One of the best ways to develop as a director, or even a cinematographer, is to edit. Or at least be sure to stay in the bay, so to speak. Enjoy the intimate experience of viewing every single frame of your footage...again, and again, and again. I can practically guarantee that you will never miss another cover shot during production, and you will learn so much about pace! Pace can be the difference between keeping or losing your audience.
When you are in post-production pondering your cinematic hard work, you might just find yourself saying: "This scene really wants for a nice, lyrical camera move." Camera moves help set the tone for a scene, build dramatic tension, or simply add beauty shots to your work. (See also the previous post about crane/jib shots, "I Got Moves".) A great editor can fake much in the editing bay, but why should she? Learn your craft. Get what you need on the day. There will be plenty for your editor to do, trust. (Yeah, I hear you laughing, Color Correction.)
For less money than you'd pay the editor for that fake-out, you could buy a crane/jib, slider, or tripod dolly. Moreover, you then will be replicating those beautiful camera moves with something you can reuse -- shoot after shoot after shoot. Can't say that about your editor's time spent.
"So what the heck can a slider or tripod dolly do for me, anyway?" The short answer is: tracking shots. But, unlike traditional dolly track & car, both of these camera accessories are incredibly portable; and, a slider can perform tracking at any angle from horizontal to vertical.
One advantage of a slider or tripod dolly is to effectuate a push-in or pull-back move without altering your depth-of-field, as you would by zooming the camera's lens. If you have a tripod fluid head, you can mount that to a slider to further enhance your travelling shots with simultaneous pans and tilts.
Apart from a visual effect, another fantastic benefit of a tripod dolly is a purely utilitarian use of easily moving your entire camera setup from one spot to another. (Be careful moving on uneven surfaces!) This is particularly good when shooting in a crowd, where you want the advantage of stabilization but also mobility.
Let's say you are covering a wedding reception, class reunion, or school dance. And, you know that you will at some point in your life...We all do. You don't want to be lifting and carrying your fully-mounted camera & sticks, trying to navigate the crowded room. That is a recipe for disaster. But, with your tripod mounted to a dolly spreader, you can simply nudge yourself through the crowd whispering "Yeah, this is how I roll." Well, okay, that last part is entirely optional. But, for less than $100, having a tripod dolly is worth it for this reason alone. Of course, having a mounted tripod dolly assist in moving your whole crane/jib setup...priceless. Uh, actually, price is right here.
Tell us about your creative uses of slider or tripod dolly. Better yet, show us! Send us video of your projects or even camera tests so that we can see if you've got moves. We'll feature them on our Customer's Page, with your permission.