Ladder Dolly: How and Why
A ladder dolly is a camera dolly system that employs a standard extension ladder as its track. The hardware needed to support this system is affordable, and the ladder dolly system is fast to set up and takes up less room than a traditional dolly with track. Plus, because each piece of ladder is held up by essentially two tripods, it is very easy to level the track.
How to Make It
A ladder dolly works best when it is used with a professional kit designed for it. The kit will come with two clamps for mounting the ladder and a system for attaching the camera onto the track. You should also have at least two professional tripods so you can put the rig at eye level which will make it easier to operate.
The first step in using the ladder dolly is to set up the tripods and space them apart. Then, place the clamps onto the ladder and tighten them, but don't fully tighten it yet. You may need to move them again, so for now you just want to keep them from slipping or falling off. Place the ladder onto the tripod, and then tighten the mounts when they are resting just above the tripod.
The mounts also have adjustable feet on them if you want to put the track on the ground. By turning a knob, you can level the mounts which will level the ladder track. These professional kits also come with their own system for mounting the camera. It's typically an adjustable T bar with a hole where the camera's head can be mounted. Wheels connect the T bar to the ladder, which allows you to move the camera.
Why You Should Consider a Ladder Dolly
There are quite a few reasons as to why a camera dolly would be attractive to use. The biggest reason is that it can give you a dolly shot without breaking the bank. These systems are fairly cheap to buy and can help raise a production's value. They're also very easy and very quick to set up, which means that you can spend more time shooting with a smaller crew.
If you're shooting a production in an area that's far away from film equipment rental houses, then you should definitely consider this system. If something were to go wrong with a piece of ladder track or if you all of a sudden decided that you needed more, you could buy an additional ladder at a local hardware store. If you were using regular dolly track, then you would find yourself waiting for a delivery from a place that's a few hundred miles away.