Tracking shots ?

4 replies [Last post]

Doe's anyone have any idea's on how to build a set up for doing tracking shots. I have seen the ones advertised by poeple like Hargue, but on inspecting the pictures of them closely, it looks to me that they are mearley a set of roller-skate wheels fixed to a platform and the tracks look like regular house-hold guttering from the DIY shop. Is this an accurate assumption, if so has anyone tried to make such a thing as i could proberbly buy the parts for about £20 for a set of wheels and £7 per 10" piece of guttering (a far cry from £400 plus that Hargue want). Any tips on building one would be much appriciated.

tom hardwick
Joined: Apr 8 1999

Do you want your tracking shots to be super smooth Mr. Morse? Would you like to use the long end of your zoom as you track? If so you'll see why the equipment isn't cheap and why a DIY setup will probably give you hic-ups and bumps that will show on film and destroy the scene.


Joined: May 17 1999

From what of I remember of the Hague set up, it's based on 2" waste pipe. Wheels are "toe in" so that they run on either side of the track, pointing up and out with the track at the bottom of the "V"
I assume that if you were to use an internal connector poss. made of dowelling, you might get smooth joints. You might be able to buy internal pipe fittings.
the system would need to be held together with sleepers every foot or so. I assume that this is what you pay Hague for, as a simple sleeper with quick assembly will need a clip to be made. How about a Terry clip (poss. cut down a little?) on each end of a 2' wooden sleeper?
You'd need to check levels carefully - using wedges from both sides.
a film crew will take hours to set up a pro rig. You should allow more time tpo compensate for the build quality.

As Tom says, nearly smooth 'aint smooth enough.

To get some shots showing school children racing balloon powered Lego cars, we made a mini dolly on the spur of the moment. We made a carriage using Lego railway boggies, that just fitted a Panasonic DX100. It ran at floor level on (admittedly) the smoothest floor I've seen.

Some of out students did a great tracking shot by using a long single section aluminium ladder - bends were out. from what I remember they used a normal set of wheels on top, and another set at 90 degrees on the inside of the ladder. this made a 3'x 4' skateboard on which sat a camera op and tripod.

Joined: Mar 11 2001

Not really relevent on the "track" part of tracking, but i managed to sucessfully build (do not laugh!) quite a useful tracking system from a rather long piece of nylon crab fishing wire, along which a Technical Lego cablecar (crafted by my fair hands) that carried the Videocamera ran along.

As you can imagine, capturing curves was not possible, but it was possible to capture extremely smooth side views of travelling cars etc as long as the tracking height above the ground was not important (as near the anchor point obviously the "cablecar" would be at a higher point than in the middle of the nylon line.)

Only used it twice, once following a runner in the park (tied between trees) and the other time with a car down the street (tied to lamposts!). The car was pulled along with a fishing line by a small reel that had been cannabalised and had a small motor from an old printer attached to it (speed accurate stepper motor)

I only own a tiny sony PC4, and i'm not a serious film guy, so i wouldn't think it was that usable with bigger cameras, but maybe somone can prove me wrong! Just another crazy idea i thought i'd share.

Joined: Feb 23 2001

If you are after something cheap which does the job smoothly try either nicking a supermarket trolley or using a wheel barrow (the ones with inflatable wheels are best.

You can mount the tripod to them or have a camera person inside doing the shot hand held.

Considering a G4 533 Mp with FCP but currently...Abit KT7A, Athlon 1.2Ghz (200FSB) 512Mb PC133, 5Gb Sys partition, 80Gb Maxtor, 45Gb Maxtor, SB Live 5.1, Matrox G450 Dual Head, Win 2000 SP1, Prem 6, (currently test driving a DV Storm!).

Independent Film