camera sliders. if you're reading this, you probably know what they are. but for those new to the game:
camera sliders are designed to provide video shooters smooth, linear movement. the motion is similar (and in many cases identical) to a dolly move. but where a dolly move is generally a longer distance, slider shots are often just a few feet--typically used for reveals, establishing or product beauty shots.
one thing for sure. when you need one - you need one. the popularity of HD video enabled DSLRs and their "cinematic" nature has put sliders in higher demand than ever.
the downside is that traditional sliders can be fairly expensive. even the few "cheap" models start at about $300, and the price quickly goes to $500, $800, $1,000 or more...
most popular sliders employ a variety of moving parts--bearings, wheels, belts, wires, even motors. all of this CAN deliver a very smooth path of motion. but what if you need a slider shot, and a traditional slider doesn't fit your project budget?
for many people, the answer is "DIY"
there are many good DIY solutions out there for sure! but look around. the vast majority of them are either too wobbly, too noisy, imprecise, made up of too many parts, or simply look like some crazy, cobbled together plumbing contraption.
i told myself there had to be a better, more efficient and more professionally acceptable option...
enter the Drivingboard. a 36" fixed-component, camera slider
the Drivingboard combines fairly common materials in a very nontraditional way. it's designed to duplicate the smooth motion of a conventional slider, but in a much more affordable and easy-to-use way.
what it IS: - a camera support system with no moving parts, designed to provide smooth, linear motion shooting options at a reasonable price.
- comprised of just two, fixed components: a select, solid hardwood "camera sled" with hardened-plastic discs that slide on a pair of extruded and polished, aluminum a-rails, attached to a 2-piece, hardwood base.
- designed for video DSLR and smaller to medium sized* video cameras. (*most test footage was shot on a panasonic hpx-170)
what it DOES: - uses the minimal friction between two very smooth, fixed components to deliver VERY easy (and VERY affordable) linear as well as compound camera moves.
- allows you to mount both quick-release plates and a variety of heads (via standard 3/8" and 1/4" mounting points), for connecting to most standard production tripods and stands.
we chose poplar as the base for the Drivingboard for a variety of reasons.
it's strong yet light weight
it's much more affordable than metal
it's much more rigid than other "affordable" materials (ESPECIALLY PVC!)
has a nice but not distracting grain, and results in a professional, "old school" hand-crafted look
what it is NOT:
- the Drivingboard is not just another janky "PVC pipe and skateboard parts" mini-dolly. this is a novel and very literal take on the concept of a "slider"
- it does not intend to directly compete with other, more complex and more feature-rich, linear motion products. there is no motorized option, you cant make it climb walls, you cant hang it upside down from the ceiling. the only thing the Drivingboard does (and does extraordinarily well!) is provide basic slider moves to the filmmaker on a budget.
designers note: the Drivingboard is designed to be a very effective yet very streamlined and very affordable slider device. the unit relies simply on friction and gravity to function. REMEMBER: the camera sled is NOT in any way ATTACHED TO THE RAILS BASE. if left unsupervised, it can easily be knocked off of or fall to the gound. when you are not actively using the slider, simply lift the sled and camera from the rails and place in a secure location. think of it like using a jib, shoulder rig or stabilizer. you don't just leave your camera where the shot ended and walk away. you park it somewhere safe and out of danger.
the rewards here are pretty simple: - your name on our website (all pledge levels) - beverage coasters - glow-in-the-dark t-shirts (long or short-sleeve) - the Drivingboard slider itself
here is a look at what you can expect them to look like:
"i challenge you to find a slider anywhere near as effective as this for anywhere near this price!"
go ahead, search around. the nearest competitor is almost twice the price of the Drivingboard.
we arent trying to get rich from this. our relatively small funding goal was chosen to make this product realistically available to those who want it. and it won't take tens of thousands of dollars to do that.
the funding target is designed to secure materials, production facilities and dedicate the time to produce and market as few as 30 units. if we JUST meet that goal, awesome! it means 30 people get an awesome production tool that they need. if we get pledges far beyond our goal - even better!
but if we don't make our goal at all - well, the market has spoken...
so, if you think this is something that would suit your needs - help us make it a reality on the mass scale. tell your friends, share this page on forums, visit our website, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook, tell your mom this is what you want for christmas - yadda, yadda, yadda ; )
i will say this: i'm about 200lbs, and i put the slider on the ground, placed the sled on the slider and put nearly all of my weight on the sled and it didnt flinch - and still slid smoothly. if you plan to use it on the ground, a tabletop or some other fixed surface, i would [almost] guarantee that it would carry just about any reasonable camera you can put on it.
i'd say from my testing, that most any typically-equipped (baseplate, rails, follow focus, mattebox, etc) DSLR or DVX or even red / alexa camera rigs will work just fine - as long as the tripod or stand you plan to use is up to the challenge.
just remember, the sled isn't attached to the rails. so if your camera rig is significantly fore or aft heavy - THAT is what will make the Drivingboard more difficult or impossible to use.
most of the testing was done with a small manfrotto head (561BHDV - taken from a monopod combo) and panasonic HPX170 camera on the sled and the slider base was on a manfrotto 510 head via standard quick-release plate on 3193 legs - which all worked superbly.
if you own or have access to the tools, the skills to use them and the time to do it - NOTHING! in fact you have our blessing. we've created a new $20 reward level that provides a detailed parts list and assembly instructions.
to build a Drivingboard from raw materials you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE a tablesaw with 45º blade tilt functionality and a good, accurate rip fence.
a router / router table and drill-press are also advised, but not absolutely required.
however, since we are not doing the work, we cannot guarantee the success of your end product.
coffee, tea, mineral water, maybe something stronger? show your guests that you know quality ideas when you see them with a 12-pack of groovy Drivingboard "funding supporter" heavy-duty cardboard beverage coasters.
(you'll also be listed as a supporter on our website)
FREE domestic US shipping. add $5 for international orders
the "handyman special" for all you DIY folks out there! your $20 pledge gets you a PDF file with detailed parts list and assembly instructions to build your own Drivingboard. NOTE: to build a successful Drivingboard, you absolutely MUST HAVE (or have access to) a tablesaw with 45º blade tilt capability and an accurate rip fence. a router is also suggested but not required.
like the two groups above, you'll be thanked by name on our product website - BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! you'll be the envy of the neighborhood in your glow-in-the-dark Drivingboard "funding supporter" short-sleeve t-shirt.
FREE domestic US shipping. add $10 for international orders
"the bones" - your $100 pledge gets you all the parts to assemble your own Drivingboard. no sawing or routing required. FREE domestic US shipping. add $40 for international orders
NOTE: while assembly is not overly complex, since we are not performing final assembly and cannot test tem. we cannot guarantee the final accuracy or performance of these kits
your $200 pledge jumps you ahead in line. get a 100% functional, pre-production model, days (maybe weeks before anyone else). all Drivingboards are 100% hand-made. but yours is even more "hand-made" and will come with a personalized, handwritten "thank you" from the designer.
we'd like to say there is a t-shirt included. but we can't promise. if the shirts are done by the time your slider ships. yes! if not, sorry... ; )
FREE domestic US shipping. add $40 for international orders
BYOS! (build your own slider)
for those of you who may need a slider longer than 36" this is the level for you! from 37" to as long as 72" choose your length and mounting method (within the realm of common tripod or stand componentry) to suit your needs.
shipping cost is the responsibility of the buyer.
for the collector-types out there - your $750 pledge gets you the working prototype Drivingboard (the exact one that magically appears in the video) signed to you, by the designer. your name will be at the TOP of the supporter list and you get both the short-sleeve and long-sleeve, glow-in-the-dark, "funding supporter" t-shirts AND two sets of our groovy "Drivingboard funding supporter" heavy-duty cardboard beverage coasters. all shipped free to the US. add $45 for international orders