Setting Up a Dolly Track

This guide has been written assuming that you are using a Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000 and you are using a LEGO cradle for that webcam. But it will probably work with other webcams that can be built into a LEGO cradle that as uniform straight edges front and back.

Having asked around on the forums for the best method of filming a dolly shot, this is where your camera moves horizontally across the set. For more info on the types of shots you can use, there is an article all about the Types of Shots here in the resource center. I had numerous suggestions and I mixed a few of them together to come up with this tutorial.

You will need, two base plates, a cheap plastic ruler and two 2×2 flat LEGO tiles and some Superglue.

WARNING: Superglue is strong stuff and was designed originally to glue flesh together as an emergency field dressing in the Vietnam War. It does exactly what it was designed to do, it sticks skin together VERY well and fast. If you don’t take care you may well find you have stuck your fingers together or have Lego stuck to your fingers or worse. Please be careful.

You want to make sure that you have your set fixed down firmly and that it can’t move. Likewise if you are using a backdrop make sure it is anchored down well. A set bump, or backdrop movement will ruin your filming sequence and you will have to start from scratch.

As dolly shots last for a few seconds, you will be shooting a lot of frames for one continuous scene, so you need to ensure that you have good even lighting with no changes to the lighting conditions as light flicking during a dolly shot is very noticeable and will also ruin you filming.

The set up is pretty simple, you have one main base plate with your film set on it. Then you have your LEGO webcam cradle on the table to workbench you have placed your film set on. Make sure you place the LEGO cradles front edge up hard against the edge of the film set base plate.

Then place your smaller base plate on the table behind the webcam cradle. Again make sure that you push the smaller base plate up hard against the back edge of the web cam cradle.

So now you have a film set base plate, and a smaller base plate with your webcam sandwiched firmly between the two base plates. As per the photo below. Now you need to fix LEGO strips at the left and right hand edges of the base plates, so that they reach across the gap between the main base plate and the smaller one.

This are the black Lego pieces you can see there. This ensures that the two base plates are connected and that the run for the webcam cradle is uniform and stable for the whole length gap it will travel along.

Here is a photo of how I set up my studio for a dolly shot (this was taken before I finished fixing the base plates down with tape, got to make sure your set doesn�t move at all during the shooting, so make sure you really fix the base plates well and the same goes for any background scenery as well)

You can see that I have the LEGO webcam cradle sandwiched between two Lego base plates that are held together in place with the black Lego bricks. This ensures that the gap for the webcam cradle run is at a fixed distance.

Next I placed the 2×2 flat tiles on the gray base plate and dabbed a bit of superglue on the center of each of the 2×2 flat tiles. Last of all I placed the ruler down onto the superglue ready tiles, ensuring that the front edge of the ruler was pushed up hard against the webcam cradle.

Why use superglue, well it ensures that the ruler and its glued on tiles will never move in any direction once it is placed on the base plate. As it is glued to the 2×2 tiles it will always be easy to remove and replace onto the base plate in future and will always be set up correctly against the back edge of the webcam cradle.

Now you can move the webcam one millimeter at a time taking a shot each time you move it horizontally along the Dolly Run. This will ensure a smooth dolly shot sequence.

If you have a different webcam and have made your own custom cradle for it, I am sure the two base plate and glued ruler method will work for that as well.