We’ve all seen those slick slow pan shots in movies. It’s the kind of slow, subtle, linear motion that you can’t duplicate with a tripod. You can get close with a dolly, but it’s still not quite the same. Purchasing a small rig to do this kind of thing can cost hundreds of dollars, so I decided to make my own. The total cost for this rig is around $60, I’ll list the basic parts at the end, but here’s an idea of what it looks like:
The rail is two 4’ x 1” square aluminum tubes, supported by three 8” aluminum U shaped channels. The camera car is two heavy steel 90 degree angle brackets bolted to a 1” x 6” piece of pine. I added two handles and bolted a Bogen ball tripod head to the base. The camera car glides on 8 skateboard wheel bearings I purchased from Amazon for about $8. I used a few bolts, washers and nuts to support the bearings and made sure to use a digital caliper when I aligned everything so it would roll square and true. I might add some teflon coating to the rails to reduce noise, they aren’t loud by any means, but if moving fast you would hear them.
If you are reasonably savvy you should be able to recreate this for yourself. Watch the video clip above, it works quite well.