The StreamLiner Cinema Dolly System

The StreamLiner Cinema Dollyis a newly-designed portable camera tracking mount for production companies who use medium or large-format digital video cameras, and, one of the very few large-format “sliders” that offers a motor-drive option for smooth tracking shots.
(Note any of the photos below can be expanded to a larger photo by simply clicking on the photo)

Also, be advised that the Streamliner table and wheel-channel assemblies have been significantly re-designed, and new photos and video samples will be posted shortly. These are cosmetic changes which do not affect the working excellence as seen on video demos.  Posted immediately below is the raw-aluminum version of this new model, which will be anodized shortly. It is available for purchase…first come, first serve.

New design wheel channels.

Newly designed wheel channels.

For an ENG/EFP-style camera like the one shown above (Sony PWV-350K), a DP or assistant can assemble the Streamliner in as little as 10-12 minutes. Compare that to a typical floor dolly on fixed-steel track that can take up to an hour to assemble, and you can realize the savings in production time, and get many more shots in the can!!

Features:

  • Easy and quick set-up / breakdown
  • Manual or motor-assist models
  • Accommodates track length up to 20 feet
  • Mounts to rolling stands as well as table-top
  • Extremely well built and customizable
  • Low cost

Introduction
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned-pro, we all strive to increase production value in our shows with shots where we move the camera as opposed to tripod shots. 

The StreamLiner Dolly was designed to provide an alternative to floor-track dollies for those who use a large-format camera(s). Not only will the image be much steadier than any ride-along dolly can ever produce (especially at full zoom), the Streamliner can be assembled and used in a fraction of the set-up time, and, by only one person if need be. If you’ve ever had to use a floor-dolly system, you know the associated headaches: long and heavy steel tracks that must be leveled with wedges; a rolling platform for the operator/rider where a tripod extends the camera up to the 6-foot level; and a crew to not only push or pull this dolly for the shot, but a crew to set-up and transport the components. (And if the shoot is out-of-town, count on more bucks for room, board, and fees).

Self-contained sliders for large-format cameras are nothing new, but in most cases, an operator is limited to tracking length, and few offer any motor assistance. Just think of it…on a complex shot on a manual slider, you are asked to not only perform smooth and precise tilt and pan camera functions, you are also expected to simultaneously move the camera down the track with unvarying precision. Some people like a jittery, un-even look that brings attention to the camera; others don’t. If you want to show that human intervention, simply use the dolly in manual mode.

Not all of us live in large cities with access to film/video rental houses, and acquiring a doorway dolly w/steel track is simply not an easy option….nor do we necessarily want to have to purchase and store such large pieces of equipment. Additionally, most rental companies require you to carry insurance to cover their items, which is understandable, of course.

The StreamLiner Cinema Dolly System is perfect for this situation. The individual components are small, lightweight, and affordable. There’s a lot to be said for owning your own gear and having instant access!

Manual or Motor-Assist Models:
The StreamLiner (in its manual configuration) comes with two end-assembly units, two pieces of 6-foot track, and a rolling table that can accommodate almost any size camera. The table is milled to accept Mitchell plates and comes with a 100mm ball adaptor. (Large heads such as the O’Conner 2575 mount directly to the table. Bolts w/plates to secure the head or tripod under the table are not included). Manual tables have a blank where the motor-drive plate goes, as well as blanks for connector holes.

The motor-assist option adds a remote-control, a motor-drive plate, timing belt anchors, belts, circuit board, and a few other small pieces, and the need for additional power such as an additional battery or AC unit. Conversion from pure manual model to power-assist is possible, however, you will need to send the table to us. Safety chains are included on both models.

The StreamLiner Dolly is made almost entirely of aluminum, and is produced on a CNC machine for accuracy and precision. The camera table is a solid slab of ½” aluminum, not a skeletal framework as most other dollies seem to be. Four wheels with Swiss bearings ride atop 1.50” aluminum tubes, with another inner-set of wheels that hug the inside surface track keeping it tracking straight and true….they never require any adjusting.

The motor-assist option allows the operator to concentrate on pan and tilt camera operations without having to also provide the lateral tracking force. As long as there aren’t both manual focus and zoom functions to perform on a shot, an operator can operate the remote with one hand while operating the camera with the other….within limitations, of course. To be clear, the motor-assist applies to lateral tracking back and forth along the tracks…there is NO motor-assist for pan or tilt functions. It is important to note that some other slider manufacurers use a motor-drive based on friction against the track, which can cause slippage. The StreamLiner’s use of a precise timing belt provides a smooth, linear, stable drive force

The remote control has a 3-position directional switch, speed potentiometer, and an on/off switch. There are two long pigtails coming off the remote handle; one is for 12 volt DC input, the other plugs into the table to operate the motor. By an optional adaptor, the remote can be mounted to fluid heads’ arms, allowing you complete control of the camera.

The motor is a 12 VDC industrial grade gear-head type containing plenty of torque. Smooth ramp up and ramp down moves are possible with our standard motor, using the speed potentiometer on the remote control. (Other motor speeds are available; contact us by phone to discuss these).

Power to the motor circuit is provided by either a separate battery or by plugging into the AC/DC converter for your camera. (This 12 VDC is also sometimes provided on battery charging units such as Anton Bauer). Batteries must have an adaptor to change the output to a 4-pin male plug, such as the Anton-Bauer QR-1700 or QR-UNIV adaptor if using AB “bricks”. Since battery sizes and styles vary greatly, this adaptor is not included with the StreamLiner Dolly System.

Track Lengths:
Unlike most other dolly systems, you are not limited to using 4, 5, or 6-foot track lengths. The StreamLiner Dolly features a versatile “pass-through” design of securing the track to the end-assemblies, allowing you to use as little or as much track as you need. The only exception to this is that 1.5” diameter (0.250 wall) aluminum tubing comes from the mill (to suppliers) in 20-foot lengths, the maximum length you can order. Obviously, a 20-footer can be cut into two 10-foot pieces or eights or sixes. The Streamliner comes with two 6-foot black anodized sections.

Customization:
Each StreamLiner dolly comes as shown in the photographs…a combination of black and gray anodizing with stainless steel flathead screws for that “mechanical” look….very cool. Should a customer prefer a different color scheme for anodizing, we can do that, however conditions apply. Should you require additional machining to accommodate a special piece of gear, we can provide that too, however this should be expressed at the time of order.

We hope that the purchaser/owner/user of the StreamLiner realizes that it is a valuable production tool, and should be treated accordingly. We have taken care to apply an expensive anodized finish, and even provide bags to protect the components. If at anytime you would like to have any of the components restored to “as new” condition, we can have your pieces re-anodized for a small fee.

The StreamLiner (manual or motorized versions) is intended and designed ONLY for straight and level operation.

StreamLiner Dolly Support Options:
The StreamLiner dolly can most easily be used on a simple but sturdy plastic folding table, four to six foot in length. It can also be used on a set of apple boxes; directly on the floor; or on a set of Matthews rolling stands using our optional stand-mount adaptors, which are adjustable from low to high.

StreamLiner Weight Specifications
End-assembly weight (each): 12 lbs.

6-foot tracks weight (both): 7 lbs.
Rolling table assembly weight: 20 lbs.
(Table dimensions are 13” x 19”)

For Rolling Stands Usage: (Optional Equipment)
Adjustable stand adapters (both sets): 19 lbs.

Various Camera System Weights (excludes dolly):

Sony PMW-350K camera w/lens (typical ENG/EFP camera), Sachtler Video II 100mm head, Anton Bauer (AB) “brick” battery; IKAN 8” monitor…….28 lbs. (See photo below; click for larger image)

Arri Alexa camera, Arri Alura 45-250 zoom lens, O’Conner 2575 head, AB Brick Battery, HD monitor, Arri matte box……63 lbs. See photo below; click for larger image)

Canon C-300 camera, Arri Alura 45-250 zoom lens, O’Conner 2575 head, AB Brick Battery, HD monitor, Arri matte box….60 lbs. (See photo below; click for larger image)

Note that the Arri Alura 45-250 zoom lens (shown in above photos) is 16 pounds just on its own, and the O’Conner 2575 head supporting the camera(s) is a whopping 22 pounds. The Canon C-300 camera (above) is a mere 3 pounds. More than likely, a cinematographer probably wouldn’t use the large zoom lens and O’Conner head shown….but again, he might. The use of individual prime lenses cuts this weight way down. So the point is, always know the combined weight of the camera systems you are assembling. Most all gear has a published weight on the Internet.

StreamLiner Support Methods:
Table-Top
For table-top use, we believe the 6-foot commercial-grade plastic folding table from Lifetime will be fine, and should be able to easily hold 100-150 pounds. (Note: LifeTime Tables does NOT furnish or publish weight capacities for their tables!).

Rolling Stands
If you want to use a couple of rolling stands for the ease of moving your dolly around on a flat smooth floor, then you will need our stand adaptors, which simply allow you to fasten the end-assemblies to the top of a rolling stand. Our adapters can place your camera at 3 levels: at the top; mid-way, or at its lowest point very near the legs. Although these are very stout and steady, sandbags should be used on the extended legs (not shown). (Stand adaptors are optional).

If you own and plan to use lightweight camera set-ups such as ENG/EFP cameras with the typical 100mm tripod head, then the Junior Low Boy Double-Riser on Rollers stands are adequate (Matthews #H386021)

If you are using heavier set-ups such as the Arri Alexa and others (shown above), we recommend you purchase (or rent) the Senior Low Boys on rollers as they have a higher weight capacity. (Keep in mind that the Senior stands are 6” taller than the Junior stands). (Matthews #H386026)

Other Features and Items
With every StreamLiner Cinema Dolly System, we include a couple of short lengths of track so that the unit can be put together without using the long supplied tracks. This can help with initial set-up and camera balancing before a shoot, and is a great way to store or display your dolly system on a shelf without keeping it all in bags and cases.

You will also receive zippered bags for the end-assemblies (one bag per assembly), and a padded 6′ bag for the tracks. We do not provide a separate case for the table as you can purchase your own Pelican case (or have a spare one). If you need us to supply a case for the table, please let us know and we can accommodate your request.

An important aspect of the Streanliner you might want to keep in mind: a removeable table. This may not sound like much until you look at other systems. Some have a captured (skeletal) table that slides within machined channels. Not only are you limited by the length of track you can use, you have to go to a lot of trouble to dismantle your camera set-up in order to move to the next location. With the Streamliner, you simply lift the camera and table off the tracks, keeping it all together. The corner feet allow you to set the table off to the side until you’ve moved the tracks for the next shot…..then simply put the camera table back onto the tracks.

Remote Control:
For the motor-assist model, you will receive a custom-machined, hand-held remote control. Switches on the control include direction (right-stop-left); a potentiometer to set speed and to perform ramp-up and ramp down moves; an LED power indicator light; and a switch to turn power on and off to the remote. Two cables exit the bottom-end of the remote, one of which has a 4-pin XLR male connector for 12 volt DC power. The other cable has an Amphenol connector that goes to the corresponding connector on the table. The opposite end of the tubular remote will be fitted with a flat machined aluminum end-cap. (Be advised that we will probably not be shipping the remote with the wooden cap as seen in photos).

This cap will allow the installation of newly-designed quick-release adaptor which allows the remote control to be mounted to either fluid head arms. This adaptor assembly will be offered as an optional accessory.

Alternate Connector: A Smart Idea
There may be situations where a shot or action becomes apparent behind you, and in the opposite direction that you just set up for. Rather than having to take the time and effort to move the track around 180 degrees, all the operator has to do is walk around to the opposite side of the tracks, spin the camera around, and plug the remote control cable into the alternate connector on that side. Right and left motion will still be correct. (The side with the motor-drive is considered the primary operator position).

Rental:
Sorry, we do not rent our dolly system; they are strictly for sale only. Should a film/video rental company want to purchase a StreamLiner Cinema Dolly System and rent it out, then we welcome the opportunity.

Customization:
Again, any StreamLiner can be customized at the time of order. Should you like a different color scheme other than the “default” scheme seen in the above photos, we can accommodate that request. Standard anodizing colors include purple, blue, red, orange, yellow, gold, etc. Please note that the Adjustable Stand Assembly for rolling stands will be “clear” anodized unless another color is requested. Clear anodizing seals the raw aluminum and prevents it from oxidizing. We use clear simply because most stands will be bright aluminum anyway, and there’s nothing to gain from making this assembly dark. Should you require black anodizing, not a problem….just let us know in advance.

Should you have a specific device that requires special tapped holes for mounting screws, such as a High-Hat, we will obviously need to know of this before the machining of your dolly begins. More than likely, we will need you to send your device to us so that we get the holes in the right place on the table.  We furnish one Accessory Strip that screws down to either side of the table. This strip contains numerous 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 tapped holes for extension arms that hold small LCD monitors and other various camera accessories. So, you don’t need to designate these threaded holes be put into your table.

We can also leave the surface of the table blank, and NOT machine the step in the center for the Mitchel base or plate. Obviously, we need to know this in advance. A larger table size is also possible, just let us know your needed dimensions. The track width and position of wheel channels under the table will not be changed. (Almost anything can be modified, including track width…contact us and we can quote you a price for a custom unit).

Using Tripods:
As expressed above, the StreamLiner is NOT to be used as a floor dolly with a rider and/or full-size tripod. However, it doesn’t mean that a very small, stubby tripod couldn’t be somehow attached to the table. (It’s your dolly so you can do whatever you like with it).
The table’s dimensions are 13″ x 19″, so if it fits, more power to you.

Motion-Control & Time Lapse:
In the most general terms, the Streamliner Cinema Dolly System is NOT a motion-control nor a time-lapse rig, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be if you are willing to throw some bucks at it to make it so. As many of you know, time lapse requires the track to stop incrementally, while the camera takes single shots at each of these stops. Most ENG/EFP cameras do NOT have the ability to have their shutter externally operated by a computer program to take a single still-frame, so that makes the point moot. (Of course, there are probably some high-end cameras that do have this capability; we simply don’t know). Even at the slowest speed of the motor, it may make 30 seconds to go the distance between two 6′ tracks. A camera such as the PMW-350 will only take one (or two) frame(s) per second. Ultimtely, this will only yield a bout a second of finished time-lapse, which is far less than you can effectively work with.

The same is true in producing motion-control capabilities, which use very high-precision motors controlled by elaborate computer software that not only control the horizontal track, but also tilt and pans, each with their own controller motor. There are companies who can modify the StreamLiner into a time-lapse or motion-controll rig, but we would just as soon keep our dolly (for the time being) a low-cost and portable alternative for getting very nice and smooth tracking shots.

Motors:
We think the particular gear-ratio (on the supplied motor) gives the best overall performance at low and high speed. But if you feel you want even slower capabilities, we can install a motor with an even higher gear ratio…..but be aware that this will also reduce the speed at the high-end of operating range. What you might consider is having another drive plate with this alternate motor on it for those situations (such as product shots) where you need that extremely slow speed. Changing out the drive plates is very simple. Unplug the motor connector, back out two small screws, and lift out….its that simple. (Alternately, you may want a faster motor too, but be aware that these can be difficult to walk alongside with….its all a matter of preference). If after using your Streamliner you decide you want a slower/faster motor (but don’t want to buy an alternate drive plate), simply return your drive plate to us and we’ll exchange the motor free of charge.

Contact Info:
Should you have any questions at all, please send an e-mail to <mcload@gmail.com>.

Be advised that ALL correspondence is held in strict confidence, and is never divulged to others, period. For costs of the StreamLiner, please see other tab “How To Order” (or click on this link). You can also check to see how many units we may have ready to ship or partially built.

To see our preliminary demos, please click on tab at the top of this page, for simply click here: DEMOS

In Appreciation
Camera set-ups for photographic purposes were provided by TexCam of Houston, the premiere film/video/grip rental equipment company in Houston, Texas, (and beyond).

We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the use of their fine equipment, personnel, and facilities in shooting these photographs and video. Please visit their website at www.TexCam.com.