Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The comments from the last post tipped me off that I had hit a nerve with what we call creeps. For those of you from outside dolly world, a creep is a painfully slow dolly move, usually a push in. They usually have to time out to dialogue, meaning, land on a certain word of a two page scene. The fact that they are so painfully slow means your sense of timing has to be dead-on. Any fudging will show up, especially if there's foreground in the shot that is slowly moving out of frame. This is where remembering your speed and repeating it is crucial. Azurgrip mentioned an 8 minute scene with an 8 inch creep. This, my friends, is the definition of suck. Creeps are agonizing. Every sense is fully engaged and your concentration is narrowed down to a fine point, usually on some smudge or mark on a wheel that you watch as it endlessly rotates. Creeps hurt. Once you've memorized every inch of your path and know exactly where each surge or stall in the surface is, you have to compensate with an equal amount of pressure to keep a steady pace. On top of this, you have to land on the "first syllable of the word 'murder'" or some comparable mark after a page of dialogue. I dread creeps more than any other shot. Give me a 5 point 4 boom dance floor move any day, just keep your creeps. I usually, if they're short enough, try to do them sitting down, closer to the wheels. I rub a finger against a wheel to give some resisitance which I can increase or decrease if there is an irregularity on the surface. Try to avoid doing them on wood. Do 'em on track if you can. Wood has too many variables which can cause stalls or surges and this is a headache you don't need on top of trying to time it out. A slight dent on a plank that you wouldn't even notice in a regular move becomes like that crater in Arizona that you see from airplanes sometimes as you try to keep a steady pace. The sweat is in your eyes. Your knees hurt, your back hurts, and it just goes on endlessly. The worst is on the 4th take when an actor drops a line or flubs. Then you just want to take them out with a c-stand arm. I did a movie a couple of years ago with a lateral over the shoulder creep crossing the line behind an actor's head and had to block the facing actor between a certain line and emerge on another. Then reverse on the turnaround and repeat it. I needed thorazine by the time we moved on. Sometimes, as I've mentioned before, I'll lay the track on a slight slope and let the dolly do the work with me providing only resistance, but this can get you into trouble.
That's my view of creeps, what're yours?


Azurgrip said...

Any creep like that I always make sure to level to "sea" level. I want to be able to do everything and not have to worry about outside factors - ie gravity.

I agree not to be on boards.

I hate behind the head reveals and for some reason I never feel I get them right. Maybe it's just me...

Anonymous said...

I love the slow creeps, too. Definitely a challenge. Agree that track is always the best platform mostly because you don't have to worry about steering. You can concentrate solely on how much your back hurts at that point. And truly the best part is when the actor drops a chunk of dialogue and they blame the timing on you. Especially when you're the only one in the room that noticed that the actor missed a part.

Anonymous said...

I think these are pretty shots but I definitely agree with you about wood flooring and creeps. I've had situations where the slightest raise in the floor would give me extra resistance. In these instances I'll give the dolly a wee bit more power while ever so slightly pulling at the same time to keep the timing. Yes track is much easier. When I have creeping shots I tend to play a song in my head that goes with the shot. Kind of like background music for the dialogue. Than I mentally line up the actions, where I am in the song and a visual reference on the track. This might not work for everyone but it's helped me. =)

Anonymous said...

Hey Alex

I totally am with you about putting music to the move.

I often throw a 1-2-3-4 to a slow move to get the right timing.

I have noticed that many dolly grips are also musicians.

It makes total sence.