Dutch heads are awesome. So are their resulting dutch angles and camera moves. The downside is that they’re expensive to buy ($7K or more for the really high end models) and not always stocked in every local rental house. Granted, they’re far less expensive for lighter weight cameras like DSLRs, P2 cameras, and HDV prosumer cams – but still the price point vs. the frequency of use still might keep people away from purchasing a lower end dutch head.
I recently picked up the Kessler Kwik Utility Plate for the purposes of getting lower profile shots with my slider (I’m currently using the 100mm ball high hat for the slider which raises the camera up significantly combined with the tripod head). However, after doing the vertical roll camera gag for the Riff Raff music video, I realized that by changing the horizontal orientation by 90° that I should be able to perform dutch camera moves with my standard tripod.
For smaller cameras, you can probably omit the intermediary quick release plate and simply mount the camera 90° offset on the horizontal axis of your tripod head. I simply wanted a little more grip since my RED Epic camera rig clocks in at a relatively substantial weight when fully loaded and using the Red Pro Primes. This worked out well on the most recent music video I shot. For the music video, I knew I didn’t want any panning of the camera – so I locked that axis off and focused on the dolly move combined with the dutch moves. *Note – Production stills coming soon
To confirm, this is not a full substitution for a dutch head but rather a very low cost way of achieving some dutch camera moves. Leveling adjustment in this configuration is less than ideal and will be a bit awkward compared to what you’re used to. It doesn’t take long but it’s less intuitive compared to the regular procedure – this is mainly because you’re losing your tilt axis to create a roll axis. To do that, you pretty much need to find the tilt angle that you want for the shot and commit to it with your tripod’s leveling.
Here is a clip of what was shot and the camera moves produced. The camera was on a skater dolly trucking forward and backward throughout playback.
[INSERT CLIP OF DUTCH/DOLLY COMBO MOVE]
The final video that was created in part by using this technique can be seen here:
If you have a need for a camera move like this but don’t have the funds or access to a dutch head – give it a try.