Unlike other time lapse dollies I have looked at, the Shukuma DOLLY and Shukuma MINI are seriously simple to set up. The trick being that the units can mount on tripods or anything that can take a standard tripod mount, anywhere under the dolly, NOT only at one or two points on the dolly… This is a major advantage when you are out in the bush, shooting between the rocks and brush. It’s difficult to understand how big an advantage this is until you get stuck somewhere, where you can’t put a tripod down evenly! And because the build quility of the rig is decent, you can actually mount it anywhere without worrying too much about warps and bends. The track remains solid and alligned.
The Shukuma can be extended almost as far as you can possibly imagine, giving you a lot of leverage in designing your shots. Again, not something many dollies out there can do. For the professional film makers, this is a serious advantage… Couple that to the fact that the motorized dolly will go at pretty much any angle and even happily work up to 90 degrees straight up, you can see why the opportunities really are endless. Couple it up to a Merlin Telescope head, and, and, and… But I digress…
Once your dolly is set up on the tripods and the camera is mounted, you can program the unit for time per shot, movement between shots, total distance to travel, etc. That makes any shot repeatable . Super simple.
Set your exposures, switch of AF and auto WB and you are ready to go! It really can’t be simpler. For these, we used a Nikon D300s and Nikon D700 with an older manual lens (a 20mm f/2.8 for full aperture control between shots) and 3 stop B+W ND filter.
The small video we created took about 3 hours (or two Savannas and three coffees) to shoot and consists of about 800 images. Edited together on a Mac with After Effects and Lightroom and LR Timelapse for adjustments. There are some more software out there to do various things with your final product (ramping exposures, colour grading the video, etc) – Just by the by… You can also manually “ramp” with the SMC (Shukuma Motion Controller) unit.
Keep in mind that you are going to need a pretty decent computer to put these together if you want to process more than one clip per day. Unfortunately, that is just part of the game, but boy is it fun to create something other people really cannot. You can fake some of it, but not all of it, and you immediately see the difference!
The other Dolly we used, the “Shukuma MINI”, for the Behind the scenes shot, is just a smaller version of the Shukuma DOLLY. It’s a bit cheaper and smaller to carry around, but just as functional. Although not extendable, I can see myself investing in one of these!
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