Cinematography Mailing List - CML

30ft Motion Control Move On A Budget


Hi all-

A director I work with wants to do an exterior 30' motion control move over the course of a 12 hour day. The budget will most likely not be huge. Are there any DSLR rigs that can accomplish something like this? I'm suggesting a Technodolly with an Alexa or Epic but not sure that's going to fly.

Art Adams | DP
San Francisco Bay Area

Hi Art,

One question is if you even need traditional motion control? If the speed of the move is linear then one can roughly figure that to cover 30' in 12 hours, that's 15' in six hours, or 7.5' in three hours, or 2.5 feet per hour, (30 Inches per hour), or a half inch per minute.

Would it be possible to use tradition camera dolly track with either a motorized wheel pinching the track, or a captive clothes line type arrangement with a pulley at either end of the track and either a steel cable or toothed belt and motor connected to either end of a doorway dolly? I suppose it depends on the precision required, but you may be able to rent the dolly and track inexpensively, and simply make some accessories, and a motor plate to clamp onto it in order to accomplish your move.

I've found it useful to roll out a 50' measuring tape alongside the track with double stick tape, and mount a pointer of some kind to keep track of where you are along the move.

Hope this helps, best wishes!

Cindy Webster (New Member)


In about a month, I and my kit are about to go and spend 10 days doing pretty much exactly this sort of thing.

As I said, me and my gear. I think I may be able to provide some suggestions, but a List Mum may feel I'm promoting Me and My Girl amongst other options, so if you want to contact me off list by all means do.


Jackson Woodburn Controls Ltd.

You don't say what kind of move.

Depending on the move complexity, General Lift, my usual go-to motion control house down here in evil Los Angeles, has everything from a motion control flat dolly that can take a tripod and motion control pan/tilt head, to a similar rig with a bit of vertical built in, to the Genuflex short, medium, and long arms.

All of them run on regular gauge dolly track and are pretty quick to set up.

you need a tech and a programmer.

Pacific Motion Control, also down here in LA has similar types of rigs - all of these being relatively easy to horse around, compared to some of the bigger old-school rigs.

The technodolly is a rather large device by comparison, and not being modular, I suspect you would need a petibone to place it outside, though I could be wrong

Just a few thoughts

Mark Weingartner

>> As I said, me and my gear. I think I may be able to provide some suggestions, but a List Mum may feel >>I'm promoting Me and My Girl amongst other options, so if you want to contact me off list by all means >>do.

I would second Ben's self recommendation, if you have to fly something in then Ben's rig would be the best as it's so small (hence easy on the excess baggage).

Marks recommendation is also great, one of Joe's jetrail dollies and a Kuper box would be great. The slight disadvantage would be that you would have to have a constant 110V supply for the whole shot. However
that system is pretty much as bomb proof as you can get ..

In some ways it depends if you REALLY only want track. I built a box that will drive one of my dollies with a Cinematography Electronics PSC, The idea being that you set a speed (say 10fps) and measure how far
the dolly moves, and from that you can work out how fast it needs to go for the whole length you want in the time. I also have a stepper driven head that does the same thing .. and also sliders.

I have rented the stepper driven head out once and rest of it never. Get loads of calls, but in the end I get the impression that for £100 a day people want more than a constant speed pan or track. I think it comes down to the fact that there is no such thing as a "simple" moco move timelapse or otherwise, so you might as well have a "Proper" moco rig for the whole thing.

Also it depends on your subject, Art .. do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket with the move? What happens if someone comes and parks a lorry in the frame and it takes five mins to get rid of it? You can't just drop those frames as the move will jump. I did a time-lapse of a model being built and obviously some of the bits are a bit boring .. so we repeated the move every half hour and then they cut the best bits into a single move ..

(the flicker is the skylight and they made the decision to not block that out at a higher level than me)

Have a look at this .. it's the same idea but a slider not track ..

Justin Pentecost
Motion Control
+44 7973 317241

All great suggestions, thank you. It's a simple 30' linear move with one start and one stop, so reasonably simple. I'm sending the client a number of options and awaiting some further word as to whether we're going to investigate further or change the concept. It's fairly early on in the creative, but the one concept they have shown me so far implies motion control.

Art Adams | DP
San Francisco Bay Area

Where's the Kerner Optical Kuper these days? I'm sure it could handle this job.


Dane Brehm
ICGDIT : Hi-Speed
Spectrum | Bits | Cubes
Oakland, CA

I bought several items through Kerner including most of the remaining ILM Track.

Have a Kuper system and Moco camera crane here in Los Angeles.
My company and shooting stage are located in Glendale.


If you can locate DP Pete Kozachik up there in the Bay area, I'm sure he can hook you up.

Best Wishes!

Cynthia Brett Webster
Director of Photography

Copyright © CML. All rights reserved.