the magic world of Dollies

Last week the JL Fisher BBQ happen and I was able to be there and as has been for the last three years that I went it was a lot of fun. While I was there I start to thinking about what to write in my next post and I though why not to write about dollies?

So here it is all what you wan to know bout dolly!

What is a dolly? It’s a cart that moves on tracks on which you can build your camera on and then push it to have a smooth moving shoot. There are few different kind of dolly:

  • portable dolly: basically a set of wheels to mount underneath your tripod that fit a on tracks

  • doorway dolly: is a flat bed cart on which you can secure you tripod and camera on, and your DP or camera operator and 1st AC can ride on. It’s very light and easy to move. It can be use with tracks or without. If on track you need to use a set of skate wheels.

  • Fisher dolly: there are 4 different model: 9, 10, 11 and spider. Now we are in the realm of heavy film equipment. The difference between 9, 10 and 11 is the size. 11 is the smallest one. They all have a boom harm operated by an hydraulic system that has just been upgraded and it is know smoother and that allow the dolly operator to memorize the speed for booming up and down. 9 and 10 have 3 different and easy to shift steering mode crab, conventional and round. 11 has 2 crab and conventional. They  all have multiple accessories some included in the basic package as seats, front board and other are optional. On this dolly you can build on a Jib arm too. The spider dolly is smaller and with a completely different design. for more information about Fisher dolly and all the other fisher product click on this link

  • Chapman dolly: they have 12 models of dolly from the Superpewee IV to the Hustler IV. They all are operated by hydraulic system with boom arm and several accessories. Steering wheels conventional, crab and round. They have different kind of possible wheels. Chapman offers an Hydrascope camera crane that is they version of a jib arm. On their website you can find several demo video of their products that are very informative. For more information about Chapman product click here

Chapman and Fisher are the two  big company that make dollies and you can find their product all round the world. You can only rent their dollies and this because both of the companies want the higher possible quality for every dolly that when out on set. Both have a high quality client service and if you have any problem with your dolly on set you can call them and they are going to take care of it.

Since they are, basically, the only two companies to manufacture dolly there is an on going competition between them and you can find fisher dolly grip side and a Chapman side. Don’t try to give on one of this fellas a dolly of the other brand to operate they are not going to be happy.

For me what ever is the best fit for your project is the right tool to use. I have more experience with Fisher dolly, but I used Chapman a couple of time and they both have their value. I heard a lot of grip say that pewee from Chapman is more stable that the smaller fisher. But in the end which ever you find more suitable for you and your project is the one for you.



One last thing all the dolly expect the portable one can be use with or without tracks. But if you are not shooting in a studio with a great dance floor, meaning a flat, smooth and perfectly level floor, use tracks and skate wheels. They come in several length, they can be straight or curve with different diameter. They can be round or square.


When working with dolly keep always in mind that it is heavy so take the time to do thing right and in a safe way and to have enough man power to do it.

I love dolly and I thing the dolly movement looks great. It take some practice to become a good dolly grip, but it is a rewarding position.