Hardware International

Magazine Article Review

In 1977, Jerry Johnson was producing a film on location in Ireland and needed a dolly shot, so he improvised a makeshift system which worked surprisingly well. Nineteen years later, in 1996, he introduced a lightweight portable version of his invention to the broadcast industry. Today, there are thousands of MICRODOLLY users around the world.

Johnson is Founder and CEO of MICRODOLLY HOLLYWOOD and has worked as a producer/director in the film and broadcast industry for more than 40 years. His resume includes series like Ripley's Believe It Or Not and The Explorers. In Hollywood, after he "retired", Johnson began refining his Dolly system. During the design process, Johnson relied heavily on the aerospace industry for both materials and manufacturing techniques. Specifically, the system needed to not only be portable, but durable, ultra-lightweight, water resistant, and small enough to fit in an airplane's overhead compartment. He also made sure the Dolly and Track remained user-friendly for smaller crews. The main priority, however, was "totally smooth, professional shots, regardless of terrain", according to Johnson. "If you can walk on it, you can shoot on it with Microdolly."

Johnson continues to draw on his extensive production experience - as well as customer requests - to create innovative accessories that address the needs of on-location productions. The MICRODOLLY Baby Tripod, for low-angle dolly shots, will raise a camera from seven to 21 inches (18 to 53cm). The Dolly Push Bar allows the Dolly to be pushed by someone other than the camera operator, while the Dolly Platform provides a place for videographers to store needed items under the camera during shooting.

Other accessories include Dolly Studio Wheels for off-track use on smooth surfaces, a Tripod Tie-Down Kit for attaching a tripod to the Dolly quickly and safely, and a Cable Puller to hold cables away from the Dolly wheels.

Another big success for MICRODOLLY has been the introduction of the MICRODOLLY Jib Arm Crane. Johnson estimated nearly half the dolly units sold now are being purchased with the Jib as well. True to MICRODOLLY design standards, the Jib and its Soft Case weigh less than 12 lbs (5.2kg) and can carry cameras up to 50 lbs (22.5kg). It can extend from 33 inches to 52 inches (1.8m). It will also support up to three optional extensions, which can extend the reach to 12 feet (3.8m). Counterweights are not a problem: an optional Weight Cage folds flat to travel and comes with a collapsible water jug. Shooters can use anything for counterweight, from rocks to water.

"Unique to the MICRODOLLY Jib System, is the auto-tilt feature", said Johnson. "Historically, jib arm cranes are not able to control camera tilt unless motor or cable driven heads are added. We designed our Jib to automatically adjust the tilt of the camera plate to a preset angle as the boom arm moves up or down." Johnson continued, "It's built into the system and brings a whole new dimension to the kind of shots that you can achieve".

By design, the ultra-light, precision-built MICRODOLLY HOLLYWOOD camera Support Systems offer industry professionals cost-effective equipment that will substantially increase production value.


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