This has to be the piece of gear that I talked the most about without ever showing it up. Until now!
What is a slider?
Of all the gear you can add to your video tool box, a slider is probably the one that will add the most production value to your clips. Notice how the camera rarely stands still in a movie? Even in static scene, it keeps moving slowly from the left to right or from the front to the back (or inverse).
This is the work of a sliders or a dolly. Here is a quick clip to give you an idea of what it does.
Sliding is not the same thing as panning. Panning is done by rotating around a center point while sliding moves the camera along an axis. Also, panning is associated (most often) to cheap camera work while sliding is associated to dollies and expensive shots.
Why use a slider?
As stated above, sliding motions are associated to pro movies so if you add a few of these shots in your clip, it will increase its production value. They also add a special kick to your clip by adding a dynamic element to the shot.
Of all the DIY projects, this one has to be the easiest ever! To make a 1m slider, you need to order two pieces and drill a hole. That is all!
The two pieces you need to order from Igus are:
- WW-16-60-10 DRYLIN W CARRIA
- WS-16-60 DRYLIN W RAIL
They cost about 150CAN$ and can be shipped either from US or Canada (to save custom). Just contact Kevin by mail ( email@example.com) or visit their website.
Once you receive the two pieces, drill a hole in center of the sliding platform to screw your fluid head and install the rails on the tripod.
Voila, you are done! The technology used by Igus does not require lubricant but you might want to use some if you are having trouble getting perfectly smooth shots. I never had issue with it but my friend did, so it is up to you. Using no lubricant means one less thing to carry in your bag (and forget) and also that it wont get dirty.
The reason my rails is still not installed on my tripod (yet) is that, after some experiment, I realized that I needed a new tripod. While I love my Manfrotto 190CXPRO, it is hard to adjust the legs to be perfectly parallel to the ground. This is usually not an issue when shooting stills since I can fix the horizon with the ball head. Unfortunately, to use the slider properly, the rails needs to be perfectly parallel to the ground, which makes it is a much bigger issue.
The solution is to get a bowl tripod. These are mostly used in the video world but are also useful for stills. I haven’t set my mind on which one to get yet, but the 350SHMVB Mini and the Manfrotto 535 seems to be good choices for HDSLR. A good idea is to buy a spare Half Ball Leveler so you can keep one on the slider and another on your tripod head.
Until I figure out which tripod I want, my slider will stay on its wooden legs!
Pushing it further
Igus parts are not design to create 1m long sliders. Their stuff is used to make huge track systems. This is why it is possible to assemble a few tracks together and create one huge and long slider. Any fans of Lego would be delighted at the prospect of creating one huge track!
If you want to take the easy road, you can order a slider from Indi Rails. They have various configuration starting at 99$. I have not tested it yet so I can’t comment on its built quality or smoothness.
Order you pieces right away! In the upcoming weeks, I am going to post a few tips on how to get the best results from a slider. I have made enough mistake with these to know a thing of two about them. Stay tuned!