Those of you who know my shooting style know that I love to keep the camera moving. Static, lock-down shots have their place, and I have certainly used them throughout my career, but I'm really drawn to the nice, smooth dolly shots. A good dolly shot really adds a certain level of production value to a project. In the past, when working on very low-budget shoots, I've been forced to utilize the so-called "poor man's dolly" - i.e. skateboards, wheelchairs, shopping carts, etc. They actually do the job fairly well, if you can hold the camera steady.
Recently I purchased two pieces of gear from Digital Juice - a Slyder Dolly and a 7" HD external monitor. I've used doorway dollies, but they require a little bit more time to set up. Plus they require extra crew members to operate. Slider dollies are nice because of their convenience and ease of use, and I've been interested in purchasing one. I've had some hands-on experience with the Cinevate Atlas slider dolly, but the one I used measured it at a little less than 3 ft.
Digital Juice was offering a good deal on some refurbished Slyder dollies so I jumped on the opportunity. The dolly itself is 64" and was in great condition. You would never know it was refurbished. I took it out of the box, assembled it, and mounted both my DSLR and my new external monitor on to the track.
Here are a few of my initial impressions of the Slyder Dolly and some general thoughts about purchasing and using sliders:
- The Digital Juice Slyder Dolly is extremely smooth. You can easily manage the level of resistance on the carriage to ensure that the camera movement happens at just the right pace.
- Know exactly what accessories come with your slider. Most of the sliders I've looked at just come with the track and the carriage for holding your camera. If you want leveling legs or a mount, then you will have to buy those separately. If you need to pan/tilt during a camera move, you will need to purchase a hi-hat on which you can mount a tripod head.
- Sliders are extremely flexible. Whether mounted to tripods, c-stands, or lying flat on the ground; whether running horizontal, vertical, or on an angle, sliders really offer a lot of options.
- Get a leveler. Some camera mounts will have a bubble level built in, but to ensure that your slider is perfectly straight, it's a good idea to have a leveler in your kit.