I got an email from a dolly grip who has a question about laying a long track (50') with multiple curves in the snow. (This is in Chicago, so it's on city streets I assume, not the snowy tundra). Luma beams aren't in the budget. Those of you who live and work in snowy locations (Toronto, NY) will know best how to answer this. Leave them in the comments.
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Never lay track "just on snow". Always have the best base possible. If that means shoveling down to frozen ground / sidewalks then so be it - and take the time to do it properly. Melt any ice along your path as wedges & rail will slide with any side load. Don't forget when clearing for the rail to also give yourself room on either sides of the rail. Camera assistants are notorious for trashing your hard laid track just because they slide around on snow & slush.
Thanks Azurgrip for the great answer. I thought the same thing , but only having laid track on man made snow, I knew you were the expert. In a later email, the questioner added that the actual surface under the snow was springy grass. I would add that once you clear out down to the grass, I would be sure you use pancakes under at least each joint to spread out the weight. As you're leveling, push down hard to settle the pancakes and then read the level.
d and azurgrip, you guys rock. Thanks so much for the advice. It's going to be a long cold shoot this weekend but at least I'm confident that the dolly moves will be smooth and level...
Also, if you're on ground, or grass (anything but asphalt or cement) you can pound wedges into the ground around your cribbing to help stop "shifting due to weight".
Excellent tip. Thanks.
Just as a side story. While shooting in Alaska, we dug a trench 5ft wide and 4ft deep to follow feet running across the snow. Once the track was laid, the helicopter airlifted the Fisher 10 right onto the rails...
Any story that involves a dolly and a helicopter is awesome. I wondered if there was a trick to laying track in real (4' deep) snow. I guess you still have to dig.
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