I've done posts on choosing your surface before, but some of the work I did this week gave me the idea to do a refresher post. It was going to originally involve surging, the bane of all creep moves. The choice of what surface you roll on for a creep has a huge effect on the execution of the move. The more I thought about it, I decided to go ahead and include other moves as well.
As I've stated before, and every Dolly Grip knows, creeps are the hardest, most grueling moves you can do. There's nothing quite like trying to make two feet of push-in last for two pages of dialogue. It can be mind numbing. And one thing that can make it harder is surge. Surge is the point in your beautiful, dramatic push-in where you meet an imperfection in the surface you are rolling on that causes the dolly to pick up speed or stall. It can really draw attention to itself, especially if there is a prominent foreground piece that suddenly seems to move faster or slower in the frame. Do yourself a favor, pick your surface wisely. I always try to do a creep on track. A lot of Dolly Grips use planks (usually 1x12 clear pine for example) for simple moves. I'm not a big fan of planks. In fact, I rarely use them. They just have too many imperfections that can ruin or make a creep harder. I always try to go on track when possible for a creep. It eliminates the variable of steering, and has the least imperfections of your choices, cutting out surges and stalls and allowing you to concentrate on the move and your timing. Always try to use the surface that suits each move and what you're trying to accomplish. If a lot of actors are walking through my trajectory, I'll go with floor. If the existing floor is flat and even enough, I'll go with just plastic. If it's not in the way and is just a move on a fixed plane, I'll go with track. I did make a conscious decision on my current show to go with floor in almost every case on interiors. The shots just evolve too much to get locked onto a piece of track. Foreground actors move around too much and directors always want to change the shot a couple of takes in and go tighter or wider at one point and a floor allows me to accomodate this. If the shot is a "special," though, and I know it won't change, such as a push-in on an object, or a solitary actor doing a long speech, I'll almost always go with a rail. As I've said before, one of my favorite shortcuts is to use two of my 2x8 dance floor pieces as planks for shorter moves. They have lower surge, they are easier to get in and out of sets than a 4x8, and still allow for versatility if the shot changes a little bit.
I'm now three weeks into my show and it's been exhausting, so I haven't posted as much lately, but keep checking in. Stay safe. Till next time, and in keeping with our ongoing series of pretty actresses with dollies, this comes to us by way of Wick. It's European actress Justinia Sieniawka with a Fisher 11. Thanks Wick and Justinia! Keep 'em coming!