Hello Dolly!

The Ansmm / Andoer Dolly (See amazing dolly shots with it at around 5 1/2 minutes into above video)

John Fraim

One of the realities of the modern world is that billions carry a sophisticated video camera with them everywhere. The camera is not just a camera but many things. Perhaps as many things as the apps on it. I’ve heard rumors that one can even make a phone call on them. One of the results of this is that we are given new views of life with videos from smartphones. These are not the family trips and endless shots of tourist places but rather anything from a Hollywood feature movie to live concerts, chance events and meetings, videos from video bloggers. The possibilities of endless as this is constantly revealed on YouTube and the more pro-stuff on Vimeo.

In all of this, the idea of a filmmaker has changed. Everyone who owns a smartphone has a video camera on it and many shoot video in 4k.it’s hard to see that the race for higher resolution from smartphone video cameras seems to be more or less important depending on the size/type on gets their filmed entertainment media on.

One of the real breakthroughs in smartphone video was with the software app offerings of FimicPro. For the first time, any person who had a smartphone could get access to many of the sophisticaed camera settings and movement usually available to only Hollywood film directors and cinematographers. In the March 2018 Variety, there was listed twelve movies shot with an iPhone. Perhaps the most well-known FimlicPro shot is film Tangerine here on Vimeo. Anyone truly wanting to explore smartphone fiilmmaking needs to start by putting Vilmic Pro onto their phone and learning its easy operations. Filmic Pro is the leading product of the most important player in the smartphone film business, Filmic.

We’ll be writing about Filmic in a future review. But to move on into the world of smartphone video. For many, it is becoming a viable alternative to shooting with a camcorder or SLR camera or other 4K camera. The footage shot with smartphones compares favorably with footage from Hollywood movies today. Not too many in Hollywood want to admit this but it has been one of those magic results from Silicon Valley. Putting video cameras with massive power in the hands of consumers. Giving video power to the masses and then providing ways to display it for free or small fees on the Internet. Today, it is becoming more of a choice to shoot with traditional cameras or use smartphones to shoot.

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One of the results of smartphones taking an increasingly important place in filmmaking, has  been a plethora of hardware and software apps to work with the smartphones in making films. Attaches to the powerful software app of Filmic Pro are companies that produce lens for smartphones. One can drastically alter the way that smartphones see the world by using various lens with the lens already on the smartphone. Or, attaching some of the microphones to smartphones or simply synching up in post prodcution to an a soundtrack recorded off-camera. In addition, there are a number of lights especially directded at smartphones. The apps for filmmakers on smart phones is hard to keep up with and perhaps someone will produce some type of update as there is so much going on in this area.

Certainly one of the large peripheral areas to smartphones is the area of stabilizing the shots of smartphones. This has been a perpetual problem in consumer videos and the video companies have worked to stabilize their cameras. Certainly the action cameras like GoPro played a significan leadership role in consumers being able to create clean, stalized videos with their developing of the action camera market  niche. The technology of in-camera stabilization is pretty much created  by all major digial camera compaies today. Some are better than others.


A Traditional Hollywood Camera Dolly Setup

But there is a growing market for devices that move the smartphone camera by electronic, remote control. In effect, footage from cameras on 4k drones can be mixed well with smartphone footage for spectacular effects smartphone/drone films. For reasons (not examined here) dolly shots of the camera constaintly moving is some type of cinematic style used by many today. On this new movement of the camera via (in effect) types of dolly shots, there has developed that new videography term of slidder, or a type of dolly device to put the smartphone on. One needs to consider that the smartphone busienss followed the Hollywood model that dealt with cameras a thousand times heavier than  smartphone.

The huge Chinese DJI was first to the table into the stabilization market, appying much of the technology they learned with their drone business to handheld smartphone stabilizers devices. Five years ago, I got one of their first handheld units but never couild figure out how to properly use it and returned it. Then, I got a small DJI handheld Osmo but found the screen to small and returned it. They get thigns right with the Osmo Mobil 3 and I’ll write about this in a future review.

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I guess that I really want to address not just a particular product. But perhaps – more direct – a particular scenes from movies I’ve seen all my life. All of have. It is the scene where the camera is moving in some direction. Up or down or left or right. Following along in a dolly shot. The camera can follow people and make shaking movements into steady video footage. Through using a through a three-axis system (partly based on AI as I’ve heard.) The latest hand stabilization technology for smartphones is the Osmo Mobile 3, a superb piece of smartphone filmmaking equipment, a worthy addition to a smartphone filmmaker’s arsenal.

Still, there was the question not of stabilizing the smartphone camera but of moving the smartphone. Not in one’s had, but rather on another device. Chinese companies were quick to meet the market by creating little motorized dollies for smartphone filmmakers. There developed a market on placed like Amazon with a number of players. A few years ago I got the Joy King dolly on Amazon ($40.00?) and used and loved it.

Kust a month ago (today) I boght the Annsm dolly for $69.00 on Amazon and it is one of the best purchased I have ever made. The beautiful construction and custom mdtal work look like something from Germany’s Leica. The craftsmanship is this spectavular. I charge Dolly up when I get her. She comes with three speeds and a remote control that can make her go forward of backward. Her wheels can be adjusted to go in any particular path one sets for them. (See shots taken with the Annsm/Andoer in video above at around 5 1/2 minute into the video.)

Annsm Pro 3-Wheels Wirelesss Pure Metal Frame Video Camera Auto Dolly

(Track Slider for DSLR Cameras Camcorders iPhone Gopro or Smart Phones with 3 Levels Speed Controlled by Remote Control Black)

A few of its incredible features:

  • Pure Aluminum Alloy Metal Frame and Body, Non-vibration when sliding with precise track design and rubber ring wheels;
  • Could be run either on flat and smooth surface (like table or floor) or camera video slider/Track for shooting; With precise track design and rubber ring wheels, it ensures smooth, stable sliding during shooting.
  • 3 level Speed adjustable and direction changeable when running, it helps to take perfect video or photography in different angles and distances.
  • Wheels adjustable can easily achieve either running straightly, curved or circle route.
  • A remote controller is designed to control these actions, super convenience in using

Anyway, reomote grounded carriers of smartphones, like the Annsum or others, will continue develop in the direction of the dual mixture of technology and pop/social medial popuarity. Will dolly shots be as popular in filmmaking of the future as it is right now with filmmakers?

The Annsm Dolly Just Hanging Out on My Desk

And I will keep the little Annsum Dolly in a special place in my heart. It is one of the few products I’ve ever owned that promised so far much more than its meager little $69 dollar price tag on Amazon. An entire smartphone film could (should) be made just using the brilliant little Annsm Dolly. She’s getting restless just sitting next to my wine glass.

It’s the type of device one can truly shout “Hello Dolly” into my smartphone filmmaking. A little machine that can do many dolly angles of filming. One of those few products I eagerly welcome to my cache of tech products today. An important little device in the kit of the modern smartphone filmmaker or artist.

Hello Dolly!


3 thoughts on “Hello Dolly!

  1. The development of technology is fascinating and mind-boggling to a person of my “much older” generation. It’s nothing short of amazing! My only concern over the fact that virtually every citizen can be a movie-maker of sorts on his/her own, will “real” life become an endless plethora of fabricated and manipulated videos? Even today, with things as they currently are, it’s nearly impossible to separate legitimate news from fake news. Probably not, but …

    1. Very true Gary. I’m not arguing that it’s necessarily a good thing for every citizen to be a filmmaker. Rather, this is simply the way it is. Yes, I agree that there is an endless parade of some worthless stuff on video sites. But there is some real beautiful stuff on channels like Vimeo where you can see stuff far above the rest of the common videos. I’ve seen some beautiful short documenary films that one would never see in a movie theater or on television.

  2. Very, very interesting and makes me wonder what next will happen in the film making industry with this invention, and others coming on the market. I think of past generations and wonder if they could see our world now and all that has changed with the progress of inventions, new tech, etc. would they think it is witchcraft?? Remember back in time
    when you have read about people seeing new things and being afraid. How I wonder what comes next? Will this be used for good intertainment or some use it for bad? We never know, it is amazing John. Thanks for sharing. Barbara

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