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Ray Rushing

Timelapse on dolly track

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I have a shoot coming up where the director wants to do a timelapse of a brick wall being built. It's a pretty tight shot but he wants a lot of movement (probably close to 90 degree turn). We will be shooting on a stage with a green screen and there will be a lighting change going from sunny to overcast to rain to sunny again.

Now we aren't going to be building an entire wall just a small section. The director's plan is to have the builder work for about 10 or 15 minutes while the camera dollies on a curve around him and the lighting change happens. The camera will be moving very slowly and then he is going to speed the shot up considerably to get the timelapse look. I will be experimenting with actually shooting timelapse as well and my guess is that will work better.

 

This will be a one take shot so motion control isn't absolutely necessary. We are looking at a Kessler option but I think the move it's capable of will be too short. So, has anyone done a dolly move like this for timelapse? I've done some hyperlapse stuff and it almost feels like that. However, I'm worried the speed will be too inconsistent and once sped up it will look dumb. Any help is appreciated.

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I would make a rubber wheel rig to attach to the dolly that contacts the track and then drive the dolly with a light MoCo rig like a DP NMX controller and a fast stepper motor, it can also fire the camera and it would basically be repeatable for speed and the MNX and Motor are pretty inexpensive.

 

You would need a machine shop to figure the wheel/track contact and dolly attachment and to drive the wheel with the motor but that should be fairly simple.

 

http://www.dynamicperception.com/Digital-NMX-legacy-upgrade-bundle-p/bdl-0-nmxup.htm

 

I just suggest the DP rig because it is what I have but there are other light motion controllers out there that would work too.

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Don't overly complicate this. You probably don't need each shot or sequence to match exactly, do you? Start and end points can be matched in the edit and as long as the dolly travels at the same speed you should be fine. A good dolly grip can probably do this, if you want to try some simple motorized techniques, see Ron Dexter's website.

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I don't need each shot to match. Since this will be one take that gets used we will just be looking for the best take. I'm going to propose we do shoot some cut aways too just so they have option in the edit. Thanks JD. That's how I was feeling about it but just wanted confirmation..

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Why not go to the dolly shop and shoot a test? Don't bother with lighting for the test. Play it back and see if the movement by hand pushing looks ok or jerky... You'll know pretty quickly if you need a motorized dolly.

 

I think the bigger challenge is with the lighting change if you're not using tungsten lamps and dimmers. Flags and HMI lights don't seem like a good idea for smooth changes of light. (I think you mentioned this idea in a previous post) A programable dimmer board would be awfully handy here. Of maybe even dimable LED lights...

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Why not go to the dolly shop and shoot a test? Don't bother with lighting for the test. Play it back and see if the movement by hand pushing looks ok or jerky... You'll know pretty quickly if you need a motorized dolly.

 

I think the bigger challenge is with the lighting change if you're not using tungsten lamps and dimmers. Flags and HMI lights don't seem like a good idea for smooth changes of light. (I think you mentioned this idea in a previous post) A programable dimmer board would be awfully handy here. Of maybe even dimable LED lights...

 

We do have a prep day and will shoot a test there. Unfortunately I'm in a small market and the dolly is coming with the gaffer and isn't available before hand. We have a motorized option available should the dolly not work.

 

We will be using skypanels for the overhead now and they will be on the dimmer board. Just haven't sorted out the light we will use for the sun. The rental shop only has small tungsten lights which is why I'm leaning to the HMI. Tungsten was my original thought. I don't think they have an LED that's powerful enough either but still working on that. Ideally all the lights would be LED and just run from the board.

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I would make a rubber wheel rig to attach to the dolly that contacts the track and then drive the dolly with a light MoCo rig like a DP NMX controller and a fast stepper motor, it can also fire the camera and it would basically be repeatable for speed and the MNX and Motor are pretty inexpensive.

 

You would need a machine shop to figure the wheel/track contact and dolly attachment and to drive the wheel with the motor but that should be fairly simple.

 

http://www.dynamicperception.com/Digital-NMX-legacy-upgrade-bundle-p/bdl-0-nmxup.htm

 

I just suggest the DP rig because it is what I have but there are other light motion controllers out there that would work too.

Thanks Robert. I'll check that out. I'm feeling like MoCo isn't necessary but this is still good to keep in my back pocket.

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We do have a prep day and will shoot a test there. Unfortunately I'm in a small market and the dolly is coming with the gaffer and isn't available before hand. We have a motorized option available should the dolly not work.

 

We will be using skypanels for the overhead now and they will be on the dimmer board. Just haven't sorted out the light we will use for the sun. The rental shop only has small tungsten lights which is why I'm leaning to the HMI. Tungsten was my original thought. I don't think they have an LED that's powerful enough either but still working on that. Ideally all the lights would be LED and just run from the board.

Well, for a test you don't need "the dolly", any dolly on a track will do. Even a wooden board with skateboard wheels and some plastic pipe if that's all you can find. You might even be able to shoot the test with a DSLR that you already own...

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I would very strongly suspect that you'll find the results from a human pushing the dolly to be unacceptable. You'll need to motorise this - lash up whatever you can find, it doesn't need to be beautiful, but it does need to be consistent.

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Thanks Robert. I'll check that out. I'm feeling like MoCo isn't necessary but this is still good to keep in my back pocket.

 

 

Yeah simple is good but I am in the middle of rigging my Dana Dolly for MoCo stuff so that is where my head was at ;-)

 

 

Also the rubber wheel on track thing would allow for relatively simple driving of a dolly on curved track and could be a set and go robot thing... YMMV...

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Hmmm.... Need a super smooth slow dolly? How about setting up some pulleys to lower the gear ratio. Hook up the pulleys and rope to something high, tie some sand bags to it and let em go. Repeatable speed dolly move!

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Not sure if it is overkill for your shot but I just saw this motion controlled Dana dolly rig at NAB yesterday. Only thing I dont know if it could do round or not. It was ridiculously affordable, like $3k for the whole system.

Company was called emotimo and they have a rental unit at ablecine. Maybe a possibility for your shot 🤷🏻‍♂

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