Glidetrack

Overview

We’ve had our Glidetrack Pro for over 1 year now and it’s quickly proven itself to be one of my favourite bits of kit.

It requires almost zero setup time and allows you to do some funky little things. That said it’s not without certain disadvantages but in my opinion it’s the best lightweight solution I’ve used.

The first place we had it was in the studio for four weeks shooting the non-award winning James May’s Man Lab, Series 1. Essentially it’s a rail and where it’s at it’s easiest to use is on flat surfaces or mounted across two tripods. In over a year of usage I’ve never actually mounted it across two tripods as I’ve never had cause to although in the right circumstances it would be perfect, shooting drama for example.

As a DoP I hate ‘faffing’, equipment for me should be simple and fast so I can concentrate on what’s more important ‚Äì lighting. Trust me when I say no one has ever uttered the words, ‘I loved that fourth shot from scene 16, great pan, we must hire that DP’.

Initially it’s a little unusual to use as the slider runs on polymer bearings that resist your movement. You quickly get the hang of it though and your camera moves are far more definite than a Wally Dolly for example, it looks almost automated.*

The greatest trick we worked out was that we could elevate it across two flight cases which quickly led to us discovering an even greater trick. You can elevate it across two different sized flight cases and still level the tripod head. Put simply you can track and change height.

The production office actually thought we’d had a jib on set as we slowly tested the limits of the track angle. It’s limited to about 35 degrees, although I never measured it, ( despite having an app for that ), but depending on the nature of your shot it can feel more dramatic or less. Beyond that you could go further if you were happy going ‘Dutch’

When it was first released the end-rails came with stick-on rubber feet which we knocked off within two days. I called Alistair at Glidetrack almost immediately and he was great, listening to my suggestions and revealing they were already working on a better solution. He has very kindly re-engineered our end-rails since with a more permanent fix. It may sound trivial but the feet are crucial as the track does tend to slide mid-movement on flat smooth surfaces.

The second big test for it was out on location so we took it to Turkey. The Glidetrack comes in multiple sizes and we’d opted for a midsize one when we bought ours purely so it would fit in a van. I think it’s a good size if only because it packs nicely into the Transporter. It certainly makes it portable enough to fly at 1.5m.

It was met with some suspicion once we arrived at Antalya but after immigration had accepted it wasn’t a gun-rail they stamped our passports. The beauty of traveling with the Glidetrack is that it requires minimal assembly and is usable within 4 bolts, ( although customs somehow conspired to lose one on our return! )

Here’s the thing. Once inside Antalya’s old town wandering through the narrow cobbled streets and shooting GV’s we actually carried the track as well as the tripod. Instead of racing through these beautiful places on a no-budget/no-time schedule aknocking off static GV’s, we were stopping and shooting quick simple tracking shots with virtually no setup time.

You know exactly how valuable those shots are to a production battling with budget. It’s one of the things I’m constantly repeating to clients. Imagination doesn’t cost extra and this is an example of where that absolutely rings true.

One of the evenings in Turkey having dragged myself out of the pool to shoot more GV’s, ( B-roll if you prefer ), I did encounter one quirk. At first I suspected the rail had been bent or the slider had been knocked as it kept on ‘grabbing’ mid-movement. It was a damp evening and I also thought it may have been dew causing the problem. The shots were proving unusable but after grappling with it and cussing for a good 20minutes it finally occurred to me the problem lay with one missing foot.

If the end-rails aren’t sat flush it does cause the aluminium rail to twist which means the slider doesn’t run smooth. Having come from the studio it simply wasn’t something I’d encountered. Fortunately when it did happen I was lucky enough to be on my own without a client standing over me wondering exactly why they were paying for this particular piece of kit?

All in all the Glidetrack is a great piece of kit and due to its portability can be used in some pretty imaginative ways.

Best of all it’s inexpensive.

4.5 stars from 5 if you ask me

*Have a quick look here to get a sense of how the Glidetrack moves

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.