Shooting moving marbles / Skater Mini Dolly

Marty Oppenheimer

Hi Graham

We were the first rental house in the US to carry the Skater Mini Dolly and it has been popular.

My first adjustment question for you is, "Did the Skater you were using come with the laser pointer attachment?"  While you can calculate the angles for the rotation you need, it may be more accurate to use the laser pointer.  It mounts onto each of the wheels via a pair of pins.  You then aim each wheel in turn to the point you wish to rotate on and that should accurately lock you into the correct angle for each wheel.  No need for calculating and trying to set tenths of degrees which aren't marked.  IF this Skater was missing the laser, I'm sure a replacement can be ordered from PS Technik.

FOR SALE:  Some of you know we are getting out of the active camera rental business.  In that regard, we have a variety of equipment for sale, INCLUDING our Skater Mini Dolly.  It is in pristine condition.  If anyone on the list is interested in buying it, please send me a ping.  Percentage to Geoff if sold through CML.

Marty Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer Cine Rental
Oppenheimer Camera Products

On 2/9/2018 6:46 AM, Graham Futerfas wrote:
Hi Tom, have you used the Skater Dolly? Curious what other people think of it.

I had it out on a toy shoot, and it was cool but I found it had a few flaws. I didn’t have the Skater Scope lens, though, just the dolly. Interestingly, I think we were able to rent it from JL Fisher in Los Angeles.

Two things about it:

1. The coolest feature is it’s ability to designate a precise point to rotate around, essentially doing wrap-around dolly moves on a subject. You are supposed to be able to measure a distance away from a mark on the Skater dolly, say 18” or whatever, and then there’s a handy little chart that comes with it. If you look up 18” on the chart, you set the angle on wheels A, B, and C, and it’s supposed to rotate around that point.

Only thing is, it would drift a lot away from the mark and after four or five takes, it wouldn’t be in the right spot. No matter how precisely I tried to set the angles on the wheels, it just kept drifting. It did sort of work for the shot — it’s hard to come up with an easy way to do circle-dolly moves on miniatures, and this was the easiest I’ve seen. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? The chart would say something like 62.8 degrees, but the marks between 62 and 63 are so small that it wouldn’t be possible to be that precise.

2. You can’t tilt during the shot. You can adjust the angle of the tilt, but it’s not a friction head, just an angle plate that’s not good for operating. It’s basically a locked-off head, which doesn’t work for a lot of shots that I wanted to do, especially push-ins.

I love the concept of the Skater but I found it had some limitations. We built little tables and surfaces out of MDF and Plexi to roll the Skater on, and we needed to be able to adjust the height of the Skater’s table separately from the subject’s surface, so we built the table on low combo stands to adjust the height.


Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA