February 19, 2013

SnapTrack Cinerails: a Light, Portable, Easy-To-Assemble Curved Dolly Track System on Kickstarter

Danny Dodge is a cameraman and cinematographer who has devised what may be the most light-weight and portable curved dolly track system you've ever seen. Searching for a way to build the ultimate portable dolly setup, Dodge stumbled upon the fact that a draw string could be used to arch PVC track to any degree he wished. The SnapTrack Cinerails rig was the result. Combining a simple draw string device with seven Cinerails gives you up to eight feet of curvable dolly track that seems primed for low-impact DSLR shooting, weighs under ten pounds, and breaks down/sets up in about a minute. Check out the SnapTrack Cinerails below, and some pre-ordering info if you're interested.

The SnapTrack Cinerails Kickstarter project has already met its $5K goal, with another couple of days remaining for pledges. Here's Danny and the Cinerails themselves from the Kickstarter:

The system is simple enough, though you'd need to purchase 8+ foot 3/4" PVC pipes upon arrival at every shooting destination if you're traveling, which means it's not a full all-in-one package. If need be, you may be able to build upon Danny's design here and come up with a collapsible track system to complement the Cinerails for all-inclusive portability. A lot of good for DIY shooting can be done with telescoping PVC pipe (just ask The Frugal Filmmaker), so this is surely possible if Danny's solution doesn't work for you. Conceivably you could even try to recreate the whole thing yourself, but given Danny's use of a custom bit size to bore out the 3/4" PVC track snap-in feature, it may be difficult to get it to work as well as the Cinerails.

As for the Cinerails themselves, the shots they can get seem impressively smooth. Danny's posted some example work that has aired already, and he utilized the Cinerails to accomplish the dolly moves (the dolly system was used to shoot the Lexus driving by):

$300 gets you the full SnapTrack Cinerails system, which is enough Cinerails (7) for an eight foot pipe track curve supporting up to 20 pounds, dolly, and draw string. $375+ gets you a triple set, meaning you build up to twenty-four feet in track length, or over-brace a shorter length to support greater dolly weight. This may be a better option if you're a very mobile shooter but you use a heavier camera or rig. Alternatively, $60 gets you a set of 7 Cinerails and draw string only (no dolly), so you have the option of building or beefing up to whatever extent you may need. Danny's promising pre-purchase backers a better price than everyone else will end up having to pay, so if this system seems to meet your needs, head on over to Kickstarter.

What do you guys think, does this system sell itself for you? Is this something you've been waiting for? How do you see yourself benefitting from a rig this transportable and light-weight?

Link: SnapTrack Cinerails & Camera Dolly System -- Kickstarter

Your Comment

22 Comments

Wow, this is really cool.

Over all the years I have been looking at DIY dolly I have been looking at I have never thought of having little connectors along the track. The only down side is the fact that it's only as portable as the size of your car (the actual track)

I'm not sure if I want to buy this or just make my own. He seems to love the whole 'special snap track' design but with a bit of trial and error I think you could nail it rather easily...

February 20, 2013 at 12:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tyler

Thanks for the link, Dave. This one made me take out my wallet.

I've had my eye on the Kessler K-Flex system for a while, but have never been in a position to afford it, as is some sort of system where the operator rides on a platform. Whenever I've wanted to do a curved dolly move, I've resorted to something like $100 eBay "universal dollies", but I think any sort of trackless crab dolly is overly sensitive to bumps, even the more expensive ones, like the Digital Juice orbit dolly.

Cinerails seem to have a lot going for them -- cheap solution to the problem of curved dolly moves, fast to assemble, and very portable.

Best of luck to Danny on his project.

February 20, 2013 at 1:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gah. Typos in the comment above. Wish one could edit after clicking "Submit". But anyway...

February 20, 2013 at 1:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Amen.

February 20, 2013 at 12:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tyler

Very clever system he's invented there. If I was in the US I'd be picking this up. I agree with Paper_bag there - not a fan of trackless dollys.

February 20, 2013 at 4:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Haha, I bulit myself something similar a couple of years ago! :)

February 20, 2013 at 6:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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James J.

Very clever. I'll try to build something similar, maybe without the groove on the middle pipes but with other joint system.

February 20, 2013 at 7:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghoxfr

3:02 Guy takes out trash

February 20, 2013 at 8:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe

Danny's saving grace in this build is the "custom bit" used to create his assembly. Once someone buys this and figures out what the "custom" aspect is of the bit used, chances are the only thing separating him from his profits is the public's access to similar materials.

This will be good for a time, and I appreciate his ingenuity. I'd pay for the rig; I don't know how many others will...or for how long.

February 20, 2013 at 9:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIYFilmSchool.net

I appreciate the simplicity of it all, but $300 seems a bit steep. Last month I received my Rhino Slider which I backed for $325.

February 20, 2013 at 9:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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considering that the 300 includes a dolly and the wheels (optimised for the track), I'd say it's a fair price.

February 20, 2013 at 9:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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@seenematic,

Not sure there's anything "optimized" in a 90 degree angle piece of metal. Small amount of trial and error will give you the correct drilling points on that piece of metal and you could quickly drill hundreds of them.

February 20, 2013 at 10:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The Dolly is nothing special. I got one from Rockbrook Camera for $79. The special "bit" is nothing special at all, it's just understanding how to use your tools to make consistent cuts or drill holes over and over again. Ideally, you'll be bringing in a 3/4'' bit sideways...if you know what you're doing you could rig something up to make consistent cuts every time. You're not going to be doing this with a hand held drill. You'll either be using a drill press or a router. Then you toss on the 90 degree angle metal piece onto a flat piece to make that triangle, throw on some wheels, and you're good to go. Granted, things need to be precise, and it will take time. If you don't have a shop where you can build something like this, then $300 isn't really a bad deal. But if you already have all the tools needed, this could be made fairly cheap.

February 20, 2013 at 10:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Did he mention how much weight this will bear? I hate renting track dolly systems on the road when that's all I need. Could this handle a tricked out C100 with matte box?

February 20, 2013 at 11:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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claude riban

The system will hold 20 lbs of tripod and camera on top of the dolly. That's easily a DSLR and matt box. If you purchase another set of 7 Cinerails to add support to the track, it will hold a total weight of 70 lbs. Your tricked out C100 would be no problem at all.

February 20, 2013 at 10:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thanks Danny for answering my question. If you bought 20' pvc tubes and more cinerails, could you create a 20' straight line track? now the airline media rates are such it often cheaper for me to rent tracks and dollys on the road. This would be a fitting solution.

February 21, 2013 at 10:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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claude riban

I built something similar, but more time consuming to assemble, in college. Cost me about the same total when you factor in the dolly, so seems like a pretty sweet deal, since he does all the work, and it's pretty elegant solutions with the variable curve and snapping features.

February 20, 2013 at 1:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I like the price. Great design here. I want one.

February 20, 2013 at 9:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Only 2 hours to go and the project will be fully funded. I've already put it into production. If anyone still wants to get a system at Kickstarter prices you'd better hurry. Only 2 hours left.

February 22, 2013 at 2:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nothing on the web about this since end of February. Any backers out there get theirs yet? How do you like it?

April 29, 2013 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Paul

Claude,
Sorry I didn't see your reply till now. Yes, we're coming out with a track connecter that links two 3/4 inch pvc pipes together. It will be out in the next month on our website: http://www.cinerails.com
Danny

February 26, 2014 at 8:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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For everyone who's been trying to buy one of these the website is http://www.cinerails.com

February 26, 2014 at 8:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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