Slider dollies are great for short slides, but nothing beats a nice 10ft – 20ft dolly shots, to create high-production value. Here is a good DIY Dolly project for any low-budget filmmaker.
DETAILS AND PARTS LIST:
Total cost of the DIY Dolly was about $100.
Total Dolly size = 2ft wide x 3ft long.
Angle aluminum width = 2in x 2in at 3mm thick. (2 x 3ft lengths)
Carriage bolts: 6 x 4in (to hold the angle aluminum to the board).
Carriage bolts: 16 x 2in (to bolt the wheels to the angle aluminum)
MAIN BOARD: 2 X sheets of 2ft X 3ft 7-PLY sheets screwed together with 30mm self-tapping screws.
Skateboard wheel spacers x 16
skateboard wheels x 16. Dia: 50mm (52mm are also ok)
Bearing assemblies x 32
NOTE: Angle aluminum is a lot easier to work with than angle iron – which is very heavy and hard to drill & cut. It also goes rusty and is generally not much fun to handle.
WHEEL POSITIONING TIPS:
The hole positions will be different depending on the size of your wheels and the size of your angle aluminum. Best thing is to drill a pair of test holes for 1 pair of wheels in the approximate place where you think they should go. Fit the wheels and test them to see whether they sit on the track in the desired position or whether the holes need moving closer or further away from the board. If they need adjusting, then drill the fresh holes next to the old ones but in the better position Then use what you have learned as the template for the rest of the wheels.
ALSO: Try to get the wheels positioned closer together so they sit on the upper/top portion of the track rather than middle/sides of the track. (Or in other words – go for a small/narrow “L” shape area for the track to sit in)
I found wider-spaced wheels were trying to bend the pipe and make the dolly harder & more jerky to push with weight on it.
WHERE TO GET ANGLE ALUMINUM FROM:
I keep getting asked where I got the angle aluminum from. I got it from a local metal supplier/fabricator.
You can usually find them in yellow pages. Just phone them up and ask if they have it. I used 2in x 2in at 3mm thick.
ISSUES REGARDING WOBBLE AND SHAKE:
The smallest amount of dust or dirt on the track or wheels can be exaggerated through a tall tripod. My camera is fitted with O.I.S. (image stabilization) – probably essential for this kind of work.
Also if you have a lot of shake, use a wide-angle lens – forget zooming in, it will only exaggerate the shake.
Make sure everything is spotless, the wheels are true with no lumps or chunks in them, use a shorter tripod, and stagger the track joins so that the wheels on both sides don’t hit the joins at the same time.