A new buddy of mine, David Erlichman, who's a Dolly Grip in Toronto sent along a quick enthusiastic thumbs up for the new GI track system (http://www.gitrack.com). This system uses a pvc cap to cover the rails, ensuring a great ride. I had heard about this system from someone and hadn't thought much about it again until David shot me an email saying how much he liked it. I am anxious to give it a shot if I can get ahold of some in the States. It sounds like a great concept. David's pushing "a" camera on "The Incredible Hulk". Wish him luck.
I am presently using American steel track on the movie I'm doing and it's going fine (although other Dolly Grips give me shit about it). It belongs to my Key Grip and I've been rolling on it a while so it's been well taken care of, but it's gotten to the point where it isn't as good for long lens work (especially without the skates). And of course there is the old problem of people walking on the crossties and bowing them down. Precision track gives a smoother ride overall but it does require inserting more wedges (esp. for longer lenses) because it flexes under the weight of the dolly. I pretty much stick a wedge every couple of feet when I use this stuff and it gives a beautiful ride without the skates if it's been taken care of. I somehow ended up with a batch of (brand new) Matthews steel track a few years ago on a pilot I was doing in North Carolina and I may as well have been riding on a dirt road. Every piece was bowed so that the entire run had to be laid in an arc to smooth the joints. Out goes the level. When I called the rental house to complain, their response was, "but it's brand new, it's never even been used." they then (unbelievably) asked "How heavy is your operator?" at this point I realized that they would be no help at all so I had them come and pick up the entire order and switch it out and the older track they delivered was fine. I haven't used Matthews track since so I don't know if it was just a bad batch or what but I think whoever picked it out, or recieved it at the rental house never checked it, so they just paid for a crappy batch of track. Anyway, I've been waiting for the "next big thing" in dolly track (I know, I need a hobby) and the GI Track sounds like it.
I saw this Star Track that Chapman came out with a few years ago advertised and wanted to check it out, then I never heard anything else about it. Last year when I was loading out of Chapman LA for a show, I saw why. Off to the side in the warehouse, I saw a big dusty pile of it, apparantly having laid there for a few years. I don't know if anyone ever used it or what the story was, but it really must have sucked. Anyway, I'm putting myself to sleep. All of you have a nice day off and we'll give 'em hell on Monday.