February 8, 2019

A Look Behind the Iconic Dolly Crane from ‘Saturday Night Live’

SNL Dolly Crane
Saturday Night Live honors one of its most famous pieces of equipment with this feature on its iconic SNL dolly crane.

It’s hard to imagine that a piece of stage equipment could be so recognizable. Yet, for fans of Saturday Night Live over the years, there is indeed one piece of camera gear which always seems to fly out of the set when the broadcast shows its typical behind-the-scenes looks (usually as a teaser or before or after a commercial break).

Originally conceived by the original SNL director Dave Wilson, in a surprisingly heartfelt tribute, crew members of Saturday Night Live reminisce about the early days and their multi-decade careers operating the SNL dolly crane and how its served them through the decades.

The crew, which includes a driver, an operator for locking/unlocking and controlling the arm and camera op sitting atop (plus several other helpers from the looks of it), has worked together for years navigating tight spaces for quick transitions performing dolly moves, trucking shots, and high and low angle maneuvers.

It’s an interesting breakdown into both the dolly crane’s operation as well as the typical SNL workweek with blocking rehearsals and insights into some of the most famous camera moves in the show’s storied history.

Are you a fan of SNL? Check out these interviews with former SNL DP Alex Buono and an exclusive feature with SNL editor Adam Epstein here.      

Your Comment

5 Comments

Having worked in 8H and on SNL for years, I can tell you this thing of beauty is a BEAST of a crane. The cameras may have changed over the years but this iconic piece of equipment remains the same as the day Dave rolled it onto the stage.
I think they changed the tires on it once back in the late 80's.
This video brings back a ton of memories. Good to see the stage remains mainly the same as when I left back in 1998.
As Aaron Sorkin once wrote (kinda), it's the Paris Opera House of TV. If you're considering a life in television & have a chance to take the tour... go. The place OOoozes with history.

February 8, 2019 at 4:04PM, Edited February 8, 4:08PM

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Hi, I am from India. I visit this portal at least twice a day. But many a times I feel extremely bad of being deprived of some good information.
Why the heck I cannot view this video? Will this video reveal their top guarded intellectual property which might get misused by us? Or is there other reason for not being streamed freely across the glob? I don't know. Can any one enlighten me on this, please?

February 9, 2019 at 3:44AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
627

Relax, probably has something to do with licensing archive TV footage or music.

You also should keep in mind that before creating new solutions (crane in this case) no one has showed them a video like this. So in a way you're closer to their condition to create something innovative.

February 9, 2019 at 5:07PM

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Stanly
104

OK. Got it. Thanks a lot Stanly

February 10, 2019 at 3:59PM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
627

I would definitely try using a VPN. It lets you bypass your countries restrictions on video with ease and are relatively cheap for what it gives you.

February 9, 2019 at 10:26PM

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I found a Facebook link that i can watch here in Australia, maybe it will work for you India.
https://www.facebook.com/snl/videos/creating-saturday-night-live-crane-c...

February 11, 2019 at 2:52AM

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BT
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