Behind the Scenes – Episode 9 – Ninja Steadicam Skills


Hey all and welcome back to Behind the Scenes. In this episode, I’ll be putting out an open call for ninja lessons. Internet Steadicam Ninja Lessons. This might make more sense later. Just keep watching.

So over the last year, I’ve been lucky enough to discover the supreme awesomeness of an ultra smooth shoot. And I thought I had been shooting steady shots before. Ha. I was so wrong.

I first started thinking about Steadicam shots in high school. I really wanted a robot suit that could make my images come out like butter. But what’s a high school kid to do? Luckily, my DIY streak was just starting to come out and my buddy, Stefan and I had the great idea to build our own.

I found the $14 dollar Steadicam, made by Little Great Ideas, and I had found my ultimate answer…or at least, I thought I did. This cheapo rig works under completely different principles than the actual steadicam. The $14 Steadycam relies mostly on inertia to get that smooth shot. There are no moving parts so any shock from your arms will be transferred directly to the camera.

But for the Steadicam, or in our case, the Glidecam, there is a gimbal that can rotate in any direction and will help to prevent any unwanted rotational forces from moving the camera. And if you have the support arm and vest, it will absorb all directional forces. And that’s the main difference. Here, the extra mass and inertia helps to absorb movement. And here, the points of articulation and springs eliminate those same forces.

Contrary to popular belief, there are no gyroscopes whatsoever in an actual steadicam. Instead, they are perfectly balanced, the camera above the handle balances with the weights below the handle. And to control the rig, you barely have to lift a finger. Literally. All it should take is a little nudge from your fingertips to move it.

So what I was saying before, I’m putting out an open call to filmmakers and interested youtubers out there. Does anyone want me to make videos explaining the finer points of steadicam use, owning a steadicam, and how to be a steadicam ninja in general? Please tell me in the comments.

Thanks for watching Behind the Scenes. If you’ve got any questions you’d like me to answer, put them in the comments and I’ll answer it in a video. Check back in Tuesdays for new episodes. You can subscribe right here.

So until next time, stay inspired.

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