June 5, 2012

Make This DIY Tripod Dolly for $20 or Less

Have you been looking for a low-cost, easy to set up DIY dolly? Then you should definitely check out the tripod dolly that Justin Leyba of ImagineNow Entertainment whipped up using nothing more than a few furniture sliders. The results look rather impressive:

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4yVkaV1_SM

Some of the shots are a bit shaky, but for the most part they are smooth and dynamic. I could see this being especially useful in cramped interiors where a dolly track might not be feasible to set up. Conversely, unless you're shooting MOS or stick felt sliders to your tripod feet, there is probably going to be a significant amount of noise when the plastic sliders are scraping over a hardwood or tile floor, and if you're on concrete, you're pretty much going to need to have a roll of carpet handy. So it's not a perfect solution; there are definitely situations where it would be better to use dolly wheels/track of some sort, but it looks like a nice cheap and effective option to have in your kit.

Leyba used EZ Sliders from Bed, Bath & Beyond for his dolly, but aside from the little covers that come with them to protect hardwood floors, they don't seem to differ much from cheaper alternatives that you could get from Amazon or your local hardware store.

Have any of you used this approach for dolly shots before? If so, what was your experience?

Via [CheesyCam]

Your Comment


I have always cut holes in tennis balls and stuck them on the bottom of my tripod legs for dolly shots on hard wood floors.

June 5, 2012 at 2:40PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Very cool idea.

June 5, 2012 at 2:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I made one using cheap casters, plywood, a 10lb weight, and ran it across two 10ft pvc lines with 90* joints making it a long rectangle. I was able to get a few good shots out of it for this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOJjlFaOta8 (title shot at 0:07 and three Porche shots from 0:57-1:15).

It didn't take too long to setup and the PVC rails allowed for smooth movement despite the surface. It was kind of hard to keep the casters on the PVC since they were straddling it, and the PVC statically attracted debris, which added little bumps...not to mention my PVC handle creaked, causing more jitters. Also, with the casters straddling the PVC, it was hard to consistent smooth movements. With all that, I usually had to make 5-10 passes and then still ended up stabilizing in post. I may modify it using tennis balls or something to slide along the PVC since the main problem I had was with the casters themselves.

Most of the other shots in that video were using a $30 PVC fig rig. I've since made a $20 PVC shoulder mount as well (fig rig was too light IMO). Both of those have given me much better luck, but each thing has its place for sure!


June 5, 2012 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


You should have gotten one of these instead of spending $20 for a shoulder rig:

Cowboystudio shoulder support pad:

I've got on en route to me as we speaek. I've tried it out and IMO, one of the best supports as it completely frees one hand up for focusing/zooming. Nice and solid too.

I've got a DIY fig rig and another shoulder rig that are good enought for stable shots, but again hard and awkward to get that one hand free for focusing/zooming. However, the DIY rig has lots of little holes for mounting extrea stuff.

June 12, 2012 at 10:53PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I've been testing this same sort of idea out for a while, but haven't used it in a real short film yet. The sliders I was using were a little different, though, but I found that it works best when the tripod was as short as possible and you put a bit of weight on it.

June 5, 2012 at 4:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


this is one of the bad diy jobs ... the motion feels very week and shaky .. there are far better diy jobs online

June 6, 2012 at 3:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Really, Ali? It's a BAD DIY job? It has no value? I believe Justin clearly admits that in some instances it's a little shaky, but overall it works quite well, ESPECIALLY for the price. As a film watcher, I would have absolutely no problem at all in seeing footage shot in this manner, even in a major motion picture. There's something quite organic about it, without the distracting factors of hand-held/shaky cam. And perhaps, next time when you have such criticisms, and claim there are "far better diy jobs online" you wouldn't mind posting references to such.

June 8, 2012 at 9:56AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Yeah a lot of DIY projects are hit or miss. I'm gonna have to say miss on this one. Looking back at my last shoot, I used a slider and every slider shot we did there was definitely no option to use these 'ez sliders' because there were no hardwood floors or firm carpet around...be aware that most DIY projects are very limited, take those cineskates for example. i hate those things glad i didn't get sucked into it.
nonetheless like all DIY its very cheap...in the video the takes were way too long and shortening them up in a proper edit would help with cutting out the shakiness.

June 6, 2012 at 6:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think it's a great idea and for young film makers this would be a great option. I can't wait to try it on hardwood with a good tripod. I have used Rig Wheels many times with PVC pipe. They work great.I can't wait to test out some sliders. I am sure adding weight would help. I filled my PVC pipes with sand and added rubber caps on the ends. That helped me get better results from the Rig Wheels. I am sure with some tweaks you could get pretty good results from furniture sliders as well.

June 6, 2012 at 11:11PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Too bad you can't use 'em on dirt, grass, etc. outside.

June 7, 2012 at 10:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


That last shot was pretty good. I'm usually against people making all kinds of ridiculous DIY rigs (They spend more effort creating gear instead of just buying renting, shooting something else...)

...but something so quick and easy like this...it works (in certain environments).

Whatever it takes to get the shot.

June 12, 2012 at 4:00PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura

you can get this shot done where the floor is flat and smooth. I was expected a real stuff.

April 8, 2014 at 6:51PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Nyunt Shwe