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January 13, 2015

by V. Renee of nofilmschool.com

Dolly HacksCamera movement is one of those aspects of filmmaking that, if done well, can make your film look like a million bucks. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you’re probably not going to be able to drop the necessary cash on pricey sliders, dollies, jibs, etc., but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your footage to look like you did. In yet another excellent video from our buddies at Film Riot, we’re given a bunch of  ideas on how to pull off buttery smooth dolly, tracking, and crane shots using everyday household items.

A few of these ideas are probably things you’ve already tried before, like using an office chair for dolly moves. However, there are definitely a couple of techniques in the video that you might not have thought of yet. Check them out below…

Repurposing stuff with wheels

Office chairs and wheelchairs are great, especially for indoor camera moves, as long as you can manage to keep your camera stabilized as you hold it. In my experience, office chairs are tricky, because the wheels don’t always allow you to go in the direction you want at the speed you want. And the wheels are so small that they tend to pick up a lot of shock, which is why wheelchairs are a better option in my book.

Rollerblades and skateboards are also a good option, though I’d suggest longboards over skateboards, since they provide a smoother ride. Oh, and make sure you know how to rollerblade/skate. If you don’t, you will fall, and no one wants that (especially your elbows, knees, and camera).

Cars

Putting your camera on a car is one of the best cheap, DIY ways to get smooth shots outdoors. The key to this is, of course, to make sure that 1.) you’ve got a shock absorber (sandbag/pillow/blanket/etc.) on which to set your camera, and 2.) you’ve got a spotter next to (or with one hand on) the camera just in case it wants to take a nasty spill. If you want to get a tracking shot at a higher speed, try to get your hands on a truck. You can sit in the bed and have a 180˚ view of your surroundings.

Cardboard

This suggestion is pretty nifty, especially since getting your hands on a large piece of cardboard is relatively easy and, more often than not, free. One alternative you can try is using a blanket — a thick one — no throws. For smaller camera moves, which would probably only really work for DSLRs, you could use paper plates, pizza boxes, or similar items.

(Bonus: You could also use pretty much any object with a flat surface as long as you have wooden dowels — or anything that rolls. Just make sure that the object — I’m thinking a piece of wood — is long enough to cover the distance you want as you roll it over the dowels.)

Do you have any suggestions on some inexpensive DIY dolly hacks?

[via Film Riot]

 

 

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