Anybody getting into video soon realises that camera movement is the key to getting more interesting shots. Often the first investment made to get that movement is in some kind of inexpensive camera slider. Sliders can be amazing, but sometimes you just need more. Especially on location, sliders aren’t always the best option, sometimes you need a track dolly.
In this video, Logan at Premium Beat shows us how we can make a simple track dolly for under $50. Of course, this price may vary depending on the cost of materials available to you, but it’s a good guide price to get you started. You can possibly even get it for less if you’re patient and look for good deals online.
The basic construction is fairly simple. A 2’x2′ (60x60cm) piece of solid thick plywood with four angle brackets attached to the underside. To each of these brackets, a pair of rollerskate wheels are attached. These create a V groove which runs on two pieces of PVC pipe.
If I were to suggest any modifications to this setup, I’d probably add some kind of rim around the top against which the tripod’s feet can press. This way, as you push the whole thing along a track, your tripod’s not going to slip across the board and ruin your shot, or fall off completely and kill your camera.
While the video shows this setup being used indoors, they can work wonderfully outdoors, too. I used to use track dollies regularly in a former life outdoors, with lengths of up to 50ft tracking people while they were walking. You’ll need much longer pieces of pipe, of course, for this kind of thing.
But this is a decent and very inexpensive setup to get you started that allows for some nice, smooth camera movements much longer than a slider can provide.