Got $50? Then You Can Build This DIY Dolly

This tutorial is for those wanting high-quality camera movement at low-budget costs.

Making a movie is an incredibly expensive venture, but indie filmmakers know that a little money can actually get you pretty far if you're clever enough. Case in point, getting professional-level tracking and dolly shots with a super cheap DIY dolly! In this tutorial, Logan Baker of PremiumBeat walks you through the process of building a $50 dolly out of plywood, PVC pipe, and wheels from a rollerskate. Check it out below:

To be honest, dollies are not incredibly difficult to engineer. I mean, most people can come up with a pretty decent design in their heads without being all that talented at crafting stuff (like me). However, it's helpful to know how other people have built theirs who have achieved some level of success with their designs. I'm speaking from experience—my first makeshift dolly was—a real joke.

Here's are the materials you're going to need:

  • 1/4" hex bolts (8)
  • 1/4" nuts (16)
  • 1/4" washers (8)
  • 2'x2' plywood board
  • L brackets (8)
  • Wheels (8)
  • 2" PVC pipe (2)

Now that you've got the lowdown on how to build your own dolly, here's a video that shows you how to use it:

What are some other ideas for DIY dollies? Let us know what you've built in the comments below!     

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4 Comments

I don't understand why such long bolts were used on the wheels. Looks to me like 1 1/2" would have been long enough and wouldn't catch on things.

March 13, 2018 at 3:29PM, Edited March 13, 3:29PM

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Robert W.
243

Verdad.

May 21, 2018 at 6:38AM

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Richard Swearinger
Freelancer
105

Both the tracking shot and DIY instructions were very good. Simple but good.

It is interesting how so many people think they have to keep the camera moving all the time. This is one of the 'latest things' so to speak. Nowadays I often find myself drawn to films where the director(s) know how to compose great static shots. "The Square" is a movie filled with good examples of such. Beautiful, static and the story unfolds through the action in the fixed frame.

I'm just saying that these days people often don't know how to NOT move the camera.

March 19, 2018 at 10:48AM

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I'm looking for a way to achive a fast 30ft track - 40ft including start up and slow down. Any thoughts? It's only one shot.
Last time I did this I paid a fortune for track, dolly, delivery and return. There must be a cheaper option. The problem with the above solution is the PVC piping which doesn't come in such long lengths.
Cheers!

April 21, 2022 at 12:42AM, Edited April 21, 12:43AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
516