|The finished slider working on set and easily carrying my full camera rig.|
Why not get or build a full-sized 'doorway' dolly you might ask... Well, i've got one of those and it's great for feature film sets...nothing does a 20m tracking shot like a proper dolly.. But, you need a van to transport it around and you need someone to push it.... not ideal for small shoots like music videos and to be honest, a lot of feature work requires quick set ups on indie shoots, and the full sized dolly ain't quick to get rigged.
My original idea was to build a 2m slider with a permanent track like a slider, but with a removable dolly that runs on skateboard wheels. The track should be solid enough that i can mount it on a pair of tripods for use at waist or even head height. I also wanted it to be tough.. it had to take the abuse that doing lots of set-ups in a day can dish out to equipment.
My first step was to make the dolly itself. I bought 8 old skool skate wheels from eBay. They had to be old as modern ones often have recessed bearings and i need to mount the wheels almost flush to the dolly. Older wheels are also usually made of softer rubber than today's skate wheels. I got 8 wheels for about a tenner. Result. Then i bought some aluminium box section and some wood. I cut the box section and drilled holes for the bolts which were going to hold the main wheels... then i drilled the piece of wood which was to become the bottom of the dolly to hold the other 4 wheels in a 2 + 2 offset arrangement. After messing around with various designs based on what i'd seen online, i decided against the 45 degree angle wheel mounting like a lot of DIY dollys use... it just seemed a bit unstable and made the dolly sit to high on the track.
|Version 1 of the dolly..(upside down here) Ally centre and wood top & bottom.|
|Slightly rough build quality for the 'test' version.|
After a bit of testing on the knocked-up version of the track, it became clear than the bolts holding on the main wheels where not working too well with the aluminium.... it also had a nasty 'hollow' sound as it moved. But... it worked really well. I decided to replace the side sections with wood and start again.
|See the wheels on the underside...they keep the dolly on the track.|
|Very simple construction inside...|
|Testing with the Cullman Titan Fluid Head attached with 3 big bolts.|
|More testing. The rails are 1.8m heavy duty chrome curtain poles.|
Finally, it just need a paint job. Luckily for me, this whole thing fits in my car so i can get around to shoots without renting a van.
On the first two shoots i used it on, it was perfect... i'm so happy with it...and it cost about £80 all in!
|The end result....|