If Ohio-based DP Jeff Barklage could have carved out time from his busy shooting schedule, he would have literally camped out at MSE’s loading dock to be first in line when FloatCam’s HD DC-Slider became available. He was that anxious to get his hands on his new favorite tool. “As someone who shoots a LOT of locations work, I am always amazed at the size restraints we seem to get ourselves into,” he says. “With our cameras getting faster/smaller and more efficient, and our lights becoming smaller and lighter, still we have dollies that are large and heavy. I suppose one would not want a smaller dolly, with two riders, smooth hydraulics, etc…
“But, often times, we need to do a compound move but cannot fit the dolly into our shooting area. Or, there simply isn’t time for track set up,” he adds. “I’ve used sliders almost 10 years now and love them. But the need to do ‘more’ than a slider can do always was in the back of my mind. I wanted to do booms and diagonal moves – but could not with a standard slider. When I heard mention of this new style ‘slider’ on the horizon, I jumped at the chance to get my name in line to receive one.
“Now, for the first time ever, you can take your ‘slider’ and use it standard as a lateral slider, but with a few quick turns of a lever, it becomes a ‘dolly’ with the ability to do a boom diagonal move! A few quick readjustments and it is a jib-arm! These features are really great to have all rolled into one unit. Now, I can use the Slider on a dolly or I can use it on sticks, on apples, etc. It’s a very versatile piece of production machinery!”
Since taking possession of his HD DC-Slider, Jeff Barklage has used it on almost every job he’s gotten. And there have been a lot! One of his most interesting was a series of three national TV Sports and web ads for SmartSide, a new type of house siding. He chose to shoot with EPIC-X and Phantom Flex, with a few GoPro mounts. “Our first location for the Nashville portion of the shoot was the HALE Stadium at TSU (Tennessee State University),” he recalls.
“As with most stadiums, you are not permitted to take dollies out onto the grass, yet the script required camera movement that was beyond simple lateral slider moves; boom downs, diagonal motions, sweeping past talent, etc. They were shots that could be accomplished with a dolly or crane, yet we had a list of some 30 shots to do before lunch!” he explains. “There was no way to cheat all of our shots to the sidelines to bring the action closer to the dolly (which was only allowed on the sidelines). Nor did we have the reach with any conventional cranes to do these shots. The majority of the needed shots took place on the 50-yard line smack-dab in the middle of the field.
“So, we used my new HD DC-Slider from Matthews on sticks!” he continues. “We could quickly re-configure it to low mode on apples, then back up to big sticks, etc. Being only six feet in length, two grips could carry it all over the field for additional shots. This allowed us to give virtually every shot some sort of interesting movement. Not just a series of lock offs!
“And, when we did stunt work with A and B cameras, we mounted the Phantom (cranking at 2500fps) on a hi-hat or sticks, then using the HD DC-Slider, we could bring the camera right into the shooting area allowing for a much smaller footprint.
“On our final days on stage, we used the HD DC-Slider on every shot. It was so easy to quickly do moves off of foreground objects, travel over table- tops, sweep through doorways. Things that usually called for massive camera support re-builds. Bob Egle, our director, turned to me at one point and said; ‘How did we work in the past without this?’ Now that’s the perfect end to a great shoot!”