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How Steadicam changed film style


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#1 dizzysteinway

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 02:22 PM

Hi there,

I'm an English Lit student but I'm taking a film class and have been asked to write about how technological innovation- through the Steadicam in particular- has influenced film style. I have to analyse around three films and my tutor suggested I use contrasting examples but I'm struggling to come up with any. I can't use the beautiful entering the ring shot from Raging Bull as it was an example in class.
I've written about The Shining before but more in relation to the particular effect of the camera movement within that film.
If anyone could suggest some films with Steadicam work I could analyse- especially in the 70s/early 80s- in which the camera movement is used in contrasting ways, or any writing on its influence on film style, I would be very, very grateful!

Thanks,
Bonnie x
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#2 AdamKeith

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 03:25 PM

Bonnie,
The moderators of this forum ask that you use your whole name as a login.

Check out the website www.steadishots.org It has Steadicam shots from many films with a description about the shot and credit to the operator.

Rocky might be a nice place to start

Good Luck with the paper
Adam Keith
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#3 William Demeritt

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 09:02 PM

Hi there,

I'm an English Lit student but I'm taking a film class and have been asked to write about how technological innovation- through the Steadicam in particular- has influenced film style. I have to analyse around three films and my tutor suggested I use contrasting examples but I'm struggling to come up with any. I can't use the beautiful entering the ring shot from Raging Bull as it was an example in class.
I've written about The Shining before but more in relation to the particular effect of the camera movement within that film.
If anyone could suggest some films with Steadicam work I could analyse- especially in the 70s/early 80s- in which the camera movement is used in contrasting ways, or any writing on its influence on film style, I would be very, very grateful!

Thanks,
Bonnie x


I get the feeling that you won't find many film theorists discussing the use of Steadicam, as they tend to analyze the end result of a technical achievement rather than the decision to use that technical device. Everyone has an opinion about personal preference, but those are the technicians in the field, and those opinions usually come from the ease of use as opposed to the screen aesthetic. I doubt you could see the difference between the choice of a Fisher 11 dolly or a Chapman Super Peewee IV.

What I'm getting at: I suggest you use the Steadishots.org as a reference for shots in films where you know they're Steadicam, find the ones that resonate with you, and then detail how that shot itself was otherwise impossible to achieve without Steadicam. You're writing a paper about how Steadicam influenced film style, which is itself an enormous dialogue regarding the aesthetic of the moving camera, and the choices made in production.
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#4 Andrew Stone

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 10:09 PM

Carlito's Way is often used as a teaching reference particularly for the masterful "escalator" sequence at the end of the movie. However, the use of Steadicam in the story telling of this movie from start to finish is wildly good. I would highly recommend this as one of your 3 movies to use for reference.

-Andrew

Edited by Andrew Stone, 20 April 2010 - 10:10 PM.

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#5 Sverker Hahn

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 09:24 AM

Steadicam is frequently used in TV series and feature films, making story-telling better and more varied.

But I also think that the use of steadicams has changed the stories to be kind of unnatural sometimes.

E.g. the camera follows two characters along a corridor when they discuss police work, the hospital´s patients and their treatments or even the government´s secret policys. Everywhere around them are people that are possible leaks and spies. Do you understand what I mean?

Seems that the possible use of Steadicams has somehow has made the writers to skip the closed room for conversations in delicate matters and moved them to places where a lot of people can hear it.
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#6 RonBaldwin

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:02 AM

Steadicam is frequently used in TV series and feature films, making story-telling better and more varied.

But I also think that the use of steadicams has changed the stories to be kind of unnatural sometimes.

E.g. the camera follows two characters along a corridor when they discuss police work, the hospital´s patients and their treatments or even the government´s secret policys. Everywhere around them are people that are possible leaks and spies. Do you understand what I mean?

Seems that the possible use of Steadicams has somehow has made the writers to skip the closed room for conversations in delicate matters and moved them to places where a lot of people can hear it.



Those same two characters in the corridor could discuss 2 pages of dialogue in a room sitting at a table, but that would practically be radio. I get what you are saying, but if you are searching for reality, tv and movies might not be the places to look.

Usually, moving the camera is simply more interesting to watch, and can be a time saver when shooting so I'm not sure if it has too much to do with the writers sitting at their computers drinking coffee and writing technical notes. It's usually a decision made in the prep by the director or on the spot by the director and/or dp to make it visually more interesting.

rb
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#7 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:12 PM

E.g. the camera follows two characters along a corridor when they discuss police work, the hospital´s patients and their treatments or even the government´s secret policys. Everywhere around them are people that are possible leaks and spies. Do you understand what I mean?

Those same two characters in the corridor could discuss 2 pages of dialogue in a room sitting at a table, but that would practically be radio.

No, feeling like everyone can hear them as a possible leak is contributed to bad directing. To have the actors lean in and whisper or even pause and look at someone to clear their ear shot and then they continue to walk and talk... blah, blah, blah.


The story is sold by the direction... now if the camera becomes a character, then it can help sell the story instead of just moving the story. Think voyeur or spy or animal creeping up and peering around corners and even the moving POV.

-Alfeo
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#8 Sverker Hahn

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 04:12 AM

Those same two characters in the corridor could discuss 2 pages of dialogue in a room sitting at a table, but that would practically be radio. I get what you are saying, but if you are searching for reality, tv and movies might not be the places to look.


I like reality. I do not like when the hero of the story only gets a small, insignificant wound after fighting the bad guy for five minutes, including a fall from 5 meters height and being hit in the head by a large stone.

Well, I am not much into actions movies and have practically stopped watching them. But the very unrealistic steadicam-recorded discussions in public exist in other types of movies that are supposed to be realistic.

And if a director isn´t up to record a discussion in a room without creating the impression of radio, yes, how good is he/she?
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#9 RonBaldwin

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 02:50 PM

And if a director isn´t up to record a discussion in a room without creating the impression of radio, yes, how good is he/she?


I agree, but in addition to a good director you'd also need a good writer, good actors and the craftsmen/technicians to pull it off. Rarely can you get those four elements of the equation to be on the same job let alone to see eye to eye -- especially in episodic tv, which is cranking out a product with a deadline (where the steadicam can really shine as a time saving tool). I guess it's like the old good, fast and cheap analogy.
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 04:52 PM

There's also a fear (real or perceived) that these days, the camera must be kept moving for audiences to remain interested If a TV director opted to shoot a scene in a prime-time drama with two actors sitting across from a table, chances are good that he will get notes from the producers on it, and to keep his job he will get those people up and moving. Same thing in features--I've been on a few movies where the studio notes ask for "more movement"! This is where we are these days.

As far as suspension of disbelief, I guess we all have different thresholds. The ultimate compliment you can get when making, say, a medical drama is to have doctors and nurses tell you "that's exactly how it is" but more often than not artistic license is taken as required.

There's an interesting issue that is developing where so much of our actual lives is now spent texting, emailing or browsing; buried in our phones, computers and iPads. How do you dramatize that in a way that is entertaining for others to watch? At least we are getting less of the amped-up blinking displays and beeps and chirps that were used in years past to make computers seem more interactive.
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#11 Janice Arthur

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 10:28 AM

Hi all;

This thread has, I think, missed the key reason why any moving camera is desireable. From its earliest inception filmmaking has loved a moving camera because it took a flat medium and made it more three dimensional. The moving camera showed separation of the objects.

The Steadicam has now made all that easy and non-linear or linear. We can move at will anywhere, anyway.

Now making that desired depth on screen is more easily achieved/desired/quicker/not-available-any-other-way/cost-efficient/etc.

Throw in the newest technology of "real 3-d" and the Steadicam is going to be even more "necessary".

I think that's how Steadicam changed filmmaking!

JA
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#12 Sverker Hahn

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 06:33 AM

This thread has, I think, missed the key reason why any moving camera is desireable. From its earliest inception filmmaking has loved a moving camera because it took a flat medium and made it more three dimensional. The moving camera showed separation of the objects.

Steadicam has made it possible to move the camera in more situations than is possible with cranes and dollies, which also makes it more three dimensional.

I think that Bonnie can get enough material to say all the good things we know about the steadicams. My post was just a hint about that nothing good comes without the bad.
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#13 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 07:32 PM

“I believe that Steadicam has had as much impact
on the way movies are made as the introduction
of Sound and the arrival of Television” William Fraker ASC
Rosemary Baby ,TheExorcist, Bullit,
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#14 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 07:35 PM

“Camera movements are used to lead the eye,
to give the audience a feeling - An Emotional one,
a Logical one,a Dramatic one-just the way Lighting and Framing do”
Haskell Wexler ASC
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