Video Dolly

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Portable camera sliders are great, but they can't replace very long tracked dolly movements. Here's a recent DIY Seated Video Track Dolly project from Vimeo member TLA Productions. If you're planning on tackling one of these projects, here's a video with some tips to make your platform more stable, and some considerations about working on uneven surfaces.

I've actually built one of these before, and the most critical part is assembling a good wheel set. The wheels really have to be drilled perfectly to sit on the track exactly the same. Not an easy thing to do when you have a 16 wheels. If you drill just a few millimeters off, you'll notice it once you're going down the track.

For DIY projects, you'll most likely be using off the shelf pipes instead of professionally laid out tracks. For this, the swiveling design wheel set is the best because it can move and correct for misaligned tracks or imperfect alignment of your wheel mounts. A good set of swivel assemblies can also be used on curved tracks. Keep in mind you'll have to dish out more for a decent set of wheels and high quality bearings. There's a few good looking assemblies on eBay (Click Here).

Swivel Dolly Track Wheel Caster Set AssembliesDIY Wheel Dolly Track Swivel Set
find-price-button DIY Track Dolly Swivel Wheel Assemblies

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Here's a look at a prototype motorized trailer sent to me today and it's attached to a PNC Pico Dolly. Still a prototype, it's supposed be universal and have some mounting options to attach to several different dollies or maybe even sliders? The idea is to have a motorized push cart to have consistent movement all of the motors, batteries, wiring, and switches all self contained into one little unit.

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There's a few 1/4x20 threads to mount other accessories on the little push car too. From the image it looks like it's around 4" wide. I have no additional information about availability or pricing at this time. What do you guys think about something like this? For more about the Pico Dolly, you can find that information at the following page: http://www.photographyandcinema.com
Pico-Table-Dolly
Pico Dolly from PhotographyandCinema.com

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Varavon has released a new product called the VaraCrane which is a solid bar designed to mount a fluid head on one side and a counterweight on the opposite end. Throughout the VaraCrane are 1/4-20 and 3/8 threads for various mounting points or to reposition the counterweight or fluid head.

They also show examples of how the VaraCrane can be used to extend travel distance when combined with the new Slidecam S video slider. Adding wheels to the VaraCrane turns it into what they are calling a Dolly Cart. Hmm.. Both are available now, but let's leave this open for comments and what do you guys think about the new products? Find the new products via eBay (click here).

varacrane-varavonvaravon-varacranevaravon-dolly
find-price-button Varavon VaraCrane Jib and Dolly Cart

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This video is complete rambling about different feature sets of a few 'Small Camera stabilizers' I use. I have quite a few very large ones as well, but for now i'm just touching on these specifically because they are so close in what audience they are intended for. The three small stabilizers i'm showing are the Flycam Nano, the Glidecam HD1000, and the Skyler MiniCam (new and old). If you're not interested in knowing about the differences of such products, I suggests you skip this video since it's quite lengthy.

I'll start by saying that it's possible to get excellent results from ALL of these stabilizers. Don't be fooled to thinking you'll be achieving excellent results on the first day, even if you wanted to spend thousands of dollars on high end gear. With any stabilizer, it will require practice, practice, and even more practice. This video will probably generate more questions, but hopefully it's an insight of the different things to look for when shopping for a stabilizer.

Flycam:
The Flycam Nano does not have the best fit and finish as the other stabilizers, so obviously it will be much cheaper. It also does not carry the fine tuning knobs of a Glidecam HD series stabilizer. The Flycam Nano does not come with any type of Quick release system to make packing up and re-balancing more convenient.

Flycam-Nano
find-price-button Flycam Nano Video Camera Stabilizer

Glidecam: The Glidecam HD1000 has a quick release system, fine tuning knobs, and has better overall build quality and aesthetics. The quick release system will help you remove your camera from the stabilizer when you need to pack up, and makes it easy to get the camera back in the right spot for rebalancing. The fine tuning knobs help get very accurate alignment.
Note: Recently Glidecam released an XR version of their stabilizers which is cheaper, but will lack the QR plate and fine tuning knobs. (click here to see Glidecam XR-1000 via eBay)

Glidecam-HD-1000
find-price-button Glidecam HD1000 Small Video Camera Stabilizer

Skyler MiniCam: The Skyler MiniCam is the most expensive of these three small stabilizers. It's also the smallest and lightest, but yet can still fly just as much weight. You can remove all of the parts from the Skyler for travel and set it back up without having to rebalance. Everything falls perfectly in alignment. It also offers a quick release stage - not only for packing up, but it can be used to move your camera to a tripod, slider, cage, rig, etc with the included 'mounting base plate'. The design of the lower sled makes it easy to adjust up and down for weight compensation, and does not have the same potential to shift (like the Glidecam and Flycam models). Build quality is top notch.

Skyler-MiniCam
find-price-button Skyler MiniCam Video Camera Stabilizer Kit

If you're just starting out, doing it as a hobby, or just curious about flying camera movements you could start on the lower end. The actual practice of flying a stabilizer is more important than the stabilizer itself. Sell it off later when you're ready to upgrade or try renting one for a weekend to see if it's something you're interested in, and how often you think you'll be using it. If you're already flying a stabilizer and need more of the convenience of fine tuning knobs, quick release plates, compact for travel, and ease of rebalance, then look for the higher end models that offer some of those features like the Glidecam HD or Skyler Minicam.

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Vimeo member Dan Eckert has been working on a dolly project for some time to be used wit his Hyperlapse / Timelapse videos. The dolly is designed to have adjustable wheels to ride on rails or on terrain with pneumatic tires. The video above shows some examples of his work, but keep in mind that there is some scenes with image stabilization done in post. Aside from Time Lapse videos, the dolly still operates as a standard track or table dolly. Price of the unit starts at around $1500 + optional accessories. You can find more about his product (soon to be released) by visiting thecamtrac.com. [Thanks Dan]

the cambriccamtrac timelapse video dolly
camtrac dollydan eckert timelapse dolly camtrac

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Vimeo member Jayhas couldn't wait for Konova to release a faster motor for it's motorized upgrade kit, so he took it upon himself to add his own. Here's a comparison of the original Konova Motorized Pulley System with slow motor and a 60rpm gear motor mounted to a DIY slider. Watch the top portion of the video to see how different the maximum speed is on both. [Thanks Jayhas]. You can find some additional information on the Konova Upgrade Kits here http://cheesycam.com/konova-motorized-upgrade-kit-now-available/


Konova Upgrade Kit
find-price-button Konova Motorized Upgrade Kit for Konova Sliders

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Skyler MIniTrack Slider

Not sure how I didn't see this, but the same Skyler company that makes the MiniCam Stabilizer also offers a video slider. The Skyler MiniTrack slider comes in 60cm or 90cm length. Interestingly though it also comes with two axles to be used as a very long rolling dolly. I see the portionable axles more as a gimmick because it would be rare to find a surface big enough to be so useful. Personally, I think it would be better for Skyler to drop those extra features and lower the price on the entire unit.

Skyler MiniTrack Video DollySkyler MiniTrack Slider Dolly

When the wheels are not in use, there's adjustable legs to stay planted. The ends of the rail offer vertical mounting for crane-like shots. Prices on the MiniTrack start over $450 and for the curious, a sample video following the link (click here).

Skyler MiniTrack Video Camera Slider
find-price-button Skyler miniTrack Video Camera Slider

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Jordan received a replacement Varavon slider and it shows off a few added changes. First, the legs now have it's own dedicated bag instead of being thrown in with the entire slider. That's one thing I mentioned when I first received mine. If they all sit in the same bag together you could easily have parts getting scratched up. Nice to see a new bag.

IMG_2010

Another addition is an added mounting plate under the slider. For those who have the original version, the carrier brake can sometimes get caught up in the middle mounting hole if it wasn't raised completely. They have solved this issue by relocating the mounting threads to a mounting plate rather than on the track itself. [Thanks Jordan].

My first product overview video can be seen here: http://cheesycam.com/varavon-slidecam-lite-awesome/
Samples from this slider can be seen here: http://cheesycam.com/varavon-slidecam-lite-with-sony-nex-7/


Varavon SliderVaravon Bearings
find-price-button Varavon Slidecam Lite Video Camera Sliders

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Thanks to YouTube member dim3m for sending in this fine example of a modified Pico Flex Dolly. [Thanks dim3m] The rear trailer contains the servo, servo controller, batteries, etc. The laser alignment shows you the cross point reference for the center of rotation. Having motorized control gives you more consistent movement across the entire rotation. Aside from fancy rotating shots, the Pico Flex can mimic side to side slider shots, or push / pull dolly shots. Especially useful for B-Roll, cut away, or pick up shots with small product reviews. For more information on the Pico Flex Skater Table Dolly check out PhotographyandCinema.com.

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find-price-button Pico Flex - Table Skater Rotating Video Dolly

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