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Left Side Operating

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#1 Kit Mackenzie

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Posted 24 April 2016 - 01:50 PM

Hi there,


So as a relevant newbie to steadicam I am beginning to fly my rig a little more recently - I practice with an old Sony Betacam for the weight.


On a short film I had to do a shot down a very narrow corridor, through a doorway and behind an actor at a kitchen sink ending up with the camera very close to the counter top. After blocking the shot I thought I'd give it a go operating with the arm mounted to the left hand side of me and then crossing the body to end up on the right - the opposite of the norm. I had done this once in my early days whilst practicing (following the EFP DVD) but was amazed at how much easier I found it operating this way. I'm not convinced the shots were technically any more stable (the horizon more level etc) but it was much easier to sustain both the weight and refine the rig this way.


What I want to ask is has anyone else found this? And more importantly is operating in this way strictly "wrong" or worse for me? As I continue to practice I am tempted to operate this way more but don't want to rely on it if it's going to have a detrimental effect longterm....


I should add I am naturally left handed meaning my stronger arm and hand end up on gimbal rather than the sled so this may answer for why I find this method easier.


Many thanks for this forum and your thoughts.



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#2 James Davis

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 07:56 AM

Kit, I found quite early on that I preferred to operate with the rig on this side, I tried operating "the normal way" or regular, but it felt so unnatural and awkward, the moment I switched and tried operating goofy I knew I would never go back.

Strangely I am not left handed though, I am right handed, but I am also somewhat ambidextrous.

I don't think there is anything wrong with operating this way, it seems to be quite common over in the UK, personally I find it's quite nice for my spatial awareness, because whether I am handheld or on Steadicam I am always used to being aware and moving with the camera on the right side of my body.


Just my two pence.

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#3 Kit Mackenzie

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 10:02 AM

Thanks for that response James - glad I'm not the only one. I'll stick with goofy in the coming weeks and see if my inclination towards it persists. I hadn't made the connection between it having similarities to handheld but maybe that's what is making it feel more familiar.



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#4 Arvid Knutsen

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 08:29 AM

I recently took a steadicam course.  I had done some operating with the pilot before, and the pilot was mounted left side.

When I started the course, I was pretty sure that the left side mounting was the way to go for me, however since we were three operators at the course, and only one rig, I had to train with the right side. A few hours into the course I started complaining about this being kinda wrong, and that I wanted to try the left side. I changed it. And tried the left side which I had been craving for. But sadly this did not satisfy me at all. So I went straight back to the right side mount. 


So what is the moral of the story?? I dont really know. I guess it is at least smart to really test both sides thoroughly before choosing something for certain. I have been doing a few liveTV shows now, and I am pretty confident that the right side is best for me.

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#5 Russell Gleeson

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Posted 07 June 2017 - 04:05 AM

As I'm left handed I use the rig on the left, gives me better control, also stronger left leg for stops, have tried the right side and it feels completely wrong so I think its what ever feels right. But like Arvid said I think you should test both, i'v also come across shots where i wish I was right sided, so I think its worth practising the dark side!!!(which ever side that is)

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#6 Shawn Adams

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 11:06 AM

I shoot goofy.  I am much more comfortable with the arm on the left side of the vest and using my right hand on the gimbal..  I can do both, but I'm much better this way...

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#7 ChrisCunningham



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Posted 13 June 2017 - 01:10 PM

Hi Kit, I thought it may be relevant for you to read my response in an earlier thread when asked if I operate goofy:


Hi Brendan, short answer is yes, I operate goofy…but as I'm sure many other "goofy" operators out there would agree, the use of "regular" and "goofy" in regards to stance is quite an anomaly as used in our relatively small community of steadicam operators.  Considering that the reverse is true in every board sport and striking sport I wonder how long this steadicam specific use of those words will be relevant.  My guess is there is no reason for it to change within a community of this size, especially considering the nature of our introduction to the gear….not quite as simple to be sure as kicking a ball or stepping on a skateboard.  Like most of us I took a workshop and was not given a choice as to which side I operated on…I was only allowed to switch to what was natural to me in the last two days.  I get it, its more efficient to run a workshop this way…we're just learning basics here anyway, free to move on and make it our own.  To the extent that our introduction to stance with steadicam equipment is a matter of convenience, our use of "goofy" and "regular" is imposed in workshop isolation, arbitrarily based on the evolution of the gear as one man of great genius evolved his one handed operating technique to a two handed method…a man that ironically had no one to tell him he was "regular" or "goofy" when he began his quest with his left foot forward and right hand on the post.  His orthodox stance was eventually challenged with an arm already mounted on the right side while discovering a two handed technique. He became a southpaw through ergonomic necessity, giving birth to a community of southpaw operators that consider themselves "regular".  

So I guess Brendan, my long answer is still yes, I operate goofy, only because I presume you are a fellow steadicam operator.  To anyone who is not a steadicam operator I would have to say I have an orthodox stance, that I am regular footed…otherwise I would be misleading them.  It's not that I find being called goofy to be a bit left-handed, but certainly a bit left-footed.  


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#8 Twojay Dhillon

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 04:07 PM

Another goofy op here :)


We predominantly operate cameras with them on the right side of our face/body, so why switch? And Steadicam, as marvelous and wondrous as it is, is simply another tool to get the shot. 


Not many Directors and/or DoP's will setup a shot with the fact that Steadicam is/was predominantly operated on the left side at the forefront of their thought process. In fact, if you pay attention, you will almost always see them set it up as if phantom operating a handheld cam (on the right side), as is evidenced by watching the way they look through their magic-hands or the stick when auditioning lenses.


I've found op'ing with the rig on my right to not only feel very natural to me, but also (perhaps unknowingly) to others on-set involved with the design/creation of the shot. 


And, as CC has pointed out above, the terms goofy and regular really only exist within the alt-definition used in our tiny -- yet expanding -- microcosm.



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