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A steadicam is a mount for a motion picture camera that mechanically isolates the movement of the operator from that of the camera, allowing for a very smooth shot even when the operator is moving quickly over an uneven surface.

Motion picture cameras are very sensitive to the movement of their operators. Even when standing still the picture may not be stable enough for the audience. This is why stands are used to support the camera. When the director wants the camera to film while moving he can use a stand mounted onto a track - a dolly. The disadvantage of this is that a track has to be laid which requires a smooth surface and restricts where the camera can be pointed (because the track may come into shot). The only alternative to this is to use a hand held camera which becomes even more unstable with a moving operator.

The steadicam mounts the camera on the operator allowing the freedom of a handled camera. The steadicam absorbs the small movements of the operator, the jerks and bumps, but allows the broad movements that allow him to position the camera.

Table of contents
1 How Steadicams Work
2 History of the Steadicam
3 Credits
4 External Links

How Steadicams Work

The steadicam consists of a harness worn by the operator which is attatched to an iso-elastic arm, which is then connected by a gimbal to the camera sled. The sled has the camera at one end and a counterbalance on the other. The counterbalance is usually the battery pack and a monitor (normal viewfinders cannot be used as they require the operator to be touching the camera).

The weight of the counter balance and camera means that the sled has a high level of inertia and will not easily be moved by small movements from the operator. The free-swinging counterbalance--not the harness itself--accounts for most of the picture stabilization; shaky filmed images mostly result from a change of angle, not a translation of camera position.

History of the Steadicam

The steadicam was invented in the 1970s by Garrett Brown. It was feared that the novel and unusually smooth but free moving imagery would cause discomfort in it was used in a test case in what was thought to be a little-seen film: Rocky (1976)


Today the steadicam is a standard piece of film making equipment and they are used in many productions. However, they have been used to great effect in some notable films

External Links