Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gadgetwise Blog: Skates, Squids and Dollies That Make Striking Video

Timelapse using the CineMoco System, a motorized dolly on a track.

The products from Cinetics might not be the first accessories a budding videographer should buy, but if you want to create some advanced dolly effects on a budget, they are worth a look.

Cinetics makes a series of products that turn a Joby Focus tripod into a dolly that can roll along the ground or a motorized track, or be mounted on a vehicle.

The most basic product is the CineSkates system ($350), which began as a KickStarter project. It puts urethane skateboard-type wheels at the base of the tripod so that you can roll smoothly for tracking shots. It’s really best for tabletop videography. For one thing, the rig only stands about waist high. For another, any uneven surface – even the slate floor in my test – causes a lot of camera vibration.

I imagine a wider range of uses for the CineVise ($300) and CineSquid ($270) systems, which can be used to attach a camera to a vehicle. With these, you could take the kind of action shots you usually take with a Hero camera, only in higher fidelity because it can support a DSLR or midweight video camera. The CineVise puts vice clamps on the feet of the tripod. The CineSquid adds suction cups.

There are also smaller versions, the MiniSkates ($150) and MiniSquid ($130), for taking videos with your phone.

But the really mesmerizing shots can be made with a motorized dolly on a track, the CineMoco ($850). In its most impressive effect, it produces a time-lapse video in which the camera changes position during photography.

It’s not a cheap way to get specialty shots, but it is less expensive than professional gear. For those who just need the gear for a shot or two, however, there are shops that rent this kind of equipment.

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