roll it on. Tripod on the dolly. I used wheels on the dolly that didn't rotate since I wanted straight moves and wanted to avoid the dolly swerving naturally as you pushed it.
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 03:41 PM

If you have a very smoother surface you can also screw plywood across 2 skateboards. Just keep them both straight when you're screwing them in.
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#8 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 05:36 AM

That's a whole different look. AND it's not the 70's anymore!

"our school doesn't let us use a dolly until next semester"

Yes but if you want to push in and you're not allowed to use a dolly and you want to FOLLOW THE RULES and not use ANY kind of dolly at all, it will work.

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 21 September 2008 - 05:37 AM.

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#9 Steve McBride

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 11:54 PM

Go to someone who has a young kid (not able to walk yet) and borrow their baby carrage that is made for running. Sit yourself down in it with the camera and have someone push you.
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#10 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 02:17 AM

I have a solution that works surprisingly well and only involves an 8 or 10 foot 2x4 and a 1/4-20 bolt. Drill the 2x4 midway so you can bolt the camera to it so that the 2x4 sticks out to the sides. You and one other person each grab and end. Move in, out, up, down, whatever you want.

The length of the 2x4 works against you creating camera shake. Also, having two people moving it kind of creates a natural dampening of motion. It works MUCH better than it sounds like it should. I did some moves like this when I was in school and they still hold up well. There were some fairly complex camera moves that compounded moves, jib movements, pans, and tilts. The only really tricky thing you need to keep an eye on is keeping your horizon level.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 10:56 PM

You know the other really simple way of doing this no one else has thought of yet is to just walk towards the subject with the camera hand held, again you've followed the rules and got the shot AND it would be good practice. You could even use one of those hand held stabilizers. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 22 September 2008 - 10:58 PM.

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#12 Serge Teulon

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 04:56 AM

A couple of sheets of plywood put together and a shopping trolley should do the trick.
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#13 David Desio

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 11:15 AM

How long does the push have to be? If your camera is light enough and the push short enough; you can do a trick with the camera on sticks.
Mount the camera as usual, then raise one leg so that only 2 are touching the ground. These two should be creating a base for the camera while the short leg should be up front.
While holding the pan/tilt arm, loosen the tilt lock, then carefully move your camera forward/backward and find the motion that works best for you. It's the rocking motion that creates the move.

I saw this technique somewhere online but can't find the link. I've tried it with an HVX200 with just the standard lens and no matte box and it worked pretty well, even fooled a co-worker.

Edited by David Desio, 23 September 2008 - 11:16 AM.

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#14 john heberle

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 10:19 PM

Zoom lens, that what Altman used in the OR scenes in M*A*S*H.


yeah not really the effect i want to go for.

i'm going to try and grab a wheel chair also. so with that and the shopping cart (with going handheld as a last resort) i should be able to get it done....hopefully.

thanks for all the tips!
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#15 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 11:59 PM

As much as I'm for bucking the system, they may not be allowing the use of a dolly so you can experiment. I definitely second the hand held approach, as it will allow you to focus more on the performances and not the technicalities behind nailing a "dolly" shot. And I'm saying this from experience. As a director, I used to focus a lot on the technicalities. Instead of trying to come up with a "dolly" replacement, just take what you have and embrace it.

As for the other methods, a couple quick thoughts:
Wheelchair - this is the best method when looking at precision, smoothness, and space.
2x4 Method - Was really smooth and precise in Army of Darkness, however, they had a lot of space to use this method.
Tripod Method - Very interesting, never heard of that, but very interesting.

Edited by Mitch Lusas, 27 September 2008 - 12:04 AM.

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#16 Steve Absalom

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Posted 28 September 2008 - 06:16 PM

John, where will you be shooting? I mean what kind of ground is it? Depending if its wooden planks, dirt, concrete, or gravel, it may be difficult or easier to try certain things. There may be a work around.
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#17 john heberle

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 12:25 PM

John, where will you be shooting? I mean what kind of ground is it? Depending if its wooden planks, dirt, concrete, or gravel, it may be difficult or easier to try certain things. There may be a work around.


we're going to be re-shooting the last few scenes including the dolly move (which we didn't get to last time). the push should be like 4 or 5 feet, and i think i'll be able to get my hands on a wheelchair.

but i like that tripod move, and want to work it in somewhere in the future.
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#18 john heberle

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 04:07 PM

oh and the move is just up a sidewalk. so it should be able to get a smooth moment with the chair.
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#19 Steve Absalom

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 06:44 PM

I've heard of using a wheelchair before. I actually knew a guy who was on a professional commercial shoot for some liquor company and the director brought one crew member, a DP and they had a camera and a wheelchair. One sat in the wheelchair, the other pushed. Bam, professional commercial - I guess if it works...

But where do you put the camera? Would you really have someone holding it or would you put the tripod in the seat of the chair... or the camera in the seat... or maybe perched on an armrest?
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#20 Frank Barrera

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Posted 05 October 2008 - 08:36 PM

I've heard of using a wheelchair before. I actually knew a guy who was on a professional commercial shoot for some liquor company and the director brought one crew member, a DP and they had a camera and a wheelchair. One sat in the wheelchair, the other pushed. Bam, professional commercial - I guess if it works...

But where do you put the camera? Would you really have someone holding it or would you put the tripod in the seat of the chair... or the camera in the seat... or maybe perched on an armrest?

the operator sits in the chair with a Hi-Hat rigged across the arm rests of the chair. tripod head in Hi-Hat and away you go.
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