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SECTION 1: DOLLIES
“The Dark Passage” Dolly
A very simple to make dolly. After all these years (I made my first one in the late ‘80’s), it’s still my favorite. You can make different sized decks. I use my 12” square dolly quite a lot. As you can see in the photo above, we're doing a dolly shot in the back seat of a car!
“The Killers” Dolly
A big traditional track dolly that can easily carry a camera operator and assistant.
The “Gun Crazy” Camera Pedestal
A great way to use your dolly without a tripod. You can even get the camera as low as a few inches above the dolly deck. (The photo shows a 12" extention, but you can go as high as you need to as well!)
The “Naked Kiss” Up-Side Down Dolly Camera Mount
Yeah, you heard me; up-side down. Ever try to lay dolly track over a big rock bed or somebody’s garden? Here’s the solution!
The Dark Corner PVC Dolly Track
PVC and Other Materials: Very easy to make dolly track!
(Using PVC is great because it's dirt cheap and you can connect it together without any dolly bumps.)
The "Cry Vengeance" Dolly Rail Padding
A really great way to support PVC dolly track on level surfaces.
The "Thieves’ Highway" Angle Dolly Track
Thanks to my wheel design you have a lot of options for dolly track. Here’s just one more.
The "Glass Key" Pro Dolly Track
Time consuming to make, but in the end you’ll have pro style aluminum dolly track.
How to lay out and level dolly track
Don’t skip this. There are things you need to know! Not only how to lay out track, but how to use your dolly like a pro.
Trouble Shooting Dolly Problems
Even the most high-end dollies have their problems. Here are the solutions.
Section 2: Hand Held Rigs
Hand-held rigs are pretty much what it sounds like; any rig that is held or attached to the camera operator’s body. Probably the most famous is the Steadicam™. Many manufacturers over the years have done their version of this great rig, both in a vest style full Steadicam™ rig and a version for smaller cameras that is literally hand-held. The Shock Corridor Stabilizer falls into this category. It has certainly been the favorite of filmmakers buying this particular book over the years!
You will also find a rig that holds your camera inches off the ground for cool traveling shots called The Sweet Smell Of Success Pooper-Scooper Cam. The City Streets Circle Rig was designed by filmmaker Mike Figgis for his film Timecode and is available commercially under the name FigRig™. My version is much the same, and is really easy to build yourself. And finally, a shoulder mount that is custom designed for your shoulder.
The Shock Corridor Stabilizer
Smooth shots without a dolly!
The Sweet Smell of Success Pooper-Scooper Cam
For smooth shots inches off the ground.
The City Streets Circle Rig
For smooth hand-held shots that even an actor can do.
The Storm Fear Shoulder Mount
I like this shoulder mount better than any commercial one I’ve ever used.
Section 3: Cranes
Cranes are like dollies: everybody wants one. Well, here are three. The Killer’s Kiss Crane is a short jib I use more than any other in this book (yes, I do use the equipment in these pages for my own films just incase you were wondering).
In earlier editions of this book, I used only one type of mount to attach the crane (or more accurately, a jib) to a tripod. On the last crane in this section I’ve added a different type of mount. It’s much more difficult and expensive to make, but if you live outside America, you may not have a choice. Both mounts work great, but the mount for the Double Indemnity Crane looks more “pro” if that’s a concern for you (as for me, I couldn’t care less what a rig looks like as long as it works).
I would really encourage you to make the tripod later in this book for your crane. It’s really nice to have a tripod devoted to a crane even if you already have a tripod. Cranes take a little time to set up and break down, so you won’t be wasting a lot of time on a shoot to change from a crane shot to a tripod shot if you have two tripods.
I get asked a lot if the camera can pan and tilt on these cranes. Yes and no. I typically operate The Killer’s Kiss from the camera end with the camera mounted on a fluid head. So you’d be physically moving the camera as you would if it were on a tripod. The Big Combo has a static mount and a tilt mount as does the Double Indemnity. It’s very difficult to build a system that allows you to pan and tilt the camera remotely, but there are a few companies that make motorized pan and tilt heads that you can put on these cranes (very expensive!).
In Chapter 18, you’ll find helpful hints on working with a crane. This applies to all of the cranes in this book, so read it!
The Killer’s Kiss Crane
The one is very easy to make. I think if you can open a jar of peanut butter, you can build this crane. You don’t even have to drill into metal for this one! Tons of film schools all around the world have built this one.
The Big Combo Crane
This is a much longer crane that has a static mount and a tilt mount. It’s more difficult to build than the Killer’s Kiss, but is still quite easy.
The Double Indemnity Crane
This uses a different type of mounting system. But if you live in say, the United Kingdom or Australia, you won’t have a choice! Don’t worry, it is still a pretty easy crane to build and breaks down into smaller bits for easy hauling.
Working With A Crane
Important stuff here like safety and attaching a monitor.
The "T-Men" Crane Counterweight Hauler
A quick and easy way to make a rig to haul all those weights around.
Section 4: Filmmaking Tools You Just Gotta Have
The "They Drive By Night" Car Mount
Commercially available car mounts fall into two categories: cheap and flimsy or really expensive. Here’s one that’s neither! You can also use it on interior car shots as well as exterior!
The Third Man Tripod
Tripods that have the word cinema attached to them are freakishly expensive. I’ll show you how to strengthen a cheap surveyor’s tripod to hold even the largest crane in this book.
The Guilty Bystander Fluid Head Mount for the Third Man Tripod
This is a really easy way to mount a fluid head on a surveyor’s tripod.
The Steel Trap Spreader
Most all cinema tripods need a spreader. Commercial spreaders run from about $80 to $800. This one will cost you about $25, and you’ll need it if you’re using a surveyor’s tripod. As you can see from the photo, it folds up for easy hauling.
The The Harder They Fall Sandbag
Sandbags are one of the most necessary pieces of film equipment that you simply must have. Here’s how to make your own professional sandbag.
The The Harder They Fall Sandbag, Jr.
If you don’t care how a sandbag looks (I sure don’t), this one is super easy to make!
Painting your rigs
Want a black crane? Here’s a little help in painting troublesome aluminum.
There's also an entire chapter on how to work with metal. Don't worry, working with aluminum is easy!
And there it is. Over 400 pages of instruction on how to make and use your very own camera equipment!