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Old February 19th, 2010, 09:09 AM   #1
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Location: Lansing, MI
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If I build a Straight-only Dolly...

Hello all,
This title probably implies how new I am, so thanks for taking the time to read my question.
The short version of my question is this: Is a straight-only dolly good enough for now?

Here's the longer version:
I'm very confident I can build this dolly, and it looks to perform well:
YouTube - HOW TO MAKE A TRACK DOLLY ~ LOW-BUDGET FILMMAKING (UK)

...but it's only a straight dolly, the wheels will be fixed to straight angle-iron, running on pvc.

So my question is this, will I be very handicapped without access to a curved dolly shot? Watching films, it seems more common to see the (straight) shot moving toward the subject (straight), or the sideways shots. I tend to only "notice" the curved shot in marketing videos as a product is circled for examination. Or am I wrong? ...perhaps the curved shot is more common in cinema, and I don't notice it because it's so natural to the oserver's eye (and therefore necessry to a good director)?

I'm thinking I can be pragmatic and just build it straight (and SHOOT something now!) then re-building the base when I can afford the curved stuff. ..and retrofit for curves later when budget for the rubber track comes available.

Is this an ok plan, or am I seriously impaird without curves from the get-go?

Many thanks for any opinions you can offer.
-Jerry
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Old February 19th, 2010, 09:31 AM   #2
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From what I've read, (with the exception of a 360 degree circle) curved dolly tracks are rarely used in film production. You'll probably be just fine with a straight dolly.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #3
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Thanks! Appreciate the feedback.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 01:19 PM   #4
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I will echo Nate's point. The only time we tend to use curved track is for 180 to 360 degree shots, basically never for slight curves or arcs. We DO use dance floor for those, which is something that is virtually unknown in the indie dolly market. I'm wondering how long it will be until someone develops a low-cost crab dolly that will allow for this (i.e., four-wheel steerable).

Definitely move forward with your straight dolly, and if you have access to Steadicam, use that for compound moves (or handheld).

Just for fun I attached a picture of the last time I can recall riding on circular track--picture is dated 9/06. That's tight-radius track in use. If memory serves I had to keep the lowest possible profile to avoid shadows on Mr. Malkovich, hence my scrunched-down appearance, and the back-mounted mag. My focus puller was working remotely.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 08:10 PM   #5
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It is very difficult to build curved track and keep the geometry correct. You would be far better off renting for the day. You can probably accomplish what you need to do with a little careful planning in blocking.

Paul Hudson
Lizardlandvideo.com
Phoenix Video Productions
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Old March 25th, 2010, 10:25 PM   #6
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I built this one: DV Show's Video Tutorials: DJTV-Build Your Own Dolly

Not hard at all... works great and very inexpensive.
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