30 Second Table Top Dolly

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Introduction: 30 Second Table Top Dolly

If you're shooting a small-scale table top video, and want a cheap 'n easy* way to track horizontal movement, this 30 second table top dolly idea is a quick and (just a little bit) dirty way to get smooth tracking shots using things you probably already have in your kitchen.

(Thanks to my co-brain behind this MacGyver fix, Mr. Jon Brown and our model Mikeasaurus)

*Camera equipment can be pretty expensive / cost prohibitive, so this offers a no cost way of getting professional results that will help you make do until you're ready to invest in some profesh equipment.

Step 1: What You Need

1. A book (or books) to raise the camera to the height needed to frame the shot.

2. A very fine powder that will act as the dolly's 'wheels'. Any of the following will work:

  • corn starch
  • powdered sugar
  • cream of tartar
  • pastry flour
  • baking soda / powder

Step 2: The How

Decide where the camera needs to be to get the shot you want.

Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of powder along the path of the shot to be tracked.

Spread it out with your hand.

Place your book(s) at the start of the shot track.

Position camera on the book(s).

NOTE: I got the smoothest results from pulling to follow the shot vs. pushing. So if possible have the action of the shot go in the direction that will allow for that. Pushing is still effective, it just takes a bit more muscle control and practice.

Step 3: ACTION!

Hit record and go!

Happy budget video making everyone. :)

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24 Comments

Thanks for the idea. Very simple and effective.

If it´s stupid and it works, it´s not stupid. Great job mate :)

This won't do with a longer lens though. :/

Why not prop the lens with a wine cork or similar object?

Well, it's actually a valid point and I've done that earlier, guess I was too fixated on this tiny issue and forgetting the great tip of the 'ible.

i must say, that this is a great instructable idea. i will admit that i have used, in house equipment and furniture for producing my videos. these types of ideas a re great for those anyone on a budget; loking for equipment that can be used and restored frequently. to say the least, i have used, books, storage containers, bar stools, milk crates and more. i have also used a book for a dolly, minus the white powdery substance. i was blessed to have countertops and surfaces that made the track pattern very easy. i cannot click the i made it button, so i left the comment........luv yall

That is EXTREMELY clever. I love it.

If you know someone in a Chemistry Lab try using a pinch of ion exchange resin. Most ion exchange resins are tiny uniform spheres. I have seen replaced lab equipment spontaneously roll off the bench after someone spilt some of this resin.

Def wins the Elegant and Simple fix award!

+1 for prop book choice :)