Jump to content



Photo

proper training for steadicam


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Carlo Christian Spano

Carlo Christian Spano

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts

Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:00 AM

Hi everyone!
In order to prevent back problems, I would like to have some advices about a proper training program, how many days a week shall I train, which kind of exercise/sports you suggest and so on...

thank you in advance
carlo
  • 0

#2 Dan Coplan

Dan Coplan

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 507 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 28 April 2006 - 01:10 PM

You should speak to a qualified personal trainer. Show him/her your rig and the type of work/movements you do.

Dan Coplan
  • 0

#3 Gordon Li-Ron

Gordon Li-Ron

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 57 posts
  • North Hollywood

Posted 28 April 2006 - 02:18 PM

Carlo,


Proper use of the steadicam will not only prevent back injuries (assuming you had none to begin with) it will also strenghten your back. There are many operators that have been doing this for 20+ years and are in excellent shape. If you haven't already taken a workshop...then you should. If you learn bad techniques, you will be putting your health and the quality of your work at risk.


gordon
  • 0

#4 Bryan Trieb SOC

Bryan Trieb SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 151 posts
  • Los Angeles / Toronto

Posted 28 April 2006 - 02:46 PM

You must find the proper balance of cardio, resistance training, and other things like yoga/pilates/martial arts training that works for you.

Personally, I do cardio and a wide array of resistance training movements....such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, quad extentions, hamstring curls....hyperextentions for the lower back and tons of ab work.
Basically I find the most important body parts to train are legs, back and abs.

A personal trainer is the way to go, and also consult chiro/physio specialists to assess the current condition of your body. This will give you a very accurate and personalized structure from which to work.

Of course as previously mentioned, proper operating techniques rule over all.

Don't forget good nutrition!

Goodluck!
  • 0

#5 Michael Stumpf

Michael Stumpf

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 491 posts
  • U.S.

Posted 28 April 2006 - 03:38 PM

Carlo,


Proper use of the steadicam will not only prevent back injuries (assuming you had none to begin with) it will also strenghten your back. There are many operators that have been doing this for 20+ years and are in excellent shape. If you haven't already taken a workshop...then you should. If you learn bad techniques, you will be putting your health and the quality of your work at risk.


gordon



This is a misnomer and pretty much untrue.
Proper or NOT, doing Steadicam will NOT prevent back injuries.
Sure there have been a lot of operators who've been doing Steadicam
for 20+ years with no back problems, but there are just as many if not
MORE who've HAD back problems and even back surgery AFTER doing
steadicam for even as little as 2-3 years!

As much as some lead you to believe that "proper" use of
Steadicam will NOT hurt your back, that's like telling any
athlete with "proper" training and good technique they will
never hurt their body or back either.
It's JUST NOT TRUE!!!!

Talk to ANY medical doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc
and show them what we do and they will CRINGE.

There is NO doubt that Steadicam will strengthen your back, but
in the process like strengthening ANY muscle or part of your
body EXTENSIVELY, we put WAY more force on our backs and hips
then any normal person would and should do without expecting
injuries.

Again, many sports players go there whole careers without injuries
but MANY more have multiple injuries and sustain future problems
down the road BECAUSE the stress and force they put their bodies
through over the years....steadicam is NO different.
  • 0

#6 Brant S. Fagan SOC

Brant S. Fagan SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 407 posts
  • Charlestown, New Hampshire, USA

Posted 28 April 2006 - 07:08 PM

Gents--

From my personal experience, as both a Steadicam Operator for fifteen (15) years and a Workshop Instructor for fourteen (14), I can say that everyone and their individual situatiion is unique.

Having said that, I can speak from years of experience fitting Workshop students into the Vest, that if you wear the Vest correctly and know the proper and correct use of the personal adjustments of the Arm to Vest interface, you will minimize the chances of "bad" things happening.

That of course, does not include "bad" advice from 1st ADs and producers who know little or nothing about how we really "work."

I can also suggest from my personal experience that you learn how to move your whole body. My mother is a ballerina and let me tell you there is little in this world that can not benefit from some dance classes and specific analysis and instruction about how to move your body "correctly" with regard to executing a Steadicam shot.

When I began my Steadicam career, I spent months practicing in front of mirrors in my mother's dance studio. No tights or pink little slippers, just me, the Rig, and some exercises. Hours per day. Really.

Who can say how your individual experience may turn out.

Seriously consider all aspects of what goes into your body with careful concern on nutrition and hydration.

If something hurts, stop and find out why. Take steps to correct or eliminate those elements which do not enhance your skills. Write it down and keep track of your overall performance. Years later this may prove invaluable.

And try not to forget to have some fun. Safety is number one. Great shots and bar stories come way down the list.

Good luck!

Best,

Brant S. Fagan, SOC
Steadicam/Camera Operator
  • 0

#7 Dave Bittner

Dave Bittner

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 77 posts
  • Columbia, MD

Posted 01 May 2006 - 08:49 AM

Brant provides excellent advice, as usual. I grew up doing musical theater, and when it came time to learn steadicam the years of dance experience really paid off. Thinking of the rig as your dance "partner", learning to work with the weight and not just muscle through the shots, not to mention fancy footwork all contribute to an operator's success. I highly recommend dance classes for all operators. Also rollerblading, which works all the "right" muscles and tunes your sense of balance.

As for the back injury thing, let me add my own experience to the mix. I had been doing light-weight operating, flying betacams, for a couple of years before taking the Malibu Workshop. I was strong and fit, working out regularly. At the workshop we had some pretty heavy film rigs, and we all spent as much time as possible flying them to maximize our experience. (I think Erwin set up a hammock in the main workshop area so he wouldn't have to waste time walking to and from his room...) The workshop was incredible, without a doubt one of the best professional experiences of my life, with great instructors like Charles and Brant, Garrett running the whole thing as only he can.

When I came home from the workshop I notices that the big toe on my right side was slightly numb. Odd, I thought, but I chalked it up to the game of Ultimate Frisbee we played on the last day of the workshop. I didn't think anything of it, and it went away in a couple of weeks. I continued to operate steadicam, flying Betacams, DVCPro-50, HD rigs and the occasional 16mm gig on the Provid I owned at the time. This continues for a couple of years without incident.

About two years ago I was in my office warehouse, moving some stuff around, and I picked up a large cube-shaped set piece and felt something funny in my back, on the right side. "That's odd..." I thought. About an hour later the pain came, and it was a whole new brand of pain compared to anything I had ever experienced in my life. I had always been skeptical of people who complained of back pain, thinking they just weren't tough or they were making something out of nothing. I was mistaken. I suffered for a couple hours, unable to get comfortable, taking hot baths, trying anything to make the pain go away. Finally, I remembered I had some percocet (a prescription pain killer) left over from a routine hernia surgery I'd had earlier that year. I took one and the pain went away.

The pain never came back, thank god. I went to the doctor, they did MRIs and discovered I had a bulging disk.

"Tell me about your pain," the doctor said.

"I'm not in any pain," I replied.

"Really? Based on this MRI your should have some pain."

No pain, but my right leg is about 15% asleep all the time. Remember the earlier thing with my big toe? Same feeling, only more so. I get charlie horses in my right calf pretty easily, too. But no pain. The doctor said they could go in and operate, but since I have no pain we might as well see if it self-corrects. If it gets worse they can go in quickly and take care if it, but why operate unless absolutely necessary?

I showed the doctor a photo of me in the rig, and he said, "Look, if you want to be walking when you're fifty I would recommend staying away from steadicam."

And so I have. I still do the occasional light weight job, stuff where I know the client and I know the circumstances, jobs where I know I won't be killing myself. Tempting fate a bit, I suppose, but, well, I'm sure most of you can relate to how hard it would be to just give up operating forever. This stuff gets in your blood, gets in your head, is so damn fulfilling...

So was my injury actually steadicam related? Not directly, it seems, although I'll always wonder about the funny feeling I had after the Malibu workshop. Who knows, maybe I had a preexisting weakness in my back that was aggrivated by operating with a heavier rig than I was used to. My long term injury didn't happen while I was in the rig, and there's really no way to know if steadicam had any influence, for better or for worse, on the probability of me hurting myself.

It's no fun sitting on the sidelines, kind of like a football player with a blown out knee. I never wanted to be a big-time film operator, I was happy doing my mostly-video operating here in a medium sized market, enjoying the craft and unique fellowship that exists among steadicam ops. It's interesting to see the look in other ops eyes when you tell them you're no longer operating because of a back injury. A mixture of genuine concern and fear. Fortunately for me I had a whole other side of my business to fall back on, so the loss of steadicam wasn't a huge hit to my livelyhood. Overall, everone's been very supportive, and it's nice to still be included in get togethers and war story sessions.

There really is something special about steadicam. The culture that Garrett and the other trail blazers established in the beginning is unique, and shouldn't be taken for granted.

Dave Bittner
  • 0

#8 Jerry Holway

Jerry Holway

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 737 posts
  • Philadelphia

Posted 02 May 2006 - 12:40 PM

I'm one of the guys doing this for 24 years properly, and teaching others proper techniques, etc. And I hang with Garrett (31+ years, and a bullet-proof back), just carried the Genesis all up (what a good workout!), etc.

Our take on this.

If you start with no injuries, defects, etc. to your back and use proper technique, you will gently exercise the various erector muscles of your back, and you do it with zero imact, perfect posture, and it's mildly aerobic. It's a great exercise for your back, makes your back stronger, improves your posture.

It's good for your back. Short term and long term.

My anecdotal encounter with a maggage therapist regarding my back was "Wow. There's nothing wrong here. No tension, nothing out of place, nothing mis-aligned, etc." ? which was totally different from what she encountered with handheld cameramen carrying an object 1/4 the weight. Think about how they carry it... with impacts, off balance, bending over, etc. vs. the way we carry the load. Almost every handheld guy I've ever met seeks out the chiropractor... but very few of us do.

Done properly, Steadicam operating strengthens the muscles of the back, legs, butt, etc. equally and thereby reduces pressures on your disks, bones, etc. See Chris Fawcett's discussion on how the back works for more details.

Done improperly, just like lifting a heavy case improperly, will hurt you. Chris describes several "bad" postures and the likely short and long term results. Adopting lazy or improper postures to avoid the lactic acid building up in those muscles is asking for trouble. By the logic that not exercising our backs is good for our backs, we should all be couch potatoes... and we know that's nonsense. We've evolved to move, stretch, exercise, carry things about...

Warming up, stretching, and other exercises help as well.

Very, very few professionals outside of operating have a real clue about the forces (especially of the instantaneous forces) acting on our muscles, or how evenly and squarely and in what good posture we carry the Steadicam. Many really whacky vests have been designed (search the patent offie files!) based on such professional advice. Many folks still believe our spines work like a stack of bricks to hold us up.

It's not like that. Done right, it is GREAT for your back.

Jerry (who had a back injury in college long before Steadicam, and is ever so thankful he took up Steadicam operating)
  • 0

#9 Alec Jarnagin SOC

Alec Jarnagin SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 1800 posts
  • New York City, USA

Posted 02 May 2006 - 03:07 PM

Dave,

Thanks for posting. Brave lad to bare your back problems on the forum. It was such a pleasure meeting you and spending so much time with you at NAB. You are a true gentleman.

Keep in mind, a second opinion never hurts. Obviously, a doctor with no prior knowledge of Steadicam will have that knee-jerk reaction upon looking at photos, but are they correct? Hard to say. Ask around. The fact that Peter Abraham still flies a rig inspires me to no end.
  • 0

#10 nealnorton

nealnorton

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 115 posts

Posted 02 May 2006 - 04:22 PM

Very interesting thread!

To my knowledge, no one has conducted a study on the long term effects of operating a Steadicam on the body including the back, hips or knees. Everything spoken of here has been anecdotal and therefore subject to error. It would be interesting to have someone set up a "Poll" here on the forum to see what percentage of us have back pain problems. And knee, hip or other health problems.

I believe there is no reason to think there is more or less complaint of back pain in the Steadicam family than in the general population. There are alot of people with aching backs - so it would stand to reason that some of us would have back pain. This forum is the first place I have ever heard of a doctor recommending an operator give up Steadicam. I guess if a person is experiencing back pain then the doctor will recommend rest - and that would mean no Steadicam - until that person feels better. I think that deciding the Steadicam is the cause of the back pain might be jumping to conclusions.

Like Jerry, after many years of carrying a steadicam around (usually with a sound camera) I have no back pain. I don't do any specific excersises for my back. For obvious reasons I do try to stay in good shape. As I get older it takes more work to stay in shape. Right now I am more concerned about my knees wearing out than I am about my back calling it quits. I do think my back is very strong compared to the general population.

Good luck

Neal Norton
  • 0

#11 PeterAbraham

PeterAbraham

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 902 posts
  • New York City

Posted 02 May 2006 - 08:47 PM

First of all, Alex that's very kind of you. -warm glow inside-

I operated a variety of large rigs for 14 years, then I broke my back. Had nothing to do with Steadicam. Just an accident at home, like lots of folks have. When the X-rays and MRI's were passed around, the consensus was that -although I have always been a bit hefty- I should have damaged a lotta stuff. The fact that pre-accident I'd been working almost nonstop for 6 months and was in fairly nice shape with those muscles and ligaments incredibly well-toned only served me in good stead when the accident happened.

Prior to The Big Fall, I'd never had serious pains. I had fallen twice, once while running full-bore in Don Juan. ( Charles, that was for you. :P ). The running fall sprained a ligament in the middle of my back. It healed, I worked, life went on. The other fall was of no consequence aside from a cut shin. Never flew an IMAX but I flew everything else back then, including many days with a BL-IV and a 535-B.

Proper form, attention paid to the small stressors that some of us either were never taught to tend to or forget about as things get tired and hairy...... these things preserve us. We had a thread a few years ago about protecting the body, chemistry, electrolytes, etc. I remember Dave Knox writing a great post.

Proper form. Maintaining the pads. Hydration. Considering the most elegant and therefore least stressful way to accomplish every single shot.

Now? I fly a rig that is basically what the Flyer has become. Very light sled, and a Flyer arm and personally designed vest made of carbon-fiber composite honeycomb. The vest spar weighs 14 ounces. :)

The rules are the same, as others have said above. Doing it right won't do any aggrevious damage to your body. In fact as near as I've found, it never harmed me at all. I am highly careful about how I move, lift and Operate now. Can I shoot all day with a 15 pound camera on my rig? Yep. Am I injured as a result? Nope. The broken back is a stable thing, carefully watched but not tempted with dangerous activities. Weird as this may sound, the break in the bone has not altered how I move or operate- it has only limited the weights I can strap on my body.

As I said, the rules apply up and down the line. Doing it cleanly and properly, one would face a dauntingly long career. Having said that may come as a slight to anyone reading who has had to stop or notch back the work load. With all due respect, everyone's body is different.

An anecdote. A pal I know started out with an EFP. He is an ex-Marine and keeps a weight bench in his home. The man doesn't know from body fat and it's many maaaaaany years since he was a Marine. He was eager to dive in, got an EFP, and started working. ( He was already a seasoned camera op). He wrecked his hip socket. I love the guy, but he refused to take a workshop or follow basic advise. The fact that he's a rock doesn't matter. He ultimately stopped using the rig and sold it to another friend, who has flown like an eagle with that thing ever since he started.

When I showed a production photo of me in my Master Series Elite to the third Dr. I worked with ( the one who actually treated me successfully ), he was slack-jawed. He told me my days hauling it around, as well as my days of being an EMT and carrying unconscious people around, were over.

I am delighted to be proving him wrong. :) Almost 5 years with the light rig, still chugging along and lovin' it.

And yeah...... I did put on the U2 Rig at NAB for about 5 minutes. I knew my limits. God that thing felt NICE to have on. No damage done, docked it and walked away grinning like a kid.

Mr. Bittner, I just read your entire post again before posting this up. Your words are honest and quite sobering, and I too thank you for sharing it with us. I know that look in the eyes of other Ops- but you know...... I've only had support and encouragement from all quarters as I've tried to get back. Folks have been incredible about it, actually.

Email me. You might want to put a Flyer on and give it a try.

Peter Abraham
New York
  • 0

#12 SegwayGlideCamera

SegwayGlideCamera

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • New York City

Posted 03 May 2006 - 11:56 AM

First of all, Alex that's very kind of you. -warm glow inside-

I operated a variety of large rigs for 14 years, then I broke my back. Had nothing to do with Steadicam. Just an accident at home, like lots of folks have. When the X-rays and MRI's were passed around, the consensus was that -although I have always been a bit hefty- I should have damaged a lotta stuff. The fact that pre-accident I'd been working almost nonstop for 6 months and was in fairly nice shape with those muscles and ligaments incredibly well-toned only served me in good stead when the accident happened.

Prior to The Big Fall, I'd never had serious pains. I had fallen twice, once while running full-bore in Don Juan. ( Charles, that was for you. :P ). The running fall sprained a ligament in the middle of my back. It healed, I worked, life went on. The other fall was of no consequence aside from a cut shin. Never flew an IMAX but I flew everything else back then, including many days with a BL-IV and a 535-B.

Proper form, attention paid to the small stressors that some of us either were never taught to tend to or forget about as things get tired and hairy...... these things preserve us. We had a thread a few years ago about protecting the body, chemistry, electrolytes, etc. I remember Dave Knox writing a great post.

Proper form. Maintaining the pads. Hydration. Considering the most elegant and therefore least stressful way to accomplish every single shot.

Now? I fly a rig that is basically what the Flyer has become. Very light sled, and a Flyer arm and personally designed vest made of carbon-fiber composite honeycomb. The vest spar weighs 14 ounces. :)

The rules are the same, as others have said above. Doing it right won't do any aggrevious damage to your body. In fact as near as I've found, it never harmed me at all. I am highly careful about how I move, lift and Operate now. Can I shoot all day with a 15 pound camera on my rig? Yep. Am I injured as a result? Nope. The broken back is a stable thing, carefully watched but not tempted with dangerous activities. Weird as this may sound, the break in the bone has not altered how I move or operate- it has only limited the weights I can strap on my body.

As I said, the rules apply up and down the line. Doing it cleanly and properly, one would face a dauntingly long career. Having said that may come as a slight to anyone reading who has had to stop or notch back the work load. With all due respect, everyone's body is different.

An anecdote. A pal I know started out with an EFP. He is an ex-Marine and keeps a weight bench in his home. The man doesn't know from body fat and it's many maaaaaany years since he was a Marine. He was eager to dive in, got an EFP, and started working. ( He was already a seasoned camera op). He wrecked his hip socket. I love the guy, but he refused to take a workshop or follow basic advise. The fact that he's a rock doesn't matter. He ultimately stopped using the rig and sold it to another friend, who has flown like an eagle with that thing ever since he started.

When I showed a production photo of me in my Master Series Elite to the third Dr. I worked with ( the one who actually treated me successfully ), he was slack-jawed. He told me my days hauling it around, as well as my days of being an EMT and carrying unconscious people around, were over.

I am delighted to be proving him wrong. :) Almost 5 years with the light rig, still chugging along and lovin' it.

And yeah...... I did put on the U2 Rig at NAB for about 5 minutes. I knew my limits. God that thing felt NICE to have on. No damage done, docked it and walked away grinning like a kid.

Mr. Bittner, I just read your entire post again before posting this up. Your words are honest and quite sobering, and I too thank you for sharing it with us. I know that look in the eyes of other Ops- but you know...... I've only had support and encouragement from all quarters as I've tried to get back. Folks have been incredible about it, actually.

Email me. You might want to put a Flyer on and give it a try.

Peter Abraham
New York



Hi everyone!
In order to prevent back problems, I would like to have some advices about a proper training program, how many days a week shall I train, which kind of exercise/sports you suggest and so on...

thank you in advance
carlo


Learning to ride the Segway with an upright back and centerline position of your ears with the axil, might also help in training and improvements of back problems. If you are interested in learning advance Segway techniques and using the new no hands steadicam segway please contact me. thanks
itsi atkins
segway glidecamera NYC
  • 0

#13 Brad Grimmett

Brad Grimmett

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 718 posts

Posted 03 May 2006 - 01:09 PM

An interesting light training option is MBT Shoes. There is a lot of technical info about what the shoes do and how they are designed on the website, and there have been a few studies to find out how well the shoes really work. I don't own a pair yet, but I have read and heard a lot about them. They are suppossed to help improve posture while also increasing muscle activity in many parts of the body while you wear them, whether you are just standing or walking. They are pretty expensive at around $250 a pair, but if they do what they are suppossed to the price tag may be well worth it.
Has anyone tried these shoes? I'd love to hear some feedback, especially from steadicam operators.

DISCLAIMER: A friend of mine owns this company, although I don't work for him or get paid for mentioning the shoes.
  • 0

#14 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2922 posts
  • LA, Ca

Posted 03 May 2006 - 01:10 PM

REALLY huge amount of Quoting



PLEASE folks you don't need to quote the whole message.

Also let's limit the advertising especially if you have a low post count and haven't introduced yourslef
  • 0

#15 Sam Cao

Sam Cao

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts

Posted 27 January 2007 - 06:23 AM

Gents--

From my personal experience, as both a Steadicam Operator for fifteen (15) years and a Workshop Instructor for fourteen (14), I can say that everyone and their individual situatiion is unique.

Having said that, I can speak from years of experience fitting Workshop students into the Vest, that if you wear the Vest correctly and know the proper and correct use of the personal adjustments of the Arm to Vest interface, you will minimize the chances of "bad" things happening.

That of course, does not include "bad" advice from 1st ADs and producers who know little or nothing about how we really "work."

I can also suggest from my personal experience that you learn how to move your whole body. My mother is a ballerina and let me tell you there is little in this world that can not benefit from some dance classes and specific analysis and instruction about how to move your body "correctly" with regard to executing a Steadicam shot.

When I began my Steadicam career, I spent months practicing in front of mirrors in my mother's dance studio. No tights or pink little slippers, just me, the Rig, and some exercises. Hours per day. Really.

Who can say how your individual experience may turn out.

Seriously consider all aspects of what goes into your body with careful concern on nutrition and hydration.

If something hurts, stop and find out why. Take steps to correct or eliminate those elements which do not enhance your skills. Write it down and keep track of your overall performance. Years later this may prove invaluable.

And try not to forget to have some fun. Safety is number one. Great shots and bar stories come way down the list.

Good luck!

Best,

Brant S. Fagan, SOC
Steadicam/Camera Operator



I am wondering you could help to introduce a Steadicam Trainer who will have time for a week during April to June 2007, to go to Hanoi Capital, Vietnam to conduct a training of Stedicam Ultra2 for the beginners. Thank you for your help. Sam
  • 0




Boland Communications

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

SkyDreams

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Engineered Cinema Solutions

PLC - Bartech

Varizoom Follow Focus

Wireless Video Systems

GPI Pro Systems

Teradek

PLC Electronics Solutions

IDX

Omnishot Systems

Paralinx LLC

BOXX

Betz Tools for Stabilizers