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Parables for Steadicam


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#1 William Demeritt

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 02:16 PM

In working with plenty of student films, or productions unfamiliar with Steadicam, I find myself explaining what we do moreso through analogy. One analogy in particular helped me verbalize how we progress from newbie Steadicam operators into Operators:

Steadicam operation is like playing ice hockey. When someone decides they want to play ice hockey, they learn they first have to know how to skate. You must become so good at skating that when playing hockey you're not thinking about skating; you're thinking about the puck, the players, offsides, who to pass it to, when to take the shot, etc.

You look back at when you first put on skates: you were wobbly, hockey stops took a measured effort and forethought, foot positioning for a snapshot required planning, etc. Now, you don't even think about your feet; you hockey stop instinctively, with a split second reflex. You're always ready to take the shot or pass it. However, when you practice, you still go back to basics: step and slides, rapid slapshots, suicides up and down the ice.

Same goes for Steadicam. Eventually, your foot positioning for a lock-off becomes second nature. You're no longer thinking about how to keep the rig level; you're thinking about the best composition, watching eyelines, bogeys in your shot, etc. You're "playing the game".

For people who've never played hockey, perhaps there's a sport you can think of where you learn the complexities of the game's foundation, and then play the game itself.

Anyone else have a good analogy for how Steadicam works? Or how do you best explain things when people ask about Steadicam?
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#2 RonBaldwin

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:38 PM

I usually use the old baseball bat and farting unicorn with a lawnmower analogy. Works everytime. I think it was in an old Steadicam Letter.
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#3 Jessica Lopez

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 09:47 PM

I was thinking of Roller Derby as I was reading your post Will :)
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#4 Afton Grant

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 10:41 PM

Anyone else have a good analogy for how Steadicam works? Or how do you best explain things when people ask about Steadicam?


Sure. Steadicam is like [insert any activity in the world that requires any sort of practice].

...but then again, it's really not. It's not landing a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. It's not repairing a spinal cord. It's not docking a space shuttle with the space station.

I don't feel special enough to create a long analogy, despite what my mother says.
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#5 Melissa Smith

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

I usually say it's like playing the tuba in the marching band. It's the same idea as the hockey analogy. You've got to know how to play the instrument before you can add any choreography to it. But then again, also add learning calligraphy with your left hand.
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#6 chris fawcett

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 03:02 AM

I usually say it's like playing the tuba in the marching band. It's the same idea as the hockey analogy. You've got to know how to play the instrument before you can add any choreography to it. But then again, also add learning calligraphy with your left hand.

More like playing the piano in a marching band...
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#7 Mark Britton

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 08:28 AM

Being a Steadicam operator is like having a Dodge Viper in High School. You're still probably the biggest nerd in the room.

Okay, the Viper is probably cheaper, but still...
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#8 Janice Arthur

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 01:26 PM

Will;

IMHO you're working too hard.

If they're in a class they know about it in some way.

I put them in the rigs, they are good or terrible for beginners.

Eventually they get to see a really good shot that has been been done by the masters.

I say this is what's possible.

If you put up with enough pain, practice and goofiness you'll get this job; do this well; get paid to do this and ultimately be admired in film history. (Now lets go back to work.)

JA

(not being mean, they get it.)
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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 02:21 PM

Will;

IMHO you're working too hard.

If they're in a class they know about it in some way.

I put them in the rigs, they are good or terrible for beginners.

Eventually they get to see a really good shot that has been been done by the masters.

I say this is what's possible.

If you put up with enough pain, practice and goofiness you'll get this job; do this well; get paid to do this and ultimately be admired in film history. (Now lets go back to work.)

JA

(not being mean, they get it.)


Thank you Janice. No need to over complicate something that in the end is simple to demo
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#10 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 06:53 PM

I'd also flip flop the analogy. I can teach any athletic 18 year old how to run around with a rig, it's the learning to operate that takes a life time.
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#11 RonBaldwin

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 05:01 PM

I'd also flip flop the analogy. I can teach any athletic 18 year old how to run around with a rig, it's the learning to operate that takes a life time.



You are right Mike, forget the farting lawn-mowing unicorn analogy!


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#12 Ed Moore

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 10:50 AM

If I ever have to explain why it's an issue to operate with thick cables attached to the rig I tend to give the example of trying to do fine calligraphy whilst a hyperactive child randomly flicks at the other end of the pen...
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#13 David M. Aronson

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:40 PM

If I ever have to explain why it's an issue to operate with thick cables attached to the rig I tend to give the example of trying to do fine calligraphy whilst a hyperactive child randomly flicks at the other end of the pen...


I use the "Like having a monkey yank on a piece of string tied to your arm, while you're trying to preform brain surgery." Analogy
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#14 Lars Erik

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 04:48 AM

I'd also flip flop the analogy. I can teach any athletic 18 year old how to run around with a rig, it's the learning to operate that takes a life time.



A lifetime?!!!! Nobody freakin' told me it would take a whole lifetime. That's it! I'm out. Selling everything and moving to Madagascar!!!
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#15 Afton Grant

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 05:17 AM

I guess I simply have a great preference for good old modesty. Sure, operating is challenging. But so is any career. A pie maker will be honing his/her craft for their entire life.

I just watched an episode of "Making the Cut" last night - the show about the brutally grueling training regimins soldiers go through to just be accepted into the elite branches of military. My greatest fear would be to unknowingly meet one of these guys at a party and proceed to tell him that my job is challenging.
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