FORUMS: list search recent posts

Microdolly gear?

COW Forums : Cinematography

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
Jason Jenkins
Microdolly gear?
on Dec 17, 2007 at 11:57:10 pm

I'm looking into getting a jib arm and a dolly. I've never seen the Microdolly stuff in person, but it looks pretty impressive on their website. Anyone here have any experience with Microdolly gear? I need something well built but portable.


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 18, 2007 at 4:44:13 am

For ulta-lightweight and high portability, MicroDolly makes some pretty good stuff in the dolly department. I've found some of their gear to be a little bit pricey, but that's true of all well-made cine gear.

As far as jibs go though, I swear by the Losmandy Porta-Jib Traveler (http://www.porta-jib.com). It's a little on the pricey side too, in fact it is probably one of the more expensive small jibs out there.... but it's great and worth every penny. Unlike most other small variable-length jibs you never have to assemble or disassmble it or add or remove sections... it simply telescopes in and out. I've had mine for pushing 10 years and have used it with everything from little DV cameras to heavy full-size 35mm film rigs. It has paid for itself 100 times over... and I know several other Porta-Jib owners who are just as happy with theirs.



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Seth Hancock
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 19, 2007 at 6:49:02 am

Jason,

I cannot answer the question about a jib as we always rent a professional one for commercial shoots. However, I can clearly talk about some cost-effective dolly solutions.

We priced Micro Dolly and Indie Dolly. We ended up going with Indie Dolly for a couple of reasons. One, it is cheaper, thicker product and very sturdy. Second, the basic Indie Dolly system comes with a seat so the camera operator can be seated when shooting. I recall that this wasn't the case with Micro Dolly. We purchased this back in April and ended up buying 24' of straight track and one full circular dolly system.

It has been worth the investment and has been used over and over and over again. Micro Dolly is a good company and we all have our own tastes. I just would recommend you look into Indie Dolly as well. I hope this confuses the issue more... :)

Seth

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas A. Edison


Return to posts index


Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 19, 2007 at 3:40:47 pm

Thanks Seth,

I'll definitely check out the Indie Dolly! A key factor is light weight and portability since I will be traveling with a bunch of equipment.


Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 19, 2007 at 3:37:23 pm

Thanks Todd,

The Porta-Jib Traveler looks really nice! A couple of things I like about the Microdolly jib are the lighter weight and the weight cage that allows you to use just about anything to counterbalance the boom. There will be some airline travel involved in my work, so weight and portability are key factors.
Unfortunately, the Microdolly jib costs even more than the Porta-Jib!


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 19, 2007 at 4:06:45 pm

Hi Jase...

Yeah Porta-Jib makes really great stuff... lots of people swear by them.

As far as counterweight, I've never been that big a fan of the "cage" type systems that say you can "use anything" as counterweight... they are just not as secure, plus most "stuff" you find laying around doesn't have anywhere near the same mass as real weights, it's simply hard to find stuff thats heavy enough. I've seen some jibs that have water bottles as weight that you "simply fill on location"....but water actually only weighs about 8 pounds a gallon and we usually use about 35-50lbs of weight so that would be a LOT of water. When traveling (at least when far enough to require air travel), we combat it this way: we don't travel with the weights, we leave them at home. Then when we get to location, one of our first stops is something like a Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, etc. For 15 bucks you can buy more than enough plain 'old cheap barbell weights (which is basically all the Porta Jib weights are, except they say "Porta Jib" on the side). After the shoot, we just ditch them on location. We've given them away, trashed them, or left them in hotel rooms. It's a lot easier than traveling with them.

The same for dollys and track... we travel only with dolly wheels, push bar, track connectors, and flexitrack. In our location city we buy (or have our client provide) a piece of plywood and quickly throw our own dolly together. And we buy a few pieces of ABS or PVC pipe for straight track (literally two bucks a piece). Shoot's over, toss it, and head home.

As far as traveling with big equipment, I have put those days behind me as well... it's just so hard. Now if we travel we ship almost everything, at least the big and expensive stuff. We have our "traveling gear" pared down to the bare necessities, about six medium/big road cases (when shooting 35mm film there are two extra cases). We FedEx them "hold for pickup" and when we arrive in our destination city we go to the FedEx office and load 'em up. In a cross-country example, it generally costs us about $2500 to get our gear there and back (we plan shoots carefully so we can use FedEx three-day service...a lot cheaper). The gear is always waiting for me with no hassle, and I have never once had anything broken or go missing... which is something I can not say about the airlines.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index


Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 20, 2007 at 6:14:24 pm

A lot of good advice/experience in there, Todd! Thanks, I really appreciate it. I'm still leaning toward the Microdolly Jib for reasons of flexibility. While one can use standard weights on it, there is also the weight cage option. Also, if at some point one wants to go to a 9 or 12 foot boom, additional sections can be purchased and added on. The Porta-Jib traveler is limited to about 6' isn't it?


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 21, 2007 at 3:44:56 am

Yeah Jason, about six feet sounds about right.

That doesn't sound too long, but it seems sufficient for most everything we do. Plus our sticks can go up about six feet high as well, so it can fly a camera pretty high when needed. We have also adapted a 10-foot A-frame ladder so that a crane can be mounted on it, getting quite a high shot. I think I've only used that a couple of times, though.

One of our issues is that we use everything from the larger HDV cameras to 35mm film cameras... and some of them are pretty heavy, and we use really heavy tripod heads as well... so we have quite a load on the end of the jib (I've never weighed the camera/head combo but with the heaviest camera plus accessores plus the head it's probably 45lbs or so)... a jib with a six-foot tongue or so is about as long as one would want to want to support that much weight, at least on one of these lightweight jibs. Plus the fact that the Porta-Jib telescopes so it can be any length (no sections in set lengths) makes it a good choice for us.

The Porta-Jib is quite a bit more robust (although substantially less expensive) than the Microdolly jib.... but that comes with its own price: the Porta-Jib weighs three times as much as the Microdolly (30lbs vs. 10lbs). Although I almost always heartily recommend the Porta-Jib, if you use a fairly lightweight camera and you plan to do a lot of lean-and-mean run-and-gun one-man-band traveling, it is probably overkill for you and the Microdolly might be worth looking at.

Also, not to confuse the issue with another product, but Doug Underdahl at Long Valley Equipment makes a darn nice jib, at like half the price of either the Porta-Jib or the Microdolly (http://longvalleyequip.com)



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 27, 2007 at 9:03:31 pm

Hi Todd,

Microdolly claims their jib can handle a 50 lb. payload. At any rate, that's not a real factor for me since I'll be using a HVX-200. That Long Valley jib does look nice. One thing I couldn't detect from the pictures or the copy was if it has adjustable drag (which is essential, IMO).


Return to posts index


Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 27, 2007 at 9:24:58 pm

I think I'd be a bit wary of putting anything in the 50lb range on the Microdolly jib at anything other than its most compact configuration. However, since you are using a small camera I suppose that is a moot point.

I would suspect that the Long Valley jib has adjustible drag... I only base that on the fact that that is a fairly basic thing and they make pretty good equipment. You could write Doug at Long Valley and I'm sure he could answer that... he responds to emails promptly.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 5:57:48 pm

I heard back from Doug at Long Valley.

"The Seven has no drag or friction controls. In fact, it was built to have no drag or friction so that the movement is super smooth, especially the starts and stops. The inertia of the camera/fluid head and counterweight provides this. It does have a tilt lock, which is near the bowl/camera end of the jib."

Doug

I won't be getting the Seven Jib. I definitely want the option of drag.


Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 6:39:53 am

Scanning this thread, I thought input from an actual Microdolly owner might be useful.

I've had my Microdolly gear 7+ years. I totally love it.

For lightweight cameras, you can travel light and use the water bag inside the weight basket. If you plan to use a shoulder mount camera, you might consider local purchase of weights at a sporting goods store. They're probably not worth the hassle and expense of shipping. Just be sure to prep your package before travel, and carefully note the number and sizes you need.

Athletic weights are slick, they slide, and don't travel well. I like road trips and prefer to drive when I can. Microdolly's weight basket works well with shot bags, and they are less likely to slide out the back of a van or Suburban and onto your toes.

Don't think you can buy a Microdolly jib and you're good to go. If you think a high dollar carbon fiber tripod will hold up under the weight of a jib arm and counterbalance, you are very wrong. Better forget about any tripod with a 75mm or 100mm bowl, too. I don't know what I was thinking when I originally budgeted my kit, but purchase of the Microdolly tripod, rated at 300 lbs., solved my problem.

Pay attention when rigging. A jib arm by any other name is called a catapult. My wife has no experience, but just the right temperament to follow directions. With her help, the two of us can rig up the jib at maximum extension in about 15 minutes. Our 25 year old son, on the other hand, is a 'get 'er done' kind of guy -- a bull in a china closet. He was tending the jib the only time we've ever tipped the thing. He was doing too much and thinking too little. Luckily, we were outside on dirt, and the camera was not hurt.

With a full size camera and counterbalance, make a mistake and there's not much you can do but get out of the way and pray nobody gets hurt.

I've also got a Microdolly dolly. Absolutely wonderful piece of gear. The push bar should be standard equipment -- be sure to add one to your package.

Under load of a full size camera, you will need to be careful to avoid low frequency resonate motions - a slight tendency to wobble. This is a bit of a factor with the dolly, which you may be able to solve by throwing a shot bag on on the dolly at a low center of gravity. I think Microdolly offers a platform of some type that might help hold the shot bag.

My Microdolly jib is an early model. They've since added more trussing, a t-bar with lateral triangulating side cables. This may counteract resonate motions in the jib. In truth, this has never been a huge problem for me, but for super critical work using footage from any dolly or jib, you may need to perform some slight image stabilization tracking in post.

I want to add a Microdolly Power Head to my package, and probably will now that I am finally moving to HD with purchase of a Sony PMW-EX1.

You can find cheaper solutions out there. I've got a Promax Cobra Crane. It was dirt cheap and has produced some great shots on top of a cheap Bogen tripod and head. The Cobra Crane also has a cool cable controlled tilt mechanism. Not as capable as Microdolly Power Head, but standard equipment and it works! The downfall of the Cobra Crane, however, is transport. I bought one on the spur of the moment at NAB when I caught a job in Utah the same week I bought my PD-150. Promax shipped the Cobra Crane from Irvine to Vegas... and then what? I had that stupid thing lashed on top of a Chevy Suburban in a cardboard box - rain, wind, and snow during a cross-country drive from Nevada to Texas by way of Utah and Colorado. Ugh. Unwieldy as snow skis for Paul Bunyan, and all you can do to keep the awkward thing lashed to the car. It might fit inside a van or Suburban so long as you don't mind the metal running the full interior length of the vehicle, sitting between heads of driver and passenger.

Maybe newer models of the Cobra have solved these problems. And also a truly terrible build quality. All the hardware comes from the fastener isle of Home Depot, and there's not a captive screw or bolt on the rig. Just a bunch of cheap thumb screws and common nickel plated washers. Even the camera screw is loose and subject to easy loss.

The one redeeming factor is you can't see the jib in the finished footage, and the finished footage from a cheap Cobra Crane looks just as good as the footage from a Microdolly. It works, so long as you are using a consumer sized camera. But you will suffer to transport and erect the thing. And you won't look good doing it, if eye candy is important to you clients.

This couldn't contrast more from the excellence of Microdolly. Microdolly travels in style, in beautiful, compact, lightweight, matched bags embrodered "Microdolly, Hollywood." Microdolly is carefully thought out by an experienced filmmaker, every detail crafted as carefully as any film or video. Microdolly gear is engineered, not a garage project like most of low end gear you see in the production market. And Microdolly build quality is a thing of beauty. All the materials in Microdolly equipment are highest quality, as is the workmanship. Microdolly is Exhibit A when it comes to Southern California aeronautical aluminum machining trades. Even the dolly track is beautiful. It is shock corded like quality aluminum mountaineering tent poles, but the material quality and machine work is truly incomparable. We're not talking kludgy PVC pipe and skateboard dolly wheels here. Microdolly track is hard, highly polished, super strong aluminum. The sections fit together with such precision that the joints are almost undetectable -- which is good, considering all this attention to detail translates directly into smooth dolly shots.

Microdolly - highly, highly recommended!





Return to posts index


Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 8:13:59 am

I'm not knocking Microdolly one bit... they are a good company and make fine (albeit a bit pricey) equipment.

One thing that I did note in Danny's post....

[Danny Grizzle] "the two of us can rig up the jib at maximum extension in about 15 minutes."

Some people might find that to be a stumbling block. That's one thing I love about the Porta-Jibs... they are more or less completely self contained. If one were trying to do it quickly (I usually don't), a single person could take it from "in the case" to set up and balanced with maximum extention in probably around two to three minutes... with two people, maybe 90 seconds. Gotta love that.

I will second a couple of Danny's comments about cranes... YES, be careful. While they can be catapults, we are fortunate they we have never done that. However, quite a few people have bonked themselves on the head by literally just walking into the weights. You'd think they would notice this big beast, but they don't seem to.

YES, use a good (great, if you can) tripod. We use fairly high end Oconnor sticks with 150mm bowls. They are more than sufficient, but I wouldn't trust anything lighter.

Be VERY carefully if you try to move the sticks/crane while on a spider dolly. Always lead with one of the wheels...that is, one of the spider arms should be pointing in the direction of travel. Go slow, or one small bump or tiny piece of gravel can bring the whole thing down. Do NOT try to move the rig while the sticks are extended.

Keep in mind that the crane's center of gravity slightly changes as it travels through its range of motion. It will return to the point at which it was balanced. The Porta-Jibs counteract this with an option that places a portion of the weights slightly differently, and you can move it to any point and it will stay with no locks on. I'm not sure if other brands offer this feature, but they might.

Most of these higher-end cranes (Microdolly, Porta-Jib, etc.) are head and shoulders above the cheap ones that can be found, such as the Cobra. Actually my first crane ever was a "Cobra Clone." I looked at my buddy's and whipped one together in a couple of hours with maybe $150 worth of parts. It has long since been retired, although still exists (in pieces, some canabalized for other projects) hidden behind the cyc wall on our soundstage. I guess I can't bear to throw it out.

If you want to get really crazy, take a look at the full-blown crane that my internet-bud Brad Leong built for his recent film Palo Alto (I hope he won't mind me linking these)... and this was built by literally a bunch of kids.... high school and college kids with junkyard parts. They couldn't afford a remote head so they had to build it big enough to carry an operator. Pretty impressive (although if I was their father I would have worried silly).



These power lines scare me....



Now that's ambitious.


Happy craning!



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 3:51:28 pm

15 minute setup is worst case scenario. I was thinking back to a specific setup above Santa Fe, NM. Exterior, uneven ground (rough dirt road), tedious leveling, and me doing all the hoofing of tripod, jib, camera, batteries, cabling, monitor, counter balance weights, etc.

Rigging any jib with a one person crew would be challenging, or impossible. With a full size camera, the jib arm would need to sit on the ground or a sturdy table with the camera attached while counter balance weights were added. Short arm configurations might be even harder, because it would tip during rigging unless you staged every piece in a superbly choreographed way. Still I wouldn't recommend jibs on solo shoots. You can't really step away without a minder for the camera, and even then carefully as my incident with the 25 year old son proves.

The smaller the camera and the shorter the jib, then the less weight involved and all these considerations are dramatically reduced. Don't underestimate weight, though, especially with full size cameras and high rise jibs. A 20 lb. camera may require over a hundred pounds of counterbalance weight.

Microdolly allows rigging the jib in a variety of lengths, with extension or not. With the extension, the three structural tubes of the jib arm can be positioned at any length, making counterbalancing a variable. Depending on how much someone were to use the jib, all this could be a standardized, quick drill.

The Microdolly tripod does not have a bowl. Leveling the platform is absolutely critical, and a bit more tedious when done by adjusting 3 tripod legs. But the stability of the Microdolly tripod is superb, as you would expect for a purpose-built support.

I've used O'Connor 150mm bowl tripods, and there is no comparison. I agree about the stability and strength of the O'Connor, but have to add that the O'Connor sticks alone can weigh more than my entire Microdolly package. So there is a real tradeoff on weight and portability, especially on a fly away package.

I've seen pictures of Microdolly jib arms running on top of the Microdolly dolly and track. This is the kind of stuff cinematographers love to do, if for no other reason than to sneak in some kind of convoluted move that will dumbfound other cinematographers. All fine and good, but I'd be extremely cautious about running jibs on top of a track dolly, especially with full size cameras where there's a lot of weight involved. The concern varies with configuration - I'm not talking about a little jib on a wheeled spreader.

Like most techniques, less is often more. Maybe a short jib configuration is all you need, just for that subtle move. In fact, this is probably 99% of all quality jib work. We get going on and on about extremes, but these things can easily be overdone. The first year zoom lenses were in vogue, you see a lot of stop-to-stop zooming. Cheesy jib work can be seen on any local cable channel. One funeral home ad where I live has camera work swooping around like a WWI biplane dogfight.

With jibs, we think mostly about lift and drop. But I will tell you that arm swing has equal creative potential.

Back in my college days, I worked production around a lot of large cranes. These were always industry workhorses, often carrying camera, cameraman, and an assistant. Nobody ever got hurt, but nobody ever handed one of the operators a can of Coke without doing a safety check.

I agree with Todd about home built cranes (my distinction being cranes carry people where jibs carry cameras only). Crazy and kids...

I would never consider putting a human on a homebuilt crane. But if you do, make sure your insurance is bulletproof. It may be true that kids run multi-billion dollar aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. But they are backed up by a lot of savvy engineering and mature supervision. Not to mention tons of training and practice to avoid hard lessons of death and carnage from those that went before.



Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 4:41:38 pm



I heartily agree with almost everything Danny says, with one tiny exception....

[Danny Grizzle] "Rigging any jib with a one person crew would be challenging, or impossible."

Here's the only point I respectfully disagree with. I was a one-man band for quite a few years before my little company had a growth spurt. I've probably set my Porta-Jib up all by my lonesome probably a few thousand times.... even at full length and with a heavy-as-a-boat-anchor 35mm camera it probaby never took me more than four or five minutes once I had my "system" down pat. I just don't want any wanna-be jibbers to think they have to have a full crew to take advantage of them.

[Danny Grizzle] "The Microdolly tripod does not have a bowl."

The Porta-Jib doesn't either... it sits flat on top of the bowl. Fortuantely there are lots of bubble levels on the thing, but yes it's best to start with sticks that are level before mounting the jib.

[Danny Grizzle] "have to add that the O'Connor sticks alone can weigh more than my entire Microdolly package."

I don't doubt that a bit... I think Micrdolly's biggest advantage is its weight (or lack thereof). My jib weighs three times as much as the Microdolly jib, so we need the heavy sticks. Unfortunately I don't travel as lean and mean as I did in my youth. But I've found if just as you start to unload gear you pretend to have to take a phone call, the minions will unload for you (totally just kidding... well, almost).

[Danny Grizzle] "With jibs, we think mostly about lift and drop. But I will tell you that arm swing has equal creative potential."

Absolutely completely agree. I use my jib for tongue moves probably as much if not more than I do for crane moves. It can easily simulate a short (although slightly arcing) dolly shot... which is super helpful if you have to move over objects or if you are in a space too confined to lay track, etc.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index


Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 6:40:21 pm

Just a note on the Microdolly tripod.

I don't want anybody to get the idea this is a general use tripod. Not so. It does not have a bowl, and I would not consider mounting a conventional fluid head on it.

Still, it is excellent for its intended purpose. It is lightweight, high strength, and high capacity - rated at 300 lbs. Perfect support for a jib arm.

Microdolly is not the cheapest thing on the market. But I believe Microdolly represents a terrific value in superb design and precision engineering, especially considering every component is beautifully machined. There is no rough fabrication.

Some of this is too detailed to describe. Like the extraordinarily cleaver way the jib is secured to the tripod with the flick of a wrist instead of laborious bolt threading.

Check their website for a show schedule and get a demo. Or just buy one. You will be happy.



Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 6:52:13 pm

Wow! This is a great thread. It's good to know that one-man-band jibbing is possible, since I do a lot of one-man-banding myself. I'm DPing a shoot next month where, for the first time, I'll have an assistant, a grip and a grip truck! I'm hoping to pick up a jib before then. We are shooting a number of furniture showrooms and I think a jib would add a lot of production value.


Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 7:17:08 pm

I think Todd Terry and I are basically of one mind. Except maybe I am a little more old school on having an assistant. I'm also the kind of guy who won't leave a camera on a tripod while I dart into the restroom. Just the "way I was raised" in the industry, starting in film, working for a fairly demanding DP. Leaving the camera unattended was a firing offense.

BTW- I also feel the same way about having someone dedicated to audio, though I regularly run camera and audio at the same time by myself. I started out a lot more serious about audio than most video guys, and I'm about to get even more nuts. When it comes to spending money, Microdolly is a minor extravagance compared to what you can get into running double system sound with quality mics and wireless systems.



Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 7:41:59 pm

[Danny Grizzle] "Except maybe I am a little more old school on having an assistant."

Oh... I'm as old school as they come (some would say just plain old). But sometimes in some situations, one does what one has to. At least once in my more foolish and youthful days I've been on a shoot where I was not only the director, but the DP, camera op, dolly grip, crane grip, focus puller, gaffer, and mag loader all at the same time. NOT recommended! Thank god it was MOS or I would have probably been running sound, too. I love a full crew... well, as long as it is the right crew.

And yep, you're right... audio is often a sadly neglected stepchild to many video guys. We are not always as good about that as we should be... but we try. For example, I used to wire a lot of talent and we do have some really sweet Lectrosonic radio mics... but the last couple of years we have almost exclusively boom mic'd whenever possible. We usually use a Sennheiser MKH416... and even though it requires dedicating a crew member as boom op it just sounds soooo good that it is worth it... it captures voices beautifully with a nice open sound, not nearly as sterile and clinical as worn mics.

Oops, sorry we're off track here...



T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 7:47:03 pm

Okay, back to jibbing here. Do you guys usually control the jib from the back or have a head mounted on the front and control it from there?


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 7:57:42 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "Do you guys usually control the jib from the back"

I almost ALWAYS control it from the front. I will control it from the back if it is extra tongued-out and on high sticks (thus, 10-12 feet in the air) and I am not doing any panning/tilting of the camera head.

I have also been known to operate it from a midpoint.

Things might change if I had a remote head... which I don't. I don't like the "joysticky" controls of the heads that are out there now. However a buddy of mine and I are planning to develop a hydraulic remote head that should be very intuitive. Unfortunately it is third in line behind two other camera support projects we are working on... but I hope to have it sometime in '08.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 8:08:43 pm

Both. You can mount a fluid head on the Microdolly jib. That's the way I shoot interviews, because you can drift the shot a bit during the take and add some lovely 3D perspective & planes of motion, enhanced by using a 2/3" camera and large aperture for narrow depth of field.

I also do long jib work where I need to get up with, say, a carpenter high on a log home wall. In that case, you must operate from the back, in which case you better consider how you will monitor.

These variables account for differences in rigging time. The interview scenario is simple on a short jib, and sets up in minutes. The high rise jib work is much more involved at every turn, weights for counter balancing, wiring, and monitoring. Thus more time required for setup and strike. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe more, because you will need to re-evaluate lighting once you change perspective radically.

Sometimes, shooting home interiors, I prefer to work with a true CRT production monitor. Even on dolly work. Outdoors, you better include accessories like a Hoodman for your monitoring, if you care to see what you are doing.



Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 8:28:29 pm

While I have you and Todd here, I need some advice on a tripod. It seems like it might be a good idea to find one that could do double duty and support a jib as well as just a camera. Anything decent that will support a jib and an HVX-200 for around 1k?


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 8:49:05 pm

There might be tripods out there under the $1K mark that would work, but none immediately come to mind.

I personally would hit eBay... you can find surprisingly good tripod bargains there.

We have three Oconnor sticks/heads sets... one particular set cost as much as my first car... the other IDENTICAL set we snagged on eBay in unbelievable like-new condition for $800 (although I will admit that was a super steal). I've seen comparable bargains for tripods there, though... and there are usually quite a few good spider dollys up for auction as well.

I personally would only buy a tripod that could pull double duty... use for jib mounting and for reagular fluid head mounting. Look for something with a 100mm bowl or larger. I don't think I'd consider sticks that would mount the jib only. But hey, that seems to work for Danny and I will not argue one bit with something that works well for someone.




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 8:56:18 pm

Thanks Todd,

Since I need to buy a good tripod anyway, it only makes sense to find one that will work with a jib as well for standard use. Off to eBay...


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 9:04:16 pm

Cool, Jason...

For best flexibility, get a tripod and jib that have the same bowl size. I.e, if your jib has a 100mm bowl (or 120mm, or whatever), look for a tripd with a 100mm bowl. That way swapping the jib in and out is easy breezy... take the head off the sticks, mount the jib, put the same head on the jib. Some jibs come with the option of different bowl sizes (or interchangable bowls) so you can order it with the size that you need to match your tripod and head.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 2:27:16 am

A single tripod for both general use and jib support will work to a point. It depends on how you configure your jib. If you plan to buy the Microdolly extension kit, like I did, then weight becomes a factor. I shoot with carbon fiber Gitzo legs under my DSR-500. There is no way these sticks would work for a jib.

Anyplace you have seen any difference of opinion between myself and Todd in this thread can almost certainly be explained by the difference in approach you must take between working with jibs of different sizes (lengths) and cameras of different weights (prosumer like my PD-150, or shoulder mount like my DSR-500).

My advice on a dual use tripod: forget about carbon fiber. They are great, but simply not as rugged and reliable when operated outside their official load ratings. Collets will slip and joints collapse, etc.

I think you are looking for aluminum legs, or maybe even wood. Go beefy. This may be a bit difficult on the used market, because you will tend to get a matching beefy fluid head, and that should be avoided. Make sure your fluid head is exactly sized and configured for your camera. Many fluid heads have internal balancing springs. So even within a particular make and model, you need to get the exact spring installed that best suits your camera.

War story: I once had to work with an O'Connor that was configured to carry a giagantic CRT teleprompter plus camera. This tripod was huge. It weighed a ton, but performed great under load. The only problem was the teleprompter was used only about 1% of the time. 99% of the time, shooting with this thing with only an Ikegami mounted was like being in an all-day arm wrestling match.

You can suffer through a mismatch on tripod weight so long as you don't mind the compromise on weight, and the hassle of hauling the thing. But if you mismatch the head, you will compromise your work.

These negatives are probably minimized by the fact that you are proposing use with a lightweight camera. Bigger cameras mean bigger loads, and magnify all the problems.



Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 5:51:24 pm

Thanks Danny,

I had come to the same conclusion regarding carbon fiber, although there were some on B&H that were rated for over 100 lbs. I found a Cartoni for under a grand that is rated for 132 lbs.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&...

Would that be beefy enough for a portable jib and small camera?


Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 6:08:16 pm

> Would that be beefy enough for a portable jib and small camera?

I'd only be guessing. And long after you calculate all this, a situation will arise someday when somebody will need to do something you did not anticipate or plan for.

I'm just repeating what I've been told -- carbon fiber tripods are great, but be careful how you use them. They won't take abuse like aluminum or wood legs.




Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 6:24:29 pm

I wasn't very clear in my post...
The Cartoni I linked to is aluminum and its rated for 136 lbs.


Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 6:32:55 pm

Smarter guys than me don't get pinned on specific product recommendations.

I'm not all that sophisticated anyway. I don't get out much and have zero experience with Cartoni.

But it sounds like you are in the ballpark for a small camera, a lightweight jib with short to medium reach, and thus not a huge amount of counterbalance weights.


Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 7:06:36 pm

Fair enough, Danny! Thanks so much for your help.


Return to posts index

Danny Grizzle
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 29, 2007 at 11:27:24 pm

One more good piece of advice: If you are planning to buy a Microdolly jib, call Microdolly and ask Jerry Johnson what he thinks about your tripod choice. Jerry is the Founder/CEO of Microdolly, but he will take your call. Tell him I said hello. We are not old pals by any means, but he knows my name because of our shared interest in log homes.

Jerry is the kind of guy I really like because of age, experience, maturity, and temperament. He is a straight shooter. No embellishment, no marketing hype, no exaggeration. And he knows tripods. When I first told him I was using a carbon leg Gitzo, he detailed all the particulars of how the leg tips would ride on the Microdolly, and how my model of Gitzo tripod would be secured to the dolly. Jerry is the kind of guy who knows the chronology of engineering changes over the lifespan of various makes and models. Don't be surprised if he tells you to avoid a certain used tripod if it was manufactured between 1998 and 2001 because the locking collets had a reliability problem during that period. He knows his stuff. He may say, "Look for a black rolled pin in the leg pivot, not a silver pin. That's how you can tell the tripod you are buying has the problem fixed."

Whatever Jerry Johnson says, you can take to the bank. And he will not try to sell you something you don't need. Whatever value my comments have had in this thread is based on experience not 1% of Jerry Johnson. Anything he adds or takes away from my comments, don't bother to verify here because he is the master.


Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Dec 28, 2007 at 6:55:39 pm

[Danny Grizzle] "Scanning this thread, I thought input from an actual Microdolly owner might be useful."

Absolutely it's helpful! Thanks so much, Danny. Great information --and your warning about the tripod is duly noted.


Return to posts index

KC Allen
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Jan 31, 2008 at 5:06:34 am

I gotta chime in here. I went to NAB looking for a dolly/track and thought Microdolly would be the way to go. Then I found the Indie Dolly. It's priced a lot less, the track is thicker and more sturdy, you can sit a man on the dolly itself, and the people who run the place are really easy to get ahold of and work with. As far as travel, the dolly portion is a little heavy but it comes in a rolling suitcase. The track comes in 4ft sections and has their own case and are very lightweight. They can also be used in two widths...super skinny, or you can fold them out for a wide, sturdy dolly. We used ours right out of the box for an indie feature, and then have used it for some commercials and the production value is awesome. Indie Dolly also sells a tripod that can go with the system so you don't have to use your normal sticks. You can pull the camera over to the dolly and back, and the tripod is as heavy-duty as my Sachtler. I got the 100mm bowl, so it's just a quick change and we're ready to go. The tripod is meant to sit in the dolly, but it can be used elsewhere too. As far as tripods, we have the Sachtler two stage. I would always recommend a 2-stage tripod...always. For jibs we bought the JonyJib with the Turret pan/tilt head. It works okay, but I don't love it. It's not adjustable, it's bulky and it's 12ft length (9ft beyond the fulcrum) makes it tough to use indoors. It's great for outside and overheads of car lots though. He ended up using our jib for that feature more than we did the dolly, which surprised me. I was actually looking for another jib, and this forum has been helpful. Anyone wanna buy a used JonyJib?

KC Allen
Allen Film & Video

"Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows?"


Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:25:11 pm

Thanks for the input! As far as jibs go, I ended up getting the Porta-Jib Traveller and let me tell you--it is a very attractive and well built piece of equipment. I used it on a commercial shoot and the director liked it so much he got me some work on an infomercial. One of the grips on the infomercial liked it so much he asked for some biz cards. So, anyway, it's been very popular wherever it goes and it certainly adds production value. I'm still debating on the dolly issue. I'll have to take a closer look at the Indie Dolly.


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:44:56 pm

Congrats, Jason....

I bet you will be happy with it. Our Porta-Jib has been going strong for about ten years.

Except for occassionally tightening some of the little allen bolts (maybe every couple of years) and once having to retap the threaded hole that one of the telescoping handles screws into (don't worry, this was after many years of constant use) it has worked like a charm with no other maintainence required.

Happy jibbing!


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Jason Jenkins
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Feb 2, 2008 at 3:42:29 am

Thanks Todd! Do you use the Losmandy Spider Dolly? If so, do you always use flextrak or do you use PVC tubing?


Return to posts index

Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Feb 2, 2008 at 5:19:15 pm

Hi Jason...

No, I don't have a Losmandy spider dolly or flex track. I will probably get one someday, I just have just not really had the specific need for one yet.... or quite enough to justify the purchase.

There is an eBayer that also sells sort of a Canadian clone of the Losmandy dolly and flex track. His equipment looks good and the prices are much lower than Losmandy... but he kills you on shipping.

We usually use a skatewheel-type dolly (16 wheels) with PVC pipe for smaller stuff... for bigger heavy duty things we have a McAlister crab dolly (like a Fisher) that we often mount the jib on. It has studio wheels or track wheels but frankly it is usually overkill... and we normally just use it on stage as it is too heavy to easily take on location.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






Return to posts index

Cole Prine
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Oct 24, 2008 at 2:52:34 pm

Just thought I'd chime in. I just skimmed through the other posts because there were so many, so forgive me if I talk about something already covered. I work at, Newcomer Young Productions in Monroe, Louisiana, and we have the Microdolly Jib and track. I do like this gear. It does everything we need it to. The track is amazingly compact and can be set up in a matter of minutes. It rolls very smooth. The only problem we've had with it is that it squeaks on carpet. It still rolls smooth but its a little noisy. But, you can always block it up if you're shooting on carpet.

The Jib works great too. I can set it up by myself in about 15 minutes. And everything is very light weight so you don't have to be in great shape to do it. Our system will go out six feet and we have the power head. We shoot with the panasonic hvx 200 and the panasonic varicam. When shooting with the 200 you'll never have any problems. You have to be a little more careful with the Varicam. The jib supports it just fine, but it tends to be a little bouncier with the heavier camera, especially on starts and stops. And we shoot the Varicam with a big anton bauer battery on it, and audio and video cables running off of it, so there is a good bit of extra weight there. Microdolly's power head works pretty well but it's definitely no motor head. Just in case you don't know, the power head works off of a cable system and you have to actually turn the handles on the jib to make the camera turn. Which it works well, and smooth, it just can be much more difficult to get big sweeping shots. For the small subtle moves it's perfect. And be VERY CAREFUL with the cables. We have a fraid spot on ours where someone didn't set it up properly and it hasn't been the same since. Now microdolly told us at NAB one year that they were making a motor head and the put our names on the list to get one. That was about 2 years ago and we've heard nothing else about it. So, we're actually in the market right now for a motor head that will fit on our Microdolly jib.

But if you travel a lot it's great. The thing breaks down into three bags that are about 12"x36" and it is extremely light. We've really liked ours and we've put it to the test. We've shot with it everywhere from warehouses, to hillsides, on boats and even in the back of a truck. It's built well and pretty stable. if you're on a hillside or a boat, then I wouldn't leave it unattended but we've never had any trouble with it tipping over. Another thing that will help is to make sure you have it balanced perfectly. Watch the video that comes with it and learn to really balance the camera on the head. That makes a big difference in how well it performs.

So, all in all it has a few flaws, but i definitely fell we've gotten out money's worth out of it.

If you have anymore questions about it, just let me know.

Cole



Return to posts index

Alan "Cow" Jacobsen
Re: Microdolly gear?
on Nov 3, 2009 at 4:54:12 am

Hi Everybody,

I have a few points to add, as an owner of BOTH the Porta-Jib Traveller and Microdolly jibs.

One unique element of the Traveller is that it is the ONLY (I believe) jib in the world that can balance with LESS counterweight on the back, vs. the front. When its dual-telescoping rear tubes are at full extension, the jib has a counterbalance ratio of only .75:1! That means you can balance a 40lb camera/head with only 30lbs, as opposed to the typical 1.25:1 ratio that would require 50lbs- A helpful detail for travel... HOWEVER keep in mind this works only if you have the SPACE to extend the rear shafts the full 7 or so feet! Good for outdoors in the desert!

Yet the Traveller is also uniquely capable indoors: by intentionally shortening the rear tubes, and loading up on counterweight, you can really squeeze this puppy into some tight spaces! I'll put double the needed counterweight on, and shrink the backswing by half! With the rear arm at less than the radius of the tripod, you can push the tripod right into a corner and still enjoy the full swing of the arm!


Now, you can do the same "shrink trick" with the Microdolly Jib, but keep in mind there is a limited amount of space for additional weights on the rear "T" tube. (and no, you can't use the weightcage at anything less than full rear extension-it's secondary tube does not telescope any shorter- which means that in "travel-friendly" weight-cage mode, one ALWAYS needs a good 45" of rear clearance for backswing)

Finally, the Microdolly has a GREAT unique feature in its "automatic tilt compensation"! By changing the geometry of the front arms (slide the adjustable joint between the secondary arm and the tongue) the jib will automatically tilt the front tongue as the arm is boomed thru its range. This comes in very handy when you need to rear-operate a big boom up from ground level to above head height, and want to maintain the horizon in frame via a counter-tilt. No remote head needed!

So, two great jibs with unique capabilities. I wish they could be combined into a single perfect jib! Alas, they remain two unique animals, so here I am owning TWO expensive jibs! How did that happen?!?

Well, I love the stability and flexibility of the Traveller, and find I reach for it almost everytime when weight is not an issue. Alas, with recent airline baggage restrictions, I am getting killed traveling with the Traveller! So, the Microdolly pays for itself in a few dozen round-trip baggage fees. Paris next week saves about $200.

Anyway, I hope this adds some details to this very worthwhile discussion! Happy Jibbing!

Alan Jacobsen
NYC

http://www.alanjacobsenDP.com








Return to posts index

<< PREVIOUS   •   VIEW ALL   •   PRINT   •   NEXT >>
© 2017 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]