Erich Fitz has established his company for the rental of cinematographic equipment. His customers request a dolly easier in handling than those available on the market, a dolly, which can be used on asphalt as well as on tracks. Thus the light-weight dolly is being designed featuring low weight and the possibility to be disassembled for the purpose of transportation.
For the light-weight dolly a track system is being developed. The main features of the tube tracks are their robustness and easy handling. They are available up to 2.3 m length and as 1/8 curves with a diameter of 6 m. The tracks are compatible to Elemack tracks.
Customers wish to have a dolly, where they can sit beside the camera on a lifting column. The prototype of a column dolly is built. In addition to a comfortable seat on top of the lifting column this dolly gives the cameraman the opportunity to move up and down during shooting. In contrast to a conventional hydraulic system an electro-mechanical drive was chosen. The electrical motor, driving a lifting spindle and a column by means of a V-belt, achieves the goal of a smooth run.
The initial problems of the prototype are removed and the dolly is completely revised until it is ready to go into series. A new column guide has been developed and patented. Here the guide rolls are positioned parallel to the column (not crosswise) thus supporting the column by means of a guide rail. This is the only way how large guide rolls (for stability) can be combined with small column dimensions (compact, light). This is the first dolly called Panther.
The Panther Dolly has been established on the German market. Many cameramen, however, request higher flexibility with regard to the dolly, which leads to the development of the light-weight jib. The light-weight jib features a compact size and enables the cameraman to move also outside the central column. A smart detail: for adjusting the weight compensation a spindle is being used, which varies the distance between counter weights and swivel in a way that the light-weight jib can be “cranked into balance” – easier and time-saving set-up.
Germany’s cameramen feel so comfortable on the Panther dolly, that their assistants wish to “have a ride” together with the cameraman, too. For this purpose the turnstile of the Panther dolly is extended and equipped with a second seat holder. To ensure that the drive can handle this additional load a total of 4 pneumatic springs of 700 N each (before 2 pieces) has been integrated. This modification is convincing and simple at the same time. From now on only the Super Panther Dolly is being demanded.
In order to allow more freedom during dolly tracking, the U-Bangi has been designed. For moving this outrigger which is supported with ball bearings enabling also drives at right angle to the tracks. This innovation is e.g. used for table top shootings.
In the same year a connection kit for the light-weight jib becomes available. A rod or a rope connects the light-weight jib with the dolly and its column. The column lift is directly transferred to the light-weight jib enabling programmed camera drives with the light-weight jib. A nice side effect: the camera lift and its speed are doubled.
The advantages of the light-weight jib connection kit are so evident that it does not take long until a higher payload and more comfort are being requested and the Super Jib is developed. The Super Jib combines all advantages of a computer-controlled Jib-arm drive with the benefits of a mobile platform for the cameraman. From this point 95 % of all Panther dollies ordered are equipped with the Super Jib and dollies already in use are upgraded.
For a better and more practical service of the Panther dollies the drive system is changed from analog to digital technology (digital electronics) – the Super Panther II is born. Apart from easier service works, also the reliability can be increased.
Profound market research and long-term rental experience led to the development of the Pegasus Crane System. With this camera crane the advantages of the camera cranes Tulip and Cine Jib have been combined in one crane system.
A new patent is given for the Pegasus: the crane arm can be extended at two sides with only one extension. This way a larger platform height can be achieved without increasing the number of counter weights.
The Pegasus crane sets new standards with regard to compact size, easy handling, platform height and safety. The Pegasus crane is the first crane world-wide to receive a safety certificate from the TÜV (Association for Technical Inspection).
In order to offer an inexpensive alternative to the Super Panther Dolly the Mini Panther has been developed. This dolly is equipped with the patented column of his big brother and a smaller version of the digital electronic. The motor is smaller and therefore offers no possibility for the cameraman to go along.
Special feature: globally the Mini Panther is the first, separable column dolly. By removing the column the base dolly and the lifting column can be used separately.
To close the gap between light-weight dolly and Mini Panther the Pick-up Panther is constructed. With a compact size he offers a platform, which can be used on tracks as well as on studio floor without any change required. The integrated 2-wheel (steer) and 4-wheel (crab) steering allows for the necessary liberty of action on narrow space. Due to the smart arrangement of the combi wheels the Pick-up Panther can be used for the 62 cm standard track as well as for the narrow track of 49 cm by means of a 90° rotation.
The necessity of fast camera movement leads to the development of the Super Panther III. A new digital electronic as well as the adjustment of the drive system with 48V allows this dolly to run at double lifting speed and a special Super Jib operation increases the operating comfort and sets new standards. Most of the older dollies are being modified and upgraded to this state.
The current market situation shows the requirement of a Super Jib, which can also accommodate two persons on the lifting platform. Additionally many grips state that for some kinds of shootings in studios the Pegasus crane system is too large. Therefore Panther solves both problems by designing the Super Jib II, which can carry two persons in combination with the Super Panther dolly. Its modular system is designed in a way that additional outriggers can be mounted if required – this way the Super Jib II can be used as a platform or remote crane up to 4.5 m height.
The usual track available on the market does not meet Panther’s high requirements for the use of dollies and cranes. Therefore Panther decides to promote and sell the Precision Vario Track. This track is suitable for various gauges, possesses high rigidity (I-beam) and is very versatile (e.g. foldable telescope track). In particular the transition from one track to the next is highly precise and unmatched up to that time.
The U-Bangi is completely redesigned resulting the new U-Bangi II. Its users are impressed by an integrated swivel, higher stability despite lower weight and the necessary silent running.
At the same time also the U-Bangi Lifter is designed, a completely new kind of camera lifting system, which receives a patent right away. The U-Bangi slide is mounted at the lifter. By means of a steel cable the ends of which are fastened at the U-Bangi, the tracks of the U-Bangi are being moved vertically. This way a 100 % vertical camera movement can be achieved (without “banana effect” of jib arms), while simultaneously lifting and speed are doubled.
In order to cover further market requirements Panther purchases the product line of the Swiss company Cinerent Technik AG and starts selling the Cine Jib and the Swiss Jib crane. The Swiss Jib, the first remote crane globally made of carbon fiber reaches the enormous outrigger length of 13 m (42.5ft.) at very low weight due to its material.
Valuable input from cinematographers as well as many years of experience from Panther side result in the development of the Evolution Dolly. In order to realize the variety of ideas a completely new dolly needs to be designed. More than fifty suggestions and improvements are being integrated into the Evolution, such as transport weight reduced to 96 kg (210lbs), crab- and steer-steering, new drive system with safety switch and brushless motor, high speed mode, software-supported operating display, etc.
The Precision Vario Tracks are further improved and introduced to the market as MK II. Special features: sturdy vario sleepers, cured surface, end caps made of steel, self-adjusting turnbuckles, practice-oriented lengths.
With the Foxy Crane System the gap between the Super Jib II System and the Pegasus crane is being closed and a new standard in the area of compact cranes is set. With only 178 kg (392lbs) weight the Foxy can reach a remote height of 7.3 m or a platform height of 4.7 m. The experts in the field, however, are in particular amazed about the crane column (patent pending), the pyramid, which offers space for all crane elements. The complete crane can be transported, set-up and dismantled by one person only.
In the year of the millennium Panther introduces a variety of products to the customers. The range of the Precision Vario Track is expanded by the 3m circle, so that also with little space available circle drives finally become possible. The High-Low Rig for the Evolution and the Super Panther convinces due to increased payload and variable, rotary and height adjustment in high and low position. The first series was quickly sold out during the CINEC exhibition. The operators of the Vario Jib are pleased about the low weight and easy handling. The telescopic arm length of 1m – 1.6m can be increased to 2.6m with an extension. In combination with the Multi Rig the camera mounted can be adjusted in 3 axes.
The product highlight is the completely newly constructed Galaxy Crane. With regard to operating comfort, stability, easy handling and safety this longest remote crane (17.3m/57 ft.) in this compact construction sets a new standard. All outriggers have the same length and have been optimized with regard to practical requirements. Reinforced connection plates can be dismantled without getting jammed. Based upon the same-parts-principle of outrigger, pull rod and anchor plate the set-up becomes easier.
Panther Broadcast is founded and a completely new range of products is launched in the same year. Top of the line glides the Pixy Crane which can be extended from a small jib arm to an 11m crane depending on the customers budget and needs.
Two new compact dollies are introduced: the foldable Husky Dolly which is engineered in such an ingenious way that it can serve as a transport cart for camera cases when folded. The so called Roller Plate is specially developed for news crews so that they don’t have to do without camera moves. The aluminum platform weighs in at a mere 7 kg and comes with all standard mounts. Paired with a second roller plate it can handle cameraman plus tripod.
The Romy light – an on board camera light which has already been most successful worldwide for 10 years – is now manufactured and sold by Panther Broadcast.
New Precision Steel Tracks and the Wall Spreader Spanning System complete the product boost in 2002.
The price policy within the movie branch causes the demand for a fully-fledged, but cost-efficient dolly. So the Panther Classic Dolly is introduced as little brother of the established Evolution Dolly and immediately becomes a bestseller. Delivery times of several months could unfortunately not be avoided during its first year of production. The Classic convinces users with its simple, but robust technology and a very good price-performance ratio.
For detailed close-up shots the macro-plate is the perfect tool to exactly position or traverse the camera during the shot. Combined with Fluid or Gear heads the product is particularly suitable for commercial shots.
The Cable Head offers a cost-efficient alternative to conventional remote heads. With its Teflon-coated cable controls smooth camera moves can be carried out even in the face of extreme weather conditions, since this ingeniously simple remote solution works without electrical power.
The Multi Mount has three vacuum suction pads and offers the possibility to mount a camera on difficult surfaces such as e.g. a car or a window pane. The stability of the suction pads and the connecting elements even allows to mount a remote head.
The Colibry tripod serves as camera stabilization system. It absorbs the movements of the cameraman and enables jerk-free shots. This year’s product highlight is the portfolio of Fluid Heads and Tripods introduced during the IBC. Both, the T4 and the T6 cover the area of compact DV cameras. The T10 has been developed for standard ENG cameras. For EFP or 16 and 35 mm the T45 is available. Finally the 3-axes head L40 with its modular design rounds off the portfolio. The figures in the product name refer to the corresponding weight class. The “star” of this product family of light-weight, fluid-damped swivel/tilt-heads is the Panther Fluid Head X15 combining the best of two design philosophies:
Weight balancing: continuous without limitation of the tilt angle
“Step&Spin” damping system: continuous and step by step
The new developed Foxy Advanced crane has a total boom length of 14 meter/46 ft. – so again, a length ahead of its competitors.
The X15 Fluid Head is awarded with “DIL Award” as best camera support of the year.
The advantages of the Pick Up Dolly (2-wheel/4-Wheel steering) and the Mini Base (universal Dolly) are combined in the new Buddy Dolly. It takes the place of both products.
The Evo Plus is the consequent development of the Evolution Dolly. It offers a robust crab and steer mechanism and a reliable electronics.
Worldwide customers of the popular Foxy Crane are asking for more payload and even more hight. Panther´s answer is the Foxy Advanced Crane System.
During Cinec 2006 the Foxy Advanced crane is awarded with the Cinec Award.
The Trixy Remote Head goes now into series production after it has been presented as a prototype in 2007. The first time, a Remote Head in the mid price range offers 3 axis with slip rings. Separate lens motors makes this BC Head also suitable for film.
The Twister Dolly convinces at a glance the professionals. It offers innovative ergonomics with its unique stage platform and combined wheels with 3 steering modes (front / rear / round-a-round).
During Cinec 2008 the Twister Dolly is nominated for the Cinec Award.
The patented High Low Turnstile is a game-changing innovation which gives more flexibility to the dolly and saves time on set.
The highest model of Panther dolly fleet is the Tristar Dolly. Camera hight is lower compared to a scissor dolly due to its unique 3-stage column. An integrated HighLowTurnstile and a new platform system makes this top model attractive.
The battery operated VacuRigg makes driving shots safe due to an automatic pump system. Innovative tube clamps are suitable for different tube diameters and boosts flexibility.
Three Products in one- the JibGlider. A Slider converts on tripods to a Glider and with the Jib kit to a Jibarm.
Detailed improvements for the PixyPlus camera crane like precision bearings making pan movements easier.
ClassicPlus Dolly is filling up the gap between Classic and Tristar dolly. This successor gathered knowhow for 30 years.
6 product categories are combined in the FlexGripKit system. Most innovative are ball wheels which enables the “freestyle” steering in table dolly mode.
P1 Dolly follows the trend of inexpensive and lightweight cameras and sets a new standard for dollies. Its Column is compact in size (20x20cm/8×8´´) and extremely low in weight (29kg/65lbs).
The electric drive concept was adopted from Panther Classic Dolly, despite that P1 costs only Eur. 4.995,-.
Catwheel Dolly was especially designed for the upcoming DSLR user. It features an unique user concept and weighs only 6 kg/13lbs.