Tag Archives: curved track dolly

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Sliders are great, but track systems will offer you more travel. Gimbals are great systems to move the camera long distances, but is not ideal when your movement has to be repeated. Using a track dolly system will let you take advantage of long lenses and shallow depth of field without having to worry about your subject falling out of frame or out of focus. It's a more controllable and predictable tool that offers high production value that any operator can use without much practice or experience. Every shooter should have access to a good tripod track dolly system.

Recently we were able to try on CAME-TV's new Tripod Track Dolly system that allows you to perform curved tracking shots or straight linear tracking shots. The system is unique as it uses strong Magnets to combine the rails together making it fast and easy to setup - no tools.

Anytime you join tracks, you have to worry about the seams not aligning and causing a bump in tracking. But the Magnetic rails matched up perfectly, and the tripod dolly with 3 swiveling casters and a total of 12 smooth bearing wheels gave us extremely smooth footage.

The kit comes packed neat in a carrying case and is extremely lightweight. The base kit comes with a set of curved rails and straight rails. You can combine all of the the tracks in the kit and even purchase additional tracks to make up more variety. This system can work on slightly textured surfaces, but works best on level ground.

The CAME-TV Tripod Dolly and Magnetic Track System is made with quality, and definitely affordable compared to other similar systems. The fact that it comes with both curved and linear rails allows you to get creative right out of the base package. For more information, check out the product page at http://CAME-TV.com (here).

came-tv tripod magnetic track dolly
Learn-More-sm CAME-TV Tripod Dolly and Magnetic Track System

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The Alzo Video Smoothy Radius and Linear Video Slider was first shown at NAB 2015, and they wanted to send one out for me to test drive. The slider can track in a straight line (linear) and then can be reassembled into a curved (radius) track for keeping a subject in frame and in center. Here's a little overview.

Riding on a track of this design requires careful hands to prevent any micro jitters. In some cases my shaky hands transferred slight vibrations, but after running a bit of post image stabilization the footage was fine.

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radius-straight-slider-front-angle-350w
VIEW-ITEM Alzo Smoothy Radius and Linear Video Slider

The Alzo Radius Linear Slider is limited to small lightweight camera and lens combinations, and also requires you to be at least 6 feet away from your subject to use the Radius effectively. At 4 feet long it might be a bit too long for constant travelers. Overall I think it's certainly a unique design, and we were able to get some decent results. But what do you guys think about the new Alzo Smoothy Radius and Linear video slider? Leave your comments below.

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This short video shows a very simple way to motorize a tripod track dolly using friction between two wheels. In the video below i've modded the Cinerails Snaptrack kit.

The main parts are a simple DC motor and Speed Controller from Servo City, and small venom 11V 3S Lipo battery. I mounted the Speed Controller up top so I don't need to bend over to change speed or direction. I mounted the motor just over one of the track wheels, and used washers to get the right amount of spacing.

Unfortunately these were spare parts laying around my house, so I don't have the exact part numbers. While I work on getting that together, here's a few links to get you started. I'm sure If you contact ServoCity.com they can probably help you out with an entire kit.

Parts

  • Gear Motors
  • Motor Mounts
  • Wheel Shaft Adapters
  • Motor Speed Controller
  • Venom 11V 3S Lipo Battery Small

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    I recently posted on my Instagram about using the Cinerails Dolly System for an interview, just so we could add a bit of movement for a B-Roll camera angle. It's a very simple way to add smooth camera movement to what would normally be a static shot. The kit was sent to me by the Cinerails company, and after using it a few times, I strongly believe it's going to be a steady part of the equipment we use in our future projects.

    A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

    If you're not familiar with the Cinerails Dolly System, it's a Tripod Dolly System that can be used as a straight or curved track and is completed by adding common 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC pipes found at just about any hardware store.

    Cinerails SnapTrack Camera Dolly System
    Learn-More-sm Cinerails Track Dolly System

    The benefit to working with this system is that you can always travel (example: flying out of state) with the Cinerails System and pick up PVC pipes at your destination. By my house I purchased 10ft PVC pipes for about $3 dollars each. I cut them down to 9 ft, so I can fit them in my tiny Honda Fit. Check out the overview video below about the kit.

    What you get is 7 Cinerails (to connect to PVC), a Cinerails Tripod Track Dolly (with casters), and a Draw Cord (used to create an arc). Using a curved track will maintain your subject in frame without having to pan the camera, and creates that highly desired parallax effect. The system is dead quiet so you don't have to worry about any sounds interfering with your audio during interviews. While I think our shot came out great, we could have improved it using a few tips from this recent Filmmaking Tip video - via Cinerails.

    The entire system weighs practically nothing, is easy to setup, and will add high production value to your projects. Now if you already have a Tripod Track Dolly, the set of (7) Cinerails will only run you less than $60 dollars.

    For more information about Cinerails, visit their website (Click Here).

    Cinerails Tripod Track Curved Dolly System
    find-price-button Cinerails Track Dolly System
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    If you're not familiar with the history behind the website name, it's derived from many of the 'cheesy' ideas and 'cheesy' DIY projects that I've built and shared through this website. So here's another 'cheesy' project i've been tinkering with, and I thought i'd share where i'm at with it.

    I was looking for a super portable platform dolly in which we can push around a camera operator. Traditional video doorway dollies were too large and expensive for my needs. I wanted something more compact, lightweight, and fast to get setup.

    The dolly needed to be able to repeat a set path whether it be forward / back / side to side or even a curved path. For curved paths I wanted to be able to change the size of my arc. A repeatable Arc allows me to perform fixed point shooting. I wanted to be perform all of these functions without carrying a set of dolly tracks. It also had to be compact enough to fit in the trunk of my Honda Fit (small car).

    I tested a few different ideas and came up with a very minimal design that only required two adjustable axles. I had no idea if this would even work, so I mocked up a table top version with balsa wood (seen below).

    Cheesycam Prototype Dolly DIY Video PLatform Dolly Project

    Once I knew the system would fold and track the way I needed it to, I started out with a 2x2 plywood base and bolted up steel square tubes. I literally went through a few sets of wheels including pneumatic ones, but to keep costs down I finally settled on these inexpensive smooth scooter wheels (found here).

    Cheesycam DIY Video Dolly Scooter Wheels Track Dolly
    find-price-button Scooter Wheels

    The swiveling push handle costs under $8 dollars found on Harbor Freight (here). The push handle can be collapsed or telescoped when you need the longer length. It comes with a clip to hold it in place during travel.
    cheesycam diy video track dolly push handle swivelswivel folding push dolly handle cheesycam
    find-price-button Swivel Folding Compact Push Handle

    My design keeps the entire system as compact as the platform itself, but as the axles expand it uses a wider stance. Once the axles are expanded, I have holes drilled into the platform so I can drop a bolt down and lock the axles in place. I have several holes depending on if I need it straight or curved. With these holes in place, I don't need to figure out if my axles are aligned. It literally only takes seconds to setup, break down, and change tracking positions.

    DIY Video Dolly Cheesycam Platform curved track dolly arc tripod Cheesycam DIY Doorway Dolly Platform Tripod Track Dolly

    You can place a tripod directly over the platform, but you will most likely pick up vibrations if the surface you roll on is not smooth. Our method is to place a camera operator onto the platform with either a hand held stabilizer, a gimbal, fig rig, or at least a shoulder rig. Since many cameras offer image stabilization, we're getting great results with a tool that is fast to setup and easy to move around.

    Tripod Mounted DIY Video Dolly Track Curved Arc DIY Video Dolly Stabilized Camera GH4

    So now that I was able to prove the basic design concept is functional, i'll probably recreate this with better materials, add some additional missing features (i.e. tripod lock), and give it a more professional finish with a rubber mat over the platform.

    Well hopefully you found this project interesting and maybe even inspiring enough to build one yourself. If you liked this you'll probably enjoy some of the other ideas I will be sharing in the near future, so please subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Follow me on Twitter, or Like my Facebook Page.

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