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6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots

Johnathan Paul

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to capture eye-catching dolly shots. Here are a few pro and DIY options that won’t bust your budget.

Top image: dolly shot from The Alamo via Touchstone Pictures

When storyboarding your next film or video project, you may decide that one particular scene would benefit greatly from a dolly shot. Of course, you may not have the budget to purchase a dolly platform and track.

Luckily, there are a variety of solutions out there to cheaply capture a great dolly shot. From affordable professional gear to DIY dolly systems, let’s look at six of them.

Professional Options

1. Camera Sliders

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: Glidecam VistatrackImage via Glidecam

Camera sliders are perfect for capturing short dolly shots. I’ve personally used the Glidecam VistaTrack slider on two film productions and it captured exactly what was needed. While it wasn’t the most affordable of all the options below, it was cost effective when compared to purchasing an actual dolly system, which can easily run $1500-$2000.

2. Table Dolly

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: Table Dolly

Image via Fancier Studio

If you need to capture a short dolly shot and you’re using a DSLR, then look into a small table top dolly. These lightweight solutions are great in a pinch and many can support quite a bit of weight, which can help if you’re using one of the smaller cinema cameras by Blackmagic Design or RED. By using this solution, you can capture effective dolly shots on multiple small surfaces. And because of its ease of use, you can capture multiple angles in a matter of minutes, as there’s no real set up time between shots.

3. Tripod Dolly

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: Tripod Dolly

If you can’t afford a slider and you don’t have a smooth surface to utilize a table top dolly, then the tripod dolly shot is going to be your best option. This simple-to-use tripod add-on will need a solid smooth surface to really get you the results you’re looking for. However, if that’s not possible, there are fairly inexpensive track options for this type of dolly.


DIY Options

4. DIY Dolly Track ($10-$20)

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: DIY Dolly Track

DIY projects can be incredibly fun and can save you a lot of hard-earned cash. So, let’s kick things off by checking out how to make a dolly track from items you can find at the local hardware store. For this tutorial, the SGNL group from Sony shows us how to use PVC Pipe, in-line skate wheels, and a few nuts and bolts to build a dolly system that your camera and tripod can rest on.

5. DIY Camera Slider ($10)

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: DIY Camera Slider

If you want something smaller that can easily fit into your car (or even into a small bag), then you can build an inexpensive slider with a few items from the hardware store. In this video from Film Riot, Ryan Connolly and crew show us how to do just that for a whopping $10.

6. DIY Table Top Dolly ($20-$30)

6 Affordable Ways to Capture Great Dolly Shots: DIY Table Top Dolly

If you’re more interested in using a table top dolly, well, that’s no problem. In this next video tutorial, TheAussieInLA shows us how to use a metal plate and skateboard trucks and wheels to create a heavy-duty table top dolly.

Got any DIY dolly tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below.