The Day Matthews Slider Inventor Alex Amyot Visited Burbank
While many folks get big ideas for better ways to do things in this business, Alex Amyot builds them. Fulfilling his goal to make jobs easier and quicker, he’s responsible for several grip tools in common use on set. In addition to the famous Matthews Slider, he also designed the K-Stackers mount for KinoFlo banks, the Lazy Suzy camera mount, and more rugged essentials found on standard Grip trucks across the globe. Not bad for a self-taught kid who paid attention while working in his grandfather’ hardware store in Montreal Canada.
And that’s just his sideline. His main gig for the past 35 years has been as a gaffer on scores of motion pictures and television productions—he’s done 10 in the last two years. So he “gets” what gaffers and grips appreciate in in gear.
It was in 2014 that Amyot had a radically new concept for a slider. “I sent pictures to Ed Philips and flew to Burbank with my slider in parts. I assembled it in the office with just some Allen keys in half an hour.
Amyot’s own criteria were strict. “The whole product had to be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and field serviceable with a spanner wrench and Allen keys.” That meant no greasing or oiling. “The difference between our design and others is that this one is extremely lightweight, and instead of using bearings, we use wheels.” And that’s where his design was truly unique: the wheels are positioned on both the top and bottom rails. “That makes it invertible without any modification, giving the camera crew more control. The more you do in-camera the more control you have over the end product.”
In addition, he says that Matthews Slider is the only one you can use with a gear head. “That’s why you always see others with a fluid head.” Friction is another factor and apparently roller bearings require more than does his solution. “To move sideways you want as little friction as possible.” Amyot says the minimum weight the slider should have is 5-10 pound loads, but, the slider will handle up to 175lbs with ease.
There have been few changes since 2014 when he and Ed Philips shook hands to seal the collaboration. “The Matthews Slider is on every project I do. The DoP I work with, Daniel Villeneuve, CSC loves it. He calls it The Cadillac of the sliders.”