Dolly Modifications

The doorway dolly is fine when you need a narrow dolly, but it is not very stable on anything but very smooth floors. Making an expandable axle version is helpful. A 1/4" bump under a wheel close to camera will move the camera a lot more that 1/4" bump at some distance from the camera. A fixed front axle can be joined to an adjustable length speed rail frame and adjustable width rear axle. The whole rig can be broken down and stored in a smaller space. The tripod legs should be attached as close to the wheels as possible to avoid any flex in the frame of the dolly. Go-Cart wheels work well and are affordable. Small trailer wheels are available from Northern Hydraulics. (800-533-5545)

The "Rickshaw". A bicycle wheel dolly much like a hand truck with long handles out the back can carry an operator with a hand held camera or Steadicam quite well. At the end of the move the operator can step off and continue walking up stairs, through doors etc. The platform for the operator to stand on should be close to the ground. Support for the hips and back is helpful, consider Steadicam clearances. The operator should be able to lean back some to feel secure. The driver will have to help the operator frame in his moves. For example going around corners should be gradual. Starting wide and cutting the corner closely can help make a slower change of direction. Bicycle wheels with 3/8" axles are too weak to support regular wheels from one side. Larger axles and bearings are possible in many salvaged bicycle wheels. There are also available wheel chair wheels and other wheels with ready made one side mounted axles.

Front bicycle wheel forks can be welded into various wheeled rigs.

Factory made 3 wheel bikes can be modified with a step or seat for the operator. Provide some back support, but not too much because the upper body can contribute to stabilizing the camera. These can get a little unstable with a heavy operator.

Smooth acceleration, deceleration and turns will help the operator a lot. Dolly tracks are usually smoother, but take time and may show in the shot.

The well-balanced camera hand held by a comfortable operator can compensate some for bumpy terrain.

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