facebook twitter youtube linkedin fcp vimeo imdb

Contact: 09.00-17.00 Mon - Fri
Manchester & London, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)800 689 9866

About Steadicam

"To watch closely, to listen...to comprehend the heart of the shot and the soul of the story"
Garrett Brown, Steadicam Inventor
(on Steadicam Operators)

The Steadicam® is a sophisticated body-worn camera stabilisation device which uses a combination of counterbalance and isolation of the camera from the operator’s movements to provide stable, mobile and fluid three-dimensional images, for use in the broadcast, film and live events industries. The Steadicam® is composed of three main sections which interact to provide the 'Steadi effect':

  • The Sled – the main section of the Steadicam®. The top stage interfaces between Steadicam sled and camera, mechanically and electronically. The camera is mounted to the top stage using dovetail and/or camera plates. Below this is the post and the gimbal (from where the operator controls movement and direction). At the bottom of the post are the battery, monitor & electronics of the system. Once the sled is balanced statically (hangs level) and dynamically (spins level), the weight of the camera at the top is counterbalanced against the weight of the battery and monitor at the bottom. The operator controls the Steadicam® from the gimbal - which is the centre of gravity of the system. A fingertip touch is all that is needed to control pans, tilts, and full movements of the rig.

  • The Vest/Harness – This is the means by which the Steadicam® is attached to operator. The vest displaces the weight of the Steadicam® to the hips, and supports the operator’s back. The vest-arm interface comes in the form of an adjustable socket block.

  • The Arm – This connects vest with sled. The isoelastic arm is the heart of the system, as it absorbs all bumps and shakes of the operator as they walk, and suspends the Steadicam® sled in space alongside the operator. The arm contains springs which can be adjusted to match the weight of the camera being used.

Put these three components together along with balance and a trained operator with a skilled, careful touch and it is possible to produce some incredible shots that could not be produced using any other means.

Invented in 1974 by Garrett Brown, the rig was originally designed to be used as a tool for specialist shots in individual films. In 1976, the rig entered commercial production, and since then has seen widespread international use. The Steadicam® has a variety of uses for the filmmaker and has consequently been used on feature films extensively. The success of the Steadicam® in this industry saw it earn an Oscar in 1978 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for technical achievement.

The successful application of Steadicam® in the film industry has led to heavy and extensive usage within the TV industry on live Outside Broadcasts, for example the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, UK Lord Mayor's Show, UK Premiership Football, Horse Racing, the Rugby World Cup and Football World Cup. The Steadicam has also been diversified into TV commercials, music promos, studio programmes and live music concerts. Again, the Steadicam's impact was recognised, on this occasion within the television industry, and led to the winning of an Emmy in 1989 from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Today, more than 40 years after its invention, the Steadicam® can be viewed as an almost obligatory tool in the armoury of directors in both television and film.