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favored portable but solid dolly


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#1 TJ Marbois

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:58 PM

I just wanted to get a general opinion of favorite dolly system thats portable - but still can carry heavy load and have hydraulic lift type smoothness of camera motion..?

Im looking at Panther, Fischer, Chapman pro dollies - and wondering if that nice slow smooth motion - is still possible with a lighter kit...I know that the smoothness of the motion is based a bit on the weight of the device... has anyone had good success with lighter dolly kit - but then sandbagged or loaded heavy enough to give similar results>? i.e.: can a doorway dolly with enough weight give close results?

( thanks...I know its not exactly a deep and worthy question..and Ive been reading the older posts to try and get this info without bothering people - but I just wanted the latest opinion if there is anyone that wants to share )

cheers!
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:16 AM

A Doorway Dolly on tracks isn't bad, although the wobble factor of how you mount the camera onto the dolly comes a factor. Any time I've used one it usually involves lashing down a tripod (which doesn't match a high end dolly), although you may get better results by bolting a bazooka onto the platform.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:20 AM

I don't think it's undeep or unworthy!

It's a very broad question, but it's also one that would keep any collection of grips talking for the rest of the evening.

And for what it's worth, I agree. Sometimes, low weight is a problem in itself. Even steadicam, which is notoriously heavy to carry around, only really works because it's heavy. The lightweight ones are terribly tricky.

P
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#4 Darryl Richard Humber

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:33 PM

I just wanted to get a general opinion of favorite dolly system thats portable - but still can carry heavy load and have hydraulic lift type smoothness of camera motion..?

Im looking at Panther, Fischer, Chapman pro dollies - and wondering if that nice slow smooth motion - is still possible with a lighter kit...I know that the smoothness of the motion is based a bit on the weight of the device... has anyone had good success with lighter dolly kit - but then sandbagged or loaded heavy enough to give similar results>? i.e.: can a doorway dolly with enough weight give close results?

( thanks...I know its not exactly a deep and worthy question..and Ive been reading the older posts to try and get this info without bothering people - but I just wanted the latest opinion if there is anyone that wants to share )

cheers!


The lightness of your camera won't affect the rise of the Chapman or Fishers but will affect the down, since they are gravity dependent on the descent. You might have to weigh them down a little for a quick drop.
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#5 Frank Glencairn

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:51 PM

I´m just in the process of building an - rather - light, but very rigid dolly with a riser arm.
It collapses down to the size, that you can put it in any car trunk, without scarifying professional look and mechanics.

Give me two more weeks and I can show some pics.

Frank
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#6 TJ Marbois

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:22 PM

I´m just in the process of building an - rather - light, but very rigid dolly with a riser arm.
It collapses down to the size, that you can put it in any car trunk, without scarifying professional look and mechanics.

Give me two more weeks and I can show some pics.

Frank



cool! can't wait...

and thanks to everyone who responded here... I didn't get a notification in my email for some reason.

:)

Im also looking at the old Elmacks ( spider and cricket dollys ) -- love this stuff....
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#7 TJ Marbois

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:32 PM

btw - I came here asking because as i studied all the modern 'cheaper' dollies designed for lighter DSLRs etc - I saw the same jittery, less than smooth results....and I felt there must be a better solution...

the professional dollies are designed for much heavier rigs...but they obviously gave spectacular results... Im looking for buttery smooth - but for lighter cameras if possible...Id love to shoot like Tarkovsky or Kubrick would have... with slow smooth motion that lets the viewer focus on the emotion... not the bumps and non smooth accelerations or decelerations....I know those acceleration/decelerations are because of weight / mass... slow to ramp up... hard to slow down....

I know the up down booms are from those nice hydraulic lifts...

seems that these new lighter camera rigs - there should be something that still lets you get these type of shots! Im willing to pay - if its gets me those shots....and i want to own one because then I can practice with it and hopefully improve my skills. Renting would only give me so much time - and Id rather have more time and just pay outright for the vehicle that lets me do this...I consider it paying for education.
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#8 TJ Marbois

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:50 PM

A Doorway Dolly on tracks isn't bad, although the wobble factor of how you mount the camera onto the dolly comes a factor. Any time I've used one it usually involves lashing down a tripod (which doesn't match a high end dolly), although you may get better results by bolting a bazooka onto the platform.


ah ok...I was hoping to find a rig that had some kind of booming up and down ( hopefully hydraulic smooth! )

thanks for the info - every bit helps!
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#9 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:12 AM

Deleted - repetitive (didn't read all posts

Edited by Sanjay Sami, 01 March 2012 - 12:15 AM.

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#10 TJ Marbois

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:17 AM

How would you get a " hydraulic lift type smoothness" without a hydraulic lift or lift of some type ?

If all you are looking for is tracking smoothness and no boom, then for sure you can.

Get Porta glide sled trays and build a platform out of 1.5 inch marine ply (prevents warping) and you will have an incredibly smooth dolly (for track only)


thanks!

I was just saying that I love hydraulic smoothness... if the only way to get that is with hydraulics then so be it - thats ok! I was just hoping that others would point me to light weight systems that produce that kind of fluid movement... perhaps there was a hydraulic system made for lighter cameras at some point etc... Ive been digging around and its hard to find all the manufacturers and types in one spot - and some of this equipment is not even available to buy...so I'm just asking in the hopes that people will enlighten me more!

I will look into the port glide sleds!! I do also want very smooth tracking.... ;)
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#11 TJ Marbois

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:22 AM

The lightness of your camera won't affect the rise of the Chapman or Fishers but will affect the down, since they are gravity dependent on the descent. You might have to weigh them down a little for a quick drop.


thats excellent information...thank you. I am expecting to use lighter weight cameras so this would be a problem!
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#12 TJ Marbois

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:30 AM

I don't think it's undeep or unworthy!

It's a very broad question, but it's also one that would keep any collection of grips talking for the rest of the evening.

And for what it's worth, I agree. Sometimes, low weight is a problem in itself. Even steadicam, which is notoriously heavy to carry around, only really works because it's heavy. The lightweight ones are terribly tricky.

P


thanks for being open to my question! Ive been digging around for this info - but Im convinced that it only really comes with experience...and this is where I found the most experienced guys to ask! :) all the replies so far have taught me something about the subject already. Awesome forum. cheers!
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#13 robert duke

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:34 PM

Most Hydraulic dollies give a smooth are movement because of the weight. As the load gets lighter the boom arm goes faster. There aren't a lot of options without the weight. you might consider a small jib arm on a doorway dolly. It wont hide the arc of the arm as a chapman does, but with a medium lenght (5ft) the arc is minimized by the short move.

I dont like the chameleon or the PD150. The build quality is sub par. Get a lease on a Chapman Peewee.
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#14 TJ Marbois

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

Most Hydraulic dollies give a smooth are movement because of the weight. As the load gets lighter the boom arm goes faster. There aren't a lot of options without the weight. you might consider a small jib arm on a doorway dolly. It wont hide the arc of the arm as a chapman does, but with a medium lenght (5ft) the arc is minimized by the short move.

I dont like the chameleon or the PD150. The build quality is sub par. Get a lease on a Chapman Peewee.


Hey thanks for the insight... I was actually looking at the PD150 and the Chameleon and a few others to boot. The Chapman is definitely the one that I really want to mimic... Ive seen Panthers too that appear to do what I want... but obviously expensive tools.

Have you had any experience with the older Elemacks? Spyder? or Cricket?

I think I can mimic the vertical movement possibly with a vertically mounted slider like a DitoGear or Kessler.... but that wouldn't be as ideal as the center mast rise that the pros use with hydraulic lifts...because then you can get a full jib arm on there that rises as well.

Im surprised theres no hydraulic solution for lighter kits yet... seems like the components exist to make this happen... anyone know of hydraulic lifts for lighter load cameras? or center mast risers that are electronically controlled?

cheers!
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#15 robert duke

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

the elemacks were great for their day. finding a reliable one is the tough part. parts are getting scarce and people to fix them are getting scarcer. The idea is that you want smooth movement. Mass provides that smooth movement. I have had problems with fisher 11s and peewees with 5ds. adding weight to the head much like steadicams help. Right now there are no small market dollys that have an arm that work great. The PD150 works but it is not great. the chameleon works but not great. there is an italian dolly that works better (dont know the name , saw it at cinegear 11) some guy in san fernando has one to rent.

the problem there is servicing a dolly. with no to little support from a manufacturer you can get up a creek pretty quick. I still recommend a small jib arm, there are some that have a drag system to assist in boom speed. the mass of the arm also assists in smooth movement. mass = momentum= greater muscle control= smoother movement.

the vertically mounted slider, unless you are talking about the new matthews slider/jib or ones like it you are left to deal with lifting the camera manually and your smooth boom is negated. yes the bearings move smooth, but your muscle lift may not.

lease a chapman or a fisher. you will have support, parts, accessories and the ability to rent it. rather than an item that cant be translated to another DP/Producer. Nothing says professional than showing up with a homemade dolly.
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#16 TJ Marbois

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 12:59 PM

the elemacks were great for their day. finding a reliable one is the tough part. parts are getting scarce and people to fix them are getting scarcer. The idea is that you want smooth movement. Mass provides that smooth movement. I have had problems with fisher 11s and peewees with 5ds. adding weight to the head much like steadicams help. Right now there are no small market dollys that have an arm that work great. The PD150 works but it is not great. the chameleon works but not great. there is an italian dolly that works better (dont know the name , saw it at cinegear 11) some guy in san fernando has one to rent.

the problem there is servicing a dolly. with no to little support from a manufacturer you can get up a creek pretty quick. I still recommend a small jib arm, there are some that have a drag system to assist in boom speed. the mass of the arm also assists in smooth movement. mass = momentum= greater muscle control= smoother movement.

the vertically mounted slider, unless you are talking about the new matthews slider/jib or ones like it you are left to deal with lifting the camera manually and your smooth boom is negated. yes the bearings move smooth, but your muscle lift may not.

lease a chapman or a fisher. you will have support, parts, accessories and the ability to rent it. rather than an item that cant be translated to another DP/Producer. Nothing says professional than showing up with a homemade dolly.


Thanks for the great infos!

I hear you that there are no pro level solutions for these new generation of cameras. For vertical I was actually thinking of using a motorized slider like the ditogear with servo drive... At least then I can get virtually smooth up and downs...and I suppose if it is attached to a decent jib arm - I can get a few other types of smooth motion.

I keep studying those chapmans and I really wish there was something lighter and easier to deal with...but I hear you that it's all about the mass that creates that smoothness.

Cheers
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#17 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 07:49 AM

How light are you looking for ?
The PeeWee cant be that much heavier than the Chameleon dolly or an Elemack.
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#18 TJ Marbois

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:38 AM

How light are you looking for ?
The PeeWee cant be that much heavier than the Chameleon dolly or an Elemack.


Sanjay

I was hoping to get light as possible without losing enough mass/weight to make for smooth rides... it would be nice if the additional mass needed was something that you could simply 'add' on when needed... instead of a 400lb cart that requires 4-5 guys with muscles to move around.

I may be dreaming here - but it seems that a lighter contraption could be innovated with potentially as smooth results... sounds like doorway dolly with weights on is the lightest but potentially best scenario so far? and Im assuming that rope track is no where near as good as solid track?

( I may be asking for too much here...But I thought it would be ok to ask the pro's... perhaps theres a dream solution that fits all the bells... light / portable / flexible for most situations... but has the smooth glide of a pro system... )

cheers!
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#19 TJ Marbois

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 12:43 PM

Has anyone had experience with this dolly?

http://www.g-f-m.net.../filmdolly.html

this looks very close to what Im looking for - with the jib arm attached and its lower weight - it appears to be very solid and capable... anyone use this one?

but it doesn't look to be for sale... just rental?
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#20 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 01:00 PM

Engage self-promotion mode. Self-promotion mode engaged.
I like this dolly!

Posted Image


Its portability is based on the amount of time you want to spend taking it apart and putting it back together. Unclamping the frame from the base turns it into a package smaller than the frame, anyway.

And yes, it desperately needs a jib arm, but I'm getting sidetracked by wanting to add motion control, and that's software, and software is a time sink.
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