Monday, December 27, 2010

Footage of the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly used during filming of The Rain People

One of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Coppola is seen here behind a Panavised Arriflex 2C and is also known to have a ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly.

Fellow SarKell member, Steven Bradford, discovered some awesome footage of the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly in action. This film footage is from the production of 'Filmmaker: A Diary' which is a documentary of Francis Ford Coppola that was produced/filmed by George Lucas.

In this footage, you'll see Mr. Coppola's ColorTran Mini-Crab being used during the time he was filming his movie, The Rain People. You'll see perfect footage showing how compact, nimble and swift the Mini-Crab is during film production.

It was told to me by the past president of ColorTran, that Mr. Coppola ordered a Mini-Crab Dolly soon after they became available. I'm planning to reach out to Mr. Coppola to find out more about his Mini-Crab and to invite him to become a member of the SarKell Society. More news to follow in a future posting.

Copy and paste this address in your browser to see the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly at work:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Meet Darryl Humber from Dollygrippery

Allow me to introduce a good friend of ours! Darryl Humber, or also known as "D".

Darryl is a professional working Dolly-Grip. Pictured here is Darryl next to his preferred machine, a state-of-the-art, Hustler IV by Chapman. The Hustler IV is made in the same facility as the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dollies were once manufactured. Chapman purchased the facility from ColorTran. This was taken just last week on the set of HBO's 'True Blood'. Click on this image to enlarge.

Darryl also hosts an awesome website for Dolly-Grips called Dollygrippery. The Dollygrippery site is the definitive site for professional Dolly-Grips. The site features awesome images and commentary from working Dolly-Grips straight out-of Hollywood and beyond.

If your just starting out in dolly-gripping or you're a seasoned would be to your advantage to visit Dollygrippery. You can learn the in's and out's of being a Dolly-Grip and follow-up on the newest state-of-the-art techniques and related grip equipment. You can visit Darryl and the other professional Dolly-Grippers at:

We also wish to thank Darryl as he was good enough to post a link to our ColorTran Mini-Crab Blog and SarKell Society on his website. We would also like to extend a warm welcome to all the visitors from Dollygrippery!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Market Value of a ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly

An illustration taken from the ColorTran Mini-Crab's owner's manual. This photo shows front and both sideboards attached, extra seat and miscellaneous head mounts. Click on this image to enlarge.

Many people have e-mailed me asking what one could expect to pay for a working ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly. After surveying the equipment houses and talking with my connections in production circles, I have gathered the following values. These figures are based on actual sales made over the past few years. These values don't reflect the occasional 'barn-finds' or private sales. 

The values below have been revised on 9/15/19. They are much lower than first posted. This is due to the fact that digital equipment (RED/4K, etc.) is becoming much more portable and the affordability of smaller-sized support equipment, i.e., Glidecam and Steadicam equipment has become more affordable.  

For instance, there's a Mini-Crab currently going (on-line) in the $2500.00 range. This is by no means 'cheap', but considering the cost of a used Sachtler Video-20 P fluid-head ($3K on eBay), the Mini-Crab Dolly is still a great bargain in the camera support category.

ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly Resale Values (revised 9/15/19) Dolly kits below must include the hydraulic pedestal and steering control.

  • Mint with carrying case and all accessories...........................$1700.00
  • Excellent condition, with some accessories...........................$1500.00
  • Good condition, fully operational...........................................$1200.00
  • Fair condition, fully operational...............................................$800.00
  • Poor condition, rolling but in need of an overhaul...................$400.00

Keep in mind there were only about 250 of the sophisticated Mini-Crab dollies made as compared to the less-advanced Elemack where production totals ran into the thousands.

It is in my humble opinion that inventor William Sargent of SarKell out-designed Mr. Sante Zelli's Elemack. I say this with confidence because I've used both, the Elemack (Spyder & Cricket) with Panavision cameras and the ColorTran with an older Arri-35BL-4 and a Mitchell SR35.

Granted, the Elemack out-sold the ColorTran Mini-Crab (quite possibly because Elemack listed at almost $2,000 less), but the way I look at it, back then, the Chevy Corvette also out-sold the Aston-Martin DB4. I'm not sure about you, but as for me, I would much rather be tooling behind a DB4 than a Vette any day!

Out of the roughly 250 Mini-Crabs that were originally built (nearly 50 years ago), it's been said, only about 75 to 100 complete dollies still exist. For me, that's one more reason owning a ColorTran Mini-Crab desirable...they're extremely rare!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do you have a Mini-Crab? We'd like to hear from you!

The ColorTran Mini-Crab is very compact. When we need to transport it, we pack it into a Mercury Mountaineer (need to remove the hydraulic lift, too heavy otherwise). We can then easily transport the Mini-Crab, Jib, and other equipment to the production location.
Yes, Mini-Crab #157 (here attached with a 12' Jib) has it's own parking space! If you are lucky enough to own a Mini-Crab...we would like to hear from you! Please e-mail us at and send us a few pictures and a brief story about your dolly.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy 80th Birthday to William Sargent!

Please join me in wishing William Sargent, the inventor/creator of our beloved Mini-Crab Dolly a very Happy Birthday! Mr. Sargent turned the big 80 this past Sunday, November 28th.


William Sargent (left) is seen here with his very good friend, Hal Hansen (right) at an airport near Salt Lake City. Both of these gentlemen were passengers in the Cessna Float-Plane you see behind them. This plane is owned by their mutual friend, a retired Delta airlines pilot. Click on this image to enlarge.

Mr. Sargent, we wish you very best wishes, good health and happiness to you and your most beautiful wife, Patti.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SarKell demonstrating the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly before a live audience

A very rare photo of team SarKell and the Mini-Crab Prototype. In these never before published photographs, the inventor of the ColorTran Mini-Crab Dolly, William Sargent (left) and his partner, Robert Kelljan (right) were demonstrating how easy it was to unpack and set-up the Mini-Crab Dolly. These were taken at the SMPTE show in Downtown Los Angeles in the early 1960's.
Now, with the hydraulic lift and camera in place, William Sargent is "pitching" the attributes of the Mini-Crab to a very attentive audience. Click on this image to enlarge. Once you've enlarged it, click it again to super enlarge!