Steadicam Training

On Monday Laurence and I spent a whole day practicing our basics. Although training with Joe Bullen was great, there simply wasn’t enough time for one-on-one teaching. So I decided to ask Laurence to come in to Prime with me and help me with my technique as he has already done quite a bit of Steadicam operating on the MA shoot Leo.

I have edited together a small compilation of some of my best shots and have written a little about what I did to improve these shots from the last time I practiced

Move 1: Follow and Turn

I wanted to practise my basic follow shots and turns, so I spent a whole day just walking up and down with the subject perfecting my use of horizontal and vertical lines in the background. I kept experiencing a sort of sea sickness type motion from the horizon line moving. (For example 00:13 seconds in)

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I also wanted to improve the movement’s created with my left hand such as for turning corners and panning. Before I was attempting to shift the entire camera but Laurence taught me to only use my finger tips to turn the post of the Steadicam. I think I improved here massively after a few attempts. 

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(00:21 in)

I then wanted to work on regaining my framing and keeping the horizontal and vertical lines correct after turning the corner (00:55):

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Move 2: Follow, Turn and Tilt

I really struggled as lifting up with the subject from sitting to standing – I found it difficult to keep him in frame and keep the camera steady. (01:23)

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I started ECU but then realised that I needed to pull back very quickly but smoothly to keep his head fully in frame (02:04)

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This is definitely something I need to work of next week – perhaps part of the reason for this is that I am quite a lot shorter than the subject which means I really have to lift the camera up to reach head height – but that means taking the weight off the arm of the steadicam which in itself is incorrect. In my next session I am going to attempt to raise the post so I can reach eye line as well as trying Low-mode.
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(02:10) I was able to re-gain my framing after the previous shot at least.

One aspect that I think works fairly well is when the subject raises the camera to take a photo and I push in and tilt down fairly smoothly (01:51)

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(02:28) This attempt its smoother but I do loose the top of the frame slightly for a moment but when it is re-gained it is nice and stable.

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Move 3: Backwards track and transition to Don Jan 

(03:22)

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There is a kick out towards the end that I haven’t quite mastered and I found it really quite hard to control – I actually decided it that it is due the the way my right arm is angled rather than the grip on my left hand.

Move 4: 360° Turn around subject

(04:10)

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Works fairly well and is actually a very powerful shot – however I think my main issue here is the fact I am too close to the subject – just one step back would be much more effective and would also mean I dont cut in to the head or chin at all.

I find that the longer I practise the better my technique but also the more worn out I get. My energy and strength levels rapidly degrees after a few hours work so In a way short but frequent bursts are probably better than long drawn out sessions. 

Here are some photographs from the training day:

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