My first little CamDolly shoot

I had a small little shoot the other day for Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle De Cuir, a very interesting interview and roundtable discussion with esteemed author Orson Scott Card for the nice people at Macmillan Audio.  Stefan and Gabrielle produce some great audio books and the discussion, which included three other actors as well, was centered around the upcoming production in Orson’s Ender’s Game series.  It was very interesting to hear the authors thoughts on the audible versions of his work, as well as the actors thoughts on his written word, and I strongly recommend checking the material out when it’s released.

The roundtable was a simple 3-camera shoot and my new CamDolly came in very handy, lending some energy to the wide shot.  A few stacks of books in the foreground, some slight lateral movement and voila, the shot came alive.

Quick sample of the dolly shot from the roundtable with Orson Scott Card. All footage © Macmillan Audio.

I also used the dolly in a way I’m sure was never intended – running it as a slider off the floor with a tripod on top. We did do some stuff on the flexible rubber track as well, but since we had limited space for this particular setup and only needed a single, straight move we chose to go with the slider/tripod option. Normally I would have raised the slider off the ground to eliminate the tripod height and make the whole thing less top heavy and thereby more sturdy, but since the dolly is so new I haven’t had a chance to buy stands for it yet and we had run out of C-stands!

In order to counteract the natural (and very slight) dip in the pipes as the assembly weighed it down, I placed the “spacers” that came with the system on the floor, centered under the pipes, and adjusted the end mounts to match the height off the floor. That gave me a tremendous amount of support at the center of the track and kept everything nice and steady throughout.

The system performed remarkably well, despite me pushing it from the top, basically pushing the whole rig from the tripod head to be able to affect the pan during the move. The dolly was still very smooth and surprisingly sturdy. Cam op Adam Sherer noted how he had used another dolly on a shoot and how this one felt a lot more sturdy, flexible and made to last. I feel the same way compared to many other Dolly systems. This will never replace a Fisher (or Panther, if you’re in Europe) with hydraulic lift mechanism, but you also don’t need a truck to transport it or four guys to get it off the truck. In fact, the dolly’s in the trunk of my car right now, flexible track and all, and the trunk’s not nearly full!

I look forward to trying the rig out in all the other configurations and I’ll report back as soon as I have. Meanwhile, below are a few more pics of the rig. I of course forgot to bring a decent camera to take stills so these are courtesy of my trusted gaffer and cam op Chris Rutkowski who remembered to pull out his iPhone.

3 thoughts on “My first little CamDolly shoot

  1. Nice shot indeed.
    Thanks for the compliment Joel.
    Believe it or not,… This is exactly what I was going for when designing it. That is the reason why “the tripod cups” are removable and can be positioned on just the core piece (with any of the 3 wheel sets that come along) as well as on any of the bigger configurations.
    It is very nice to see that you actually came up with this assembly intuitively as I’m always explaining how very intuitive and simple it is to set up the CamDolly.
    For limited space the tripod cups come very handy since you are only limited by the height of your tripod.

    I am very happy that the CamDolly is performing (so far) in the way that meets or maybe even exceeds your expectations.

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