|Finished truck sitting on rails|
Sliders are popular because camera motions are shorthand for high production values but, because a slider unit is self-contained, setup times are significantly less than a full size camera dolly on rails. Not to be out done I wanted to be able to achieve these kind of shots sometimes but my need wasn't severe enough to justify commercial prices so I went into CAD and then to my toolbox to come up with the following.
This is less a slider than a scaled down version of a floor mounted dolly and rails system. The truck isn't captive so, unlike a slider, you can lift it off the rails. This makes it easy to transport and also allows you to create many different rails configurations for different situations that can utilize a single truck; the following tutorial offers one rail design but you can easily make longer rail systems that this truck can run on.
|Exploded design view|
- to be cheap
- to accomplish perfectly smooth camera movements silently
- to be easy to construct with the minimum of tools
- to be light and compact enough to be transported in my tiny car without having to put the roof down (I have a MX5 / Miata)
- to be strong and reliable.
Total cost of materials was $50 and consists of the following:
- PVC & Lumber (actual lumber dimensions are smaller than quoted eg. what is called 1" thick actually measures 0.75"):
- 6"x1" plank ($5)
- 2"x1" plank ($1)
- 1.5" (inside measurement) PVC pipe length ($5)
- 8 x Rollerblade wheels with bearings and spacers ($25 from Amazon)
- 4 x 5/16", 3" long screws for axles
- 4 x 5/16", 1.5" long screws for bottom guide wheels
- 8 x 5/16" washers
- 8 x 5/16" T-nuts for wheels
- 3/8" and 1/4" T-nuts for tripod head mount
- 3/8" and 1/4" screws for tripod head mount
- Box of 1.25" wood screws (for track construction)
- Wood glue
- Paint or stain for finishing
- Wood filler
- Sanding sheets
- Miter saw (miter box optional) or power saw that can accomplish same
- Drill & bits (preferably powered)
- Screw driver
- Pencil & square edge to measure and mark cuts
- Sanding pad or electrical sander that can accomplish the same.
- Hacksaw and file or Dremel
Construction of the truck:
Construction of the truck:
Construction of the rails:
Testing and finishing:
- Mount a tripod head to your truck with the headless bolt you made.
- Put a camera on the tripod head.
- Put your rails on the floor with the sleepers on the bottom
- Put the truck on the rails and check that the truck runs freely and smoothly on the rails.
- If everything works well you can take the tripod head and wheels off your truck and sand and paint it if you want. Everyone seems to like the truck better when it's painted black even though it has little real practical purpose.