Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California




Doggicam Systems owner
Gary Thieltges said he misses his
25 years of going on location as a
cinematographer and “seeing the
friendly faces of crew members,”
but he doesn’t miss getting up at
four in the morning for those early
shoots. Yet he and his team clocked
in the long hours prepping to roll
out two new products at CineGear
Expo last month: the Power Slide
and the Sparrow Head 3.
The former, a lightweight dolly
system that lets a camera run along
a rail of between four and 64 feet,
allows cameras to be mounted
to cars, overhead grids and other
moving or stable objects. Using
it, a cinematographer can run a
camera with a wireless remote and
create the types of shots that track,
for example, from a car’s logo,
along the side of the car, ending
on the driver. The Power Slide features
rails made from honeycomb
aluminum and carbon fiber that
are light enough for rigging but
rigid enough to be self-supporting
and cantilevered.
Thieltges first gained attention
when he introduced Doggicam
in 1996, a system that captures
extreme low angles offering a
dog’s-eye view on the world. It was
used for the famous Taco Bell
Chihuahua commercials, as well
as Nike spots, and has been used
for floor level-shots of babies in
other commercials. The company
received a patent for originating
the use of side mounting points,
which allow a camera to be affixed
using lightweight, rigid mounts—
a previously unachievable result,
according to Thieltges.
“I get a tremendous sense of
satisfaction when cameramen
or directors contact me, excited
about the work that they were
able to do with the equipment,”
said Thieltges, who retired from
shooting around three years ago.
“I’ve been in their shoes and not
had the tools [I needed] to be able
to achieve the shot I wanted.”
Users of the company’s products
are keen to put the new gear
to work. Michael St. Hilaire,
2nd unit DP on 2 Fast 2 Furious,
used Doggicam’s earlier version
of Sparrow Head for fast-moving
shots. “It’s lightweight and compact
and we could get it into spots
that you could not get a cameraman,”
St. Hilaire said. “We were
able to shoot out the front window
and then whip around and shoot
out the back window because of
the weight and its [compact size.]”
The cinematographer is eager
to use the new Power Slide for
gliding through small spaces. The
remote will let him avoid taking
shots from “perilous places,” like
the times he’s filmed from the
hood of a moving car, he said.
The latest Sparrow Head 3 is
the lightest three-axis remote head
on the market, and can be operated
with hand wheels or a joystick
control, according to Thieltges.
Designed especially for car mounts,
cranes and wireless uses, it weighs
in at 27 lbs without a camera.
Anticipating the upgraded
Sparrow Head 3, camera assistant
Mark Williams, who’s shot
numerous car commercials with
the previous Sparrow Head, says
“Sometimes you really need that
third axis to level yourself out or
find that third angle.”
Other innovative Doggicam
products include the Bodymount,
which allows a camera to be
mounted onto a person being
photographed. It’s been worn by
celebrities such as Mick Jagger,
Lenny Kravitz, Eminem and
Tom Cruise.

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