The Shinning, Rocky, Casino and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are arguably some of the best films ever made! Imagine working with the likes of Kubrick, Spielberg and Scorsese… Well Garret Brown didn’t only work with these industry GREATS operating Steadicam – he also invented it!
I had the pleasure of spending the week with Garret and the other amazing professional Steadicam operators and fellow instructors at the Tiffen Steadicam Workshop in Atlanta, USA.
Camera movement is such an important aspect of the cinematography craft and this workshop seriously enhanced my appreciation for it!
I love to shoot hand held due to the freedom of motion it gives you. Instead of being limited to a tripod or piece of track a well operated Steadicam gives you complete freedom of movement and a beautiful smooth look. The idea of achieving this myself has always intrigued me so I took the plunge and booked to go on the official workshop. As it drew closer I began to question ‘why am I going..?’ Really good DP jobs kept rolling in (of course over the same period) and then I seriously thought ‘what am I doing going to Atlanta…?’ but now I can whole heartedly say it was one of the best decisions of my life! What a week, what a great bunch of people!
The lead instructor and author of the Steadicam Operators Hand Book Jerry Holway who has a highly impressive body of work behind him (including As Good as It Gets and Donnie Brasco) has such passion for the craft way beyond the technical, that it was truly intoxicating!
I think the best way, possibly only way to learn how to operate Steadicam correctly is to go on a workshop. There is a very common misconception that many people are led to believe about Steadicam which is: Steadicam operating is bad for your back… We’ve all heard it! Most of us believed it!
After a solid week training with the big rigs I have never felt so good and my posture is the best it’s ever been… ‘How?’ I hear you cry, well when operating correctly you stand completely upright with straight legs, this seems a little odd at first especially if like me you are used to bending your knees to absorb the shock when shooting hand held. However, with Steadicam the Arm is designed to absorb it all for you, such an amazing feat of engineering – so much so Garret won an Oscar for the creation.
One of the other inspirational instructors and professional operators Chris Fawcett has written some fascinating info on both Steadicam Posture and Camera Movement it’s well worth checking out! He has also designed the Steadiseg, a Segway purposely designed to shoot from.
My passion for what can be achieved with the art of Steadicam is growing on a daily basis. I even went to the shop with Chris and brought some flat soled New Balance shoes that he recommends are the best for operating – that’s my first step, now I need to count my pennies to try and buy a big rig!
Take a look at the Casino trailer to see some super cool Steadicam as Garret followers a character into the money counting room – so Awesome!
If that clip inspires you then I highly recommend taking the Tiffen Steadicam Workshop definitely the best way to learn, hear tales from the masters, meet new fellow operators and not to mention just have Amazing Fun! Thanks so much Peter Abraham for such great instruction and pulling together such an organized cool experience that I will never forget!
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