Tuesday, November 27, 2007
A Firsthand Review of GI Track from Azurgrip
GI track is the brain child of a couple of inventive guys in Vancouver - Dillard Brinson and Gil Forrester - a Key and Dolly grip team and veterans in the B.C. area (www.gitrack.com).Taking the I Beam profile of Precision rail and marrying it with the low profile of FilmAir's track and adding PVC capping they've created a incredibly stable platform for any dolly or crane. The extruded design allows for cribbing to placed on the inside of the rails avoiding unwanted wedge kick out by assistants who can't pick up their feet. This allows the user to use less cribbing - at the joints and at the middle points. The only downside to the whole system is weight. If you've been spoiled on FilmAir for years, you'll cringe at the weight of each piece and have to listen to all the complaining from your grip brothers and sisters. I feel that it's the price to pay for such ease of use. Less you worry about the bumps on the rail and being able to concentrate on the shot the better.The PVC capping allows you to offset the track joints. However, with use, the caps will tend to separate (depending on how much weight and how fast the move is) so using Cardellinni clamps at both ends to hold the cap in place works wonders. I must say that even without the clamps I've be able to get away with a gap up to 3/8" (all of course depending on the lens size been used).Another beauty of this track is that everything is replaceable. A cap gets scratched in the truck - pop a new one on. A latch is bent out of shape and can't be used - one bolt and it's replaced (provided you have replacement parts). Even the end cones are replaceable. The dolly grip can tighten any parts that need to be (unlike for example FilmAir, where the piece of track had to be sent back to the rental house / manufacturer just to replace a latch).I've just had the pleasure of being the first grip to use this wonderful track system in my home town. Now, if I can only convince my local rental house to carry it!
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I've heard the "it's too heavy" cry for years about other track (the black I-beam track) and I'm the same way. It's a small price to pay for a guaranteed good ride and since when are grips afraid of a little weight? Sissies
From what I have heard, just be glad you're not pushing one o' them old time Fearless dollies. Now THAT was a dolly (vbg)
I have been using GI track at every opportunity I have. I have never been let down by the track and find that it is robust, easy to level, easy to maintain, and most importantly; a smooth ride with a long lens on.
The only drawback is the weight; which I have no problem with, but a producer friend wasn't going to let me have it on show that involved airlifting an entire crew and our gear on a 737(we packed a camera crane so weight trimming became a priorty,I could relate to the producers mind set)I agreed to filmair track. The best part of the story is that the airport handlers succeeded in bending 3 pieces of the filmair track unloading the plane! This would be very unlikely to happen to GI Track.
As far as I am concerned, it is a solid two thumbs up for GI Track, and would recommend it without hesitation.
The GI track is not cheap, but it is very robust. Also the inventors are both working grips, they respond quickly to any complaints or suggestions, and as I watched the development of this track over the years I saw them make many improvements:the current version is fully realized and works like a dream. The weight issue: you probably won't be carrying two of these on your shoulders, and at the end of a long day it can be tiring, but I would rather carry and use GI Track and be assured of steady dolly shots and the ability to span gaps in the ground without building it up with apple boxes, than use lesser track. As Randy said, the only time GI's weight is an issue may be with air travel. It is so rigid, however, once you use it you will see its benefits. It is also very good in snow and over soft ground.
Thanks for the feedback, guys. I hear that Paramount in LA has 100' or so of GI track. I don't know if this is true or not though.
If Paramount LA doesn't have it in their inventory, they can ship it in from their Vancouver office since that's all they carry
Hi Randy and Michael......
I'll second your comments 100%,
Hi Randy and Michael,
I'll second your comments 100%,
The track's not THAT heavy, I'd like to see comparative specs, but just think, you'll have to carry that much less cribbing , which more than makes up for it. It's black to avoid reflection issues, the struts are bolted from 2 directions to avoid twisting and torque that you get with filmair and, ugh, mathews steel track. I crib at every 4 feet, and you can pick up two pieces attached and there's virtually no flex. The bottom is flat so you can slide it easily on most floors and carpets when your wishy washy operator wants you to move it over 3 feet. It's way cheaper to replace the caps if they get damaged as opposed to having to buy a whole new peice of track. All in all superior in every way.
Just one thing. I HATE seeing guys screw the track down onto 4x4 posts. Absolutely redundant and counter productive. Please stop this and you KNOW who you are. Your breakin my bawls here!
Cheers to my brothers in T.O. and Van. I'm off to the middle east this summer, hey Gil, can I rep your track in Jordan?
Pam cooking spray. Now I'll have to try that one. A lot of guys use 4x4 posts which aren't always straight so I understand the aversion to screwing track to them. Personally, I prefer louma beams, and there's rarely a reason to screw the track down to them. Thanks for the comments. Have fun on your trip!
We have been using GI Track since it's inception. Always straight, always defect free and you use way less cribbing levelling it, As for the "it's too heavy" comments, Were' grips right...?
I personally don't have have any aversion to screwing track down to 4x4, if you know what your doing it shouldn't be an issue.
Absolutely. Everyone's got their own system that works for them. I've used 4x4s before on occasion and it's a matter of knowing how far and where to screw (as it were).
GI Track is the best track I have ever used. Any "extra" weight is easily offset by the fact that levelling is quicker, easier, and uses less cribbing. If I had my way, I'd never use anything else.
I've got to try this track when I get some time. So far, only positive reviews.
Just out of curiousity, does Holt / Petersen the original manufacturers of Precision Track still exist?
I'm not sure what part of Filmair dolly track you are unable to remove or repair. I have owned this type of track since 1998. With an allen wrench, some socket wrenches and a screwdriver each piece can quite easily be replaced. A drill and rivet gun would be all that is required to replace the stainless end caps. I have in fact over the years completely disassembled every piece I own and made modifications to accommodate certain dollies and accessories.
Having to slap PVC on top of "precision" track seems like an unnecessary step and a cheesy fix.
There is no perfect track out there, at least no track that more than a few dolly grips would agree to be perfect. If it's on rental it's pretty good track.
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