Hi again, just woke up from my afternoon nap. For want of something better to do I will continue my bleary poorly formed and ultimately worthless thoughts and opinions on various aspects of , you guessed it, dolly gripping. I see a lot of questions on the web about laying track etc. Maybe some film student/ independent filmmaker will benefit from these bleary thoughts.
Let's talk surfaces. By this I mean one of three possibilities: dance floor, track, or the actual floor. It really depends on the shot/ what lens is being used. The first thing I will do in a new set is check the floor. Is it linoleum or hardwood? Concrete? Wavy? All of these enter in to what you use. The hardest dolly shot to do is, believe it or not, a slow creep. They are painful. Especially if you choose to do one on a wavy floor. The dolly will surge and slow, throwing off timing and if there are foreground objects in frame, making the shot look like crap. When in doubt, even if the floor looks even, put something down. I generally go on track when possible because even your birch plywood will have imperfections that will cause a surge. If the shot ain't a straight line, lay a floor. If it's on carpet, double lay plywood. For some reason, set decorators love to use rugs that you rarely if ever see. If the DP agrees, yank 'em. It may be a pain in the ass but your life will get much easier without rolling over, or laying surfaces over these damn things. Track is pretty self explanatory. I won't bore anyone with explanations of track laying other than: find the highest point, level up to it . If for some reason you have a bump or dip that just won't go away, I have found that the more wedges the better. Add 'em anywhere there's a space. Skateboard wheels will also take A LOT of the bumps out. Generally, if the lens is tighter than a 50 mil and I'm on more than a two or three stick run, I'll go on skates. I personally use Porta-glides made by Porta-Jib. These beauties have taken a lot of the headaches out of skates by ingeniously using wheels of different diameters interspaced on their troughs. No More Flat Spots. I've had a 250lb operator sit on the dolly in one spot for as long as 30 minutes and take right offon the first take with no flat spots. Some guys like to use planks for a quick throw down surface (and I do too sometimes) but I generally don't like them because, again, surge.
Some of my dolly brothers may come across this blog and have some tips or disagreements with some of this. Please leave them in the comment section. I'll add them.