What’s a dolly, a crane, a jib and why on earth would I need a moy to boss adapter? What is moy and boss? Look no further if you want to get to know Grip equipment. This is the ultimate guide to Grip equipment and Grip terminology, part 1.
Please note this article was written by a Grip company based in the United Kingdom. Grip terminology may vary and hold different meaning in various locations around the world.
The most notable piece of equipment operated by the grip department is the ‘Dolly’. What is a camera Dolly? A camera dolly is a wheeled platform that a camera and operator can be mounted on. The dolly is then pushed or moved horizontally and can often jib vertically up and down. The dolly usually has the operator riding but also sometimes has a focus puller and operator riding. It is under the control of the key grip or the dolly Grip.
The dolly is used to help the director of photography achieve smooth horizontal movement on film and TV sets. Most common camera dollies also have the option of a vertical jib up and down. The director of photography can use these movements to help their visual storytelling. If you watch a film and analyse the shots, you will often see these smooth movements playing out on screen. 9 time out of 10 these movements are made on a dolly.
A dolly can either be pushed along dance floor or track. Dancefloor is made up of large wooden boards that are placed on the floor by the ‘Chippy’ an on-set carpenter. These dancefloor pieces are often laid and then covered by a thinner layer of wood, called ‘Skins’. The ‘skins’ cover up any bumps that may be created where the thicker boards below meet. Dancefloor is often used on fairly even surfaces. If the surface is uneven then the Grip may opt for track or to lay down larger platforms, with the help of a rigger, for the dancefloor to be laid on. If a sets floor is particularly smooth then a Grip may use the dolly straight on the floor. Newer dolly use methods may include utilising an isolation arm with gimbal mounted onto the dolly, this means that the dolly can be pushed along much more uneven surface. We will go into isolation arms later in the article.
The 2nd most common way dollies are used is on track. Track is usually aluminium or steel rods that are placed on runners and often come in lengths of 8ft, 6ft, 4ft and 2ft in the United States and United Kingdom with sizes slightly different and in metres in Europe. this track resembles that of train track. The track is then connected together to the length of the director of photography’s requirement and levelled off using a spirit level and woodwork. When levelling off a grip will use wooden wedges to gently lift or drop the height of the sleepers (runners) of the track so that the track is level. Sometimes a track will be levelled to the hill, this means the track is vertically going with the hill but horizontally level. When doing this a Grip must either secure the dolly with a pully system or make sure the dolly is not left un-manned on the track.
Paganini’s, apple boxes and wedges.
Grip woodwork generally consists of Paganini’s, apple boxes and wedges.
Paganini’s or pags for short are raised pieces that of wood that stack on top of one another, they generally come in stacks of certain sizes. Sizes may vary but usually a Grip will carry small, medium and large pags.
Apple boxes are commonplace on set and usually get used for various reasons, whether it to be to help raise large tracks, lay sliders on or for crew members bottoms to be sat on. The apple box is a necessity on set and often required from a Grip. Operators will use them to position themselves while in handheld mode, other crew members may ask to use them to stand on and reach things and 1st Ad’s and directors will often perch on them whilst shooting.
Wedges are short wooden offcuts used by Grips to help level off track. The angle of the cuts making them ‘wedges’, makes them perfect for adjustability. A common household version of a wedge is a ‘door wedge’. Grip’s wedges often come in different sizes. A grip may use a smaller ‘finger wedge’ for many purposes. One example is when an operator is sat on an apple box outside or on uneven ground, a grip will level off the box with a finger wedge. A good grip always carries at least 4 finger wedges in his or her pocket and if you’re nice to a ‘Chippy’ they might make them for you.
That’s it for part 1, check out our website for the rest of ‘The ultimate Grip equipment guide’. If you’d like to find out more information on the role of Grips in film and television then please check out our other website and other blog posts at www.kinetik.site.
This post was written for educational and informational purposes and does not at any point claim to be the official standpoint of Grips internationally or nationally on film and television sets. Grips around the world work in different ways and job roles may vary depending upon location.