Chocolate Larry left a comment on how to manage stops and starts with an AC and operator aboard. The truth is that ACs just don't ride the dolly anymore (and rarely did even when we shot film). At the end of the day, it's just about control. You have to get a certain amount of mass moving in a controlled manner and also stop that mass. I use my knee a lot to get moving. Plant your foot and bury your knee into the kickpad (on Chapman dollies) or the end of the dolly. It's much easier to control a lot of weight with the bigger muscles of your legs than your arms alone. I use my knee a lot for the initial push off to get it rolling. Your arms are really just dampeners. Use them as an initial stop to start slowing down, but your body is really the brake. Larry also asks about getting marks quickly when already rolling. I'll very often find a reference such as a crack in a sidewalk or a car bumper or even a crosstie on the track as a quick reference mark. Other than that, you need to develop your sense of where the camera should be to make the shot work. That's where experience comes in because in the digital world we often roll on the first take. On the show I'm doing now we don't often even get rehearsals. We literally make up the shots on the fly (and this is a Marvel project). Here is where you need to learn the fundamentals of blocking, how to compose a frame, hold and "over" etc. Anyway, thanks for the comments!
Hope this helps!
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Thanks for the mention, I'll try the knee technique, looks like it will be a big help. Yeah, AC usually too busy in a love affair with the wireless and an apple box to take a ride, but once in a while...One question that's been on my mind, there's the standard JL/Chapman package but what about unique kit for the dollies? The manufacturers are fairly low frills and slow to make changes/additions, what's your go to for that special bit of gear that is needed every other shot but won't be in a catalogue? And for a custom build, I know there's Modern Studio but if you had to DIY it, other than lumber off the grip truck, where would you source for your build?
I have kept chalk, very small dive weight bags, and/or a China marker for quick marks but sometimes not even a chance for these. Another question, when would you mark from the rear axle versus the center point of camera, typically? Do you mark from another point in the dolly/camera as well?
Hey Chocolate Larry.
When I order from Chapman, I get the standard package for the Hustler 4 and then have a list of add-ons. These include the 3' reinforced camera offset, the "enterprise" low mode, a banjo seat (which is just a longer seat than the standard because I detest seat offsets, a low profile levelling head, and usually a vibration isolator. My "go to" item is always the 3' camera offset. It has holes so I can make it any length and I find it is often the handiest piece of equipment I uses and the only camera offset I really uses (except for the shortest offset which can be used as a low mode for the peewee). Any machine shop can usually make a specialty item for you. I had some custom foot pegs for the Hustler made.
As far as marking, marking the camera position is only when marking the finder or finding positions for track or dance floor. When on the dolly, I always mark the front wheel center, It's the wheel closest to camera and it's easier to just flick your eyes down and spot the mark in a move than moving your whole head down to see a rear wheel mark.Hope this helps.
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