The latest Flyka electric tracking vehicle arrives – smooth, silent and slim, built around Steadicam and the focus-puller
Posted on May 22, 2015 by Alex Fice
Tracking Team GB sprinters with Flyka
Flyka has officially launched its tenth Flyka electric tracking vehicle for the film and television industries. Designed by Tony Holker, the Flyka is the culmination of several years of R&D and live trials.
Tony explains: “There is a huge demand in our industry for tracking vehicles and it’s surprising how few companies specialise in this field considering the dynamics that a tracking shot offers, and when the moving camera is so integral to added production values. I realised that there were almost no electrically powered dollies slim enough to fit through doorways or narrow pathways, so I decided to design and build a prototype to see if the concept worked. I was able to start renting the fifth model and made improvements from feedback from Steadicam operators and DPs along the way. This tenth model marks a very significant step forward as we have increased the speed from 12mph to over 25mph with even more controllability.”
“Flyka offers different tracking solutions to other moving vehicles in use today. Quad bikes, rickshaws and Segways all have a firm place in the industry and Flyka offers different options where the others may be too wide, too noisy, too slow, or the tracking shot is too long to rely on a grip tirelessly pulling a rickshaw.”
Alf Tramontin, DoP and Steadicam Operator on Gravity, Troy, Harry Potter said: “I was very impressed from the start. The crew had me rigged in minutes and only had my best interests and comfort in mind. Re-set times were instant and the smoothness of take off and stopping was very gentle indeed. A very impressive bit of kit!”
Roger Tooley, DoP and Steadicam operator on Shaun of the Dead, Eastern Promises: “Using The Flyka was a painless experience. Set-up was flexible, quick, and the machine is silent in operation; a great way to shoot running shots, with or without dialogue. Acceleration is impressive and so smooth that shooting from a standing start to high speed works well.”
The Flyka dolly (it’s pronounced ‘Fly-kar’) will fit through narrow spaces; up pavements, between lamp posts, into parks, down corridors and narrow alleyways. The electric motors and batteries are very high spec and cutting edge technology, so are very quiet if recording sound, with no jolts from pick-up and acceleration matching an ATV.
Tony again: “The main concept behind this vehicle was for it to be totally designed around the Steadicam operator in camera positions, comfort and safety. Vest-mounting and hard-mounting offer different solutions depending on the shot, and getting the camera very low is an easy task without the operator hanging off the back of a higher tracking equivalent. Step on/off, front, rear and sides, adds to the versatility of the platform. Couple this with positioning your focus-puller on-board too and you can see why it has some attractive advantages in getting the shot quickly and easily. The dolly comes with a Klassen hard-mount for Steadicam, which offers extra fine tuning in balancing the camera.
Almost all the shoots require fully-rigged Steadicam or isolators, but I think it is only a matter of time before some of the lower budget film-makers using MōVI style rigs can see Flyka as a very affordable tracking option that lends itself well to pass offs in tight, urban spaces.
The DoP often rides along with a hard-mounted monitor and is able to make decisions ‘on the fly’, then we watch playback with the Director, taking any notes or getting final approval. Nobody needs to rest, so shooting is quick, effective and efficient.”
“Flyka is mainly used in features, dramas, commercials and music videos and is fast enough to keep up with bikes, motorcycles, cars and even Olympic athletes.
Tracking shots are not all about speed. Much of our shooting is short-run shots, where quads may be too aggressive and rickshaws not fast enough. We can also reproduce nice and easy track and dolly type shots at very slow speeds, adding production values to the shot and without time spent laying track, with no track coming into frame on rear facing shots. Simple, but effective.
Flyka with Roger Tooley and Steadicam shooting ITV drama
The vehicle can also be used to reposition cameras from one place to another, certainly on sporting or OB events, and its slim design means that it can get places swiftly and pass risk assessment without issues.”
David Crute, DoP and Steadicam operator on BBC HD, National Geographic, Sky, and Discovery: “Flyka accelerates and decelerates on a very smooth curve and as an operator, it’s brilliant, because your shots are bang on every time. Tony totally understands the Steadicam and what its capabilities are, and what the operator needs.”
Tony concluded: “Flyka will save you time, and when you start saving time you’re saving money.”
Flyka Ltd is the company set up by Tony Holker to bring the Flyka electric tracking vehicle to market. Flyka is a silent, controllable and smooth, electric tracking vehicle that offers a modular design, to fit around camera operator, follow-focus, sound and DoP. Its versatility and narrow footprint offer new options to long tracking shots in tight spaces, making this platform another useful tool for cinematography, TV drama and programme making at an affordable cost and quick rig time. Current plans are to offer the Flyka on a rental basis, where the vehicle comes with the rigger/operator.