B&H, my favorite electronics store here in Manhattan, got to talk to Garrett Brown, the man who invented the Steadicam (and contributed some ground-breaking shots to the history of film himself). I love this quote, in terms of encapsulating the importance of movement inside shots:

“You have to get the physical ‘corpus’ . . . through the move and control this thing and not mess it up—it’s a delicate balance,” Brown says. “It’s hanging out there on a gimbal, it’s floating out on an arm, sticking out in some odd ways, and you’re tearing through the scene. That’s why it is so incredibly much fun to shoot Steadicam, because you have the artistic bit, you have the continuity of a move that does something, that has an emotional whack to it. And then you have the dancer’s tasks of navigating and not falling down, and the more gracefully you can do it, the better the shot looks.”

Of course, this makes me even more interested in DIY steadicams, not necessarily because I can duplicate his products but as a way of learning about the technology. Anyone built a camera mount yourself?

The Steady Approach: An Interview with Steadicam Inventor Garrett Brown

  • how about Johnny Lee's DIY $14 steadycam? It's pretty basic, no hydraulics, but it gets the job done and, well… $14.

  • I've definitely seen some of the projects. Have you built Johnny's version? Curious to hear from someone who's tried one of these…

  • I built mine only 4 days ago and had very little time to test it so far. My first impressions: from the very start you notice the shots being smoother; it is somewhat heavy but still manageable. I'm sure that with a little practice this can be a very useful tool. I specially like the control the side handle gives you, unlike a $500 single-hand glidecam which I could never point to exactly where I wanted.

  • i experimented with a super simple steady-sling for my nokia N95: i taped it to the top of a heavy wooden block, and then a few ropes tied around the block, ending in a handle, so i could carry it much like a marionette / string puppet

    it works ok for leveling out jerkiness while walking/running, and is great for "just-above-the-ground-flying". but it was a bit hard to tilt and pan the camera, couldn't do fluidly that while moving

  • i made one of johnny's steadicams and it worked well. the basic physics of it (the stabilizing effect of the pendulum) — makes a big difference in smoothness of motion. if i did it again i would definitely put a panning/tilting tripod head on it.

  • Chupap

    No hydraulics in a full-size Steadicam either, videogink. Also, The handheld Glidecams (and all similar rigs including Steadicams) are not designed for one-handed operation, as some of the brochures would have you think. One hand supports the weight, the other operates pan and tilt and precise aim of the system. You do not need or want the articulated side arm of Johnny's design to achieve this, it destabilizes as much as it stabilizes.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Motion » Magical, 3D-Warping Techniques Steadies Your Videos()