I love the organization that I see big-time AC’s using–always seem to know where everything is, even in a huge Arri bag–and the carts are a big part of that. It’s great to say “go get X from the A-camera cart” and know exactly what and where it is, not having to rummage through cases or bags that are lumped in a trunk or a table somewhere.
But a Magliner runs $250ish, and the nose pieces, shelves, etc. all start adding up very quickly. You can buy a fully-rigged camera cart from Filmtools for a pretty penny, which I would love to have, but A) don’t have the capital for, B) don’t have a consistent need for, and C) don’t have room in my apartment for. So! Until the day comes when I have more money, more work, and a house, I will continue to find work-arounds.
Whilst flipping through channels the other week, my wife paused on QVC (or HSN? Can’t remember) and we saw the Origami shelf advertised. Of course, they show really stupid things to do with it on those shows–things that are semi-permanent, paired with a shelf being sold because it is temporary–but the wife said “hey, that’d be cool for your camera stuff.”
The next few minutes, I thought more and more about it–folds down pretty small, big enough to support weight…and yeah, it did seem like a cool thing. I started researching, and discovered multiple sizes. I ultimately decided on the R4-01 which seemed like it would be big enough to hold several cases, and wide enough to support my hi-hat (which I usually have setup on a cart with a tripod head, for building/staging the camera.)
After a snafu with shipping (meaning they said they delivered it, but they did not–Amazon very graciously sent me a replacement free of charge and with upgraded one-day shipping) the R4-01 showed up and was exactly what I was expecting. After almost breaking it to open it (the clip for the top shelf had hooked around one of the bars in the middle shelf, and I forced when I shouldn’t have–thankfulky, everything bent back into place pretty easily) I set it up in my living room and found it to be much taller than I thought. I’m a tall guy, and the top shelf sat comfortably at my stomach level. Adding my hi-hat to the top put the camera up near my chest, and let me build at a very comfortable height. The shelves were wide enough to hold my AC bags and camera case, and the bottom shelves were even long enough to mostly cover my Steadicam cases.
I thought I would be cheap and buy my own wheels. Ultimately, I can’t speak to the quality of the casters from Amazon, and I don’t think I actually saved any money, but I built my own rolling platform to put the shelves on. I went with 2-1/2″ hard plastic casters from Home Depot–I wanted to get bigger wheels, perhaps even inflatables, but I was afraid (and rightfully so) that those would put the camera stage over my comfortable level.
After a week-long industrial shoot, I am really pleased with the results. It easily fit all the cases, and I added a bag to the side to hold my personal items. I’d love to have some hooks or bottle/can holders, but we’ll see what develops. I will say, though, that we were inside, on-location and in-studio, and it was awesome. My wheels–nay, any wheels less-than-inflatables–would not do very well on any ground that is less than smooth. That being said, if you don’t mind carrying the shelves around (they’re not terribly heavy) then you could definitely get away with moving around on rough terrain, provided you weren’t moving a heck of a lot.
So! A little ingenuity and repurposing can get you a neat camera cart of your own. Until the Magliners are cheaper, that is.
Update: After a pretty big boost from The Black and Blue (thanks, Evan!) I realised that I needed to update the post with some in-the-field pictures.