What is a Steadicam Shot?
You’re shooting a scene that involves movement but you can’t seem to get your camera to stabilize enough so that the focus can be on the subject rather than the unsteadiness. What do you do? Behold the Steadicam shot! But what is a Steadicam shot anyway? We’re showing you what a Steadicam shot is like, why it’s brilliant, and when you should incorporate a Steadicam into your production. Follow along to learn about the shot that has revolutionized the stabilized handling of a camera in unique shots to capture dynamic movement without visible shaking.
What is a Steadicam?
A Steadicam is a piece of equipment that is used for image stabilization when working with a handheld camera or device. Prior to the introduction of the Steadicam, a cinematographer would have to capture movement shots with complex equipment such as a dolly and track that would move along a predetermined route. This meant there had to be a lot of room for equipment and that limitations on track construction would restrict the area in which such shots could take place.
The Steadicam allows the camera operator to walk in any direction, forward or back, side to side or even up or down stairs while operating the camera with a smooth shot. The addition of the Steadicam and the ability for cinematographer to capture complex movement scenes without interruption have led to extreme changes in our ability to produce movement shots that show off the location and literally bring the audience into the scene where the characters are for a flawless and limitless production.
The Steadicam Shot
With the Steadicam came a rise in the technique of using the Steadicam to capture powerful movement shots that captivate the audience and capture their interest in a way like never before. Steadicam operators use their creativity to produce the perfect shots for a wide range of scenes.
A Steadicam shot that gives the appearance of flying over low ground can be produced with a Steadicam that is tilted from side to side as the camera “soars” across the set. Similarly, the Steadicam can be focused on a group of people from the front with camera operator walking backwards as the group walks toward him or her. This creates the perceived look of walking with the actors for a walk and talk shot.
Steadicam shots are the result of creativity and a lot of hard work and coordination between the Director, camera crew, and Steadicam operator. As such, some of the best Steadicam shots are the result of several years of Steadicam operation experience that come together to produce the desired effect that filmmakers and movie-goers have equally grown to love.
Benefits of the Steadicam Shot
In addition to providing jerk free and stabilized camera movement, the Steadicam shot has the power to save space and time on the film set. The use of a Steadicam allows for free movement around various objects on set with rapid changing of direction. Other forms of scene motion caught on film are restricting and may not be captured without appearing jerky or otherwise amateur in scope.
Additionally, the Steadicam operator can capture a wide range of shots without assistance. The freed up hands that you have on set can be used to capture additional shots to provide a higher production value to the client. This way, when the footage is delivered for editing there will be more raw footage to choose from and the final outcome of the film will be improved.
Footage captured with a Steadicam is stable and doesn’t appear shaky or jerky. Camera shots that are captured without the Steadicam may come off as less professional or amateur to the end viewer. The endless possibilities to use Steadicam footage to enhance your production allow you to capture the attention of even the pickiest audience members and produce professional shots that pique interest and ensures a more engaged audience.
Finally, the Steadicam can be used to capture footage in some of the most confined spaces that would otherwise not be conducive to essential tracks and dolly equipment necessary for shot stabilization. You can even use a Steadicam in a vehicle or similar closed environment where the bumpy and shaky effects of traditionally holding the camera steady while shooting would otherwise render a quality movement shot of poor value. You can bet shots captured by a qualified Steadicam operator, no matter how confined the space, are going to capture the attention of your audience in a way that no other special talent of equipment can.