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Stupid question 2; Chapman or Fisher?


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#1 George Ebersole

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:10 PM

Is there a big difference between camera dollies?  Is one smoother than the other?


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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:59 AM

Chapman has a range of dollies, I've only used the Pee Wee in their range, but it's a lot lighter than the Fisher. I suspect the latter is more a studio dolly, while the Pee Wee is more practical on location.


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#3 George Ebersole

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:04 AM

I used to see the Fishers get hauled up from LA, but they looked really old fashioned with that steel body.  I never handled one, so I was curious.

 

Most of the stuff I've worked on past 99 to present uses the PeeWee, but before then it was the Hybrid and Hustler.

 

It's just that I've never seen anyone in the Bay Area, other than LA crews, use Fishers.


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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 12:49 AM

I would say it depends on the camera you're using. I have 35mm film cameras so I own a McAllister with the hydraulic riser. which is REALLY COOL! I got a really good price on it. It's a little bigger and heavier than a Fisher or Chapman studio dolliie but infinitely functional, even with skates installed for steel track. I probably paid less that 1 week rental for it.  I also own a 15 ft' Vinten ride on camera crane that will easily hold two full grown men with a studio camera. It was designed for 60s / 70s television cameras but I'm modifying it to add a 1st A/C seat so focus can be pulled. It's HEAVY despite being made primarily of aluminum, but very stable and maneuverable.with a REALLY tight turn radius. I love it because it has these 60s dragster style wire front wheels that make it look too cool for school!  Now, with light weight video cameras, we use a skateboard dolly on dollie track with a counter balanced crane arm that I actually built. We used that on our sizzle reel for "The Hunted". It had a cable control system that I built. It was hit and miss so we took that off and just let the camera operator physically control the crane, pan and tilt movement while the dolly grip and DP controlled the dollie move and lighting. The results were amazingly smooth and effective. I was originally looking for an old Moviola camera dolly but those, from what I've heard, are beasts and much more difficult to load onto track due to their weight. They were actually designed to roll off dollie track on smooth concrete or dance floor. They were prone to the occasional camera shake. If you watch the original 1931 Frankenstein, you'll see the shake in some of the dollie moves.


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#5 George Ebersole

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 10:58 AM

When I used to dolly grip a lot the local rental house had skates for the Hustler, but I could never figure out why, as the Hustler's wheels were already designed to be use on track.  Very strange.

 

Doing a quick search here; hmm, Moviola apparently made a lot of different camera dollies.  Interesting.


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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 01:12 PM

When I used to dolly grip a lot the local rental house had skates for the Hustler, but I could never figure out why, as the Hustler's wheels were already designed to be use on track.  Very strange.

 

Doing a quick search here; hmm, Moviola apparently made a lot of different camera dollies.  Interesting.

Probably noise. When we ran the dollie straight on the track, periodically, there would be a rubber squeak. Also it could have been harder on the dollie's tires. Just a guess. Yeah, Moviola was BIG into dollies back in the day. They always has a reputation for being heavy though which I suppose they must have had to been with those old Mitchel's and other huge cameras they had to carry. 


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#7 Mathew Rudenberg

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:20 PM

There's not a big difference but there are many small ones, I think it really comes down to personal preference.

 

For small/location dollies I prefer the Peewee III or higher to the Fisher 11 for two reasons - one being that the boom is sturdier, has more travel and switches into low mode more quickly, and two because the wheels can run directly on round (tubular track).

 

The Fisher square track system has always confounded me - why use the same surface on the track as you do rolling around on the floor? Surely it's going to get messed up. Of course many people just use skateboard wheels, but then you can't get as low...

 

For big/stage dollies I think the Fisher 11 is maybe a little better then the Hustler or Hybrid, the capabilities are similar but the pieces go together smoother.

 

Another option for location is the Panther dolly. Super lightweight since it's battery powered and the batteries can pop off to move it around. Also very flexible and I like their slider design. Low mode sucks though - very unstable with any camera of a reasonable weight. DP friend of mine loves it because you can put the boom control on the tripod pan handle and control it while operating (as well as program start and end points for a move) - good if you have an inexperienced dolly grip. Of course every American dolly grip I've worked with hates the thing.


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#8 Tom Banks

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 09:49 PM

I think Fisher has an overall better design.  Chapman tends to come with more nuts and bolts to change modes, etc..  Unless you get the Super PeeWee, changing to low mode is a clumsy process that requires several washers and small pieces that can easily get lost.

 

The one common positive I've heard from dolly grips about Chapman is that their hydraulic arm is much smoother to operate.


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#9 George Ebersole

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 11:49 PM

That's the one thing I remember about the Chapman, the hydraulics were very smooth and quiet.


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