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How to become a steadycam op


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#1 ScottUhlfelder

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 08:55 AM

I am currently a film student at University of Central Florida and I am intersted in becoming a steadycam operator. I was wondering if any of you hadtips or sugestions in getting experience as an op or if there is some sort of certification process to go through. Also are the workshops offered a good thing for a beginner to try to attend? I still have afew years left in school and it seems that if you have a good skill such as a background in steadycam it may be easier to get jobs I may be completly wrong on that. Any suggestions or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 Anthony Hardwick

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 10:34 AM

It's been said many times before in answer to your question... a workshop is a great investment for a variety of reasons. First, you will get quite a bit of time flying quite a few rigs over the course of the workshop. You will learn how to properly set up and balance a rig. You will learn about the principles of how a steadicam works. You will be taught by professional steadicam operators with extensive experience in the industry. You will learn very quickly whether or not it's something that you want to further pursue. If you do choose to pursue learning more, you will have gotten off on the right track perhaps saving any number of bad habits from being developed. There are plenty of other reasons, but that should suffice for now. If you can come up with the cash and time to take a workshop, it will be money and tiime well spent - even if you decide that you hate steadicam and never want to fly one again. Think of all the money you will have saved over jumping in and buying some gear and THEN finding that out!

Good luck.
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#3 guillermo nespolo

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 02:31 PM

yes the workshop must be number one on the list...
first cause u only speand 2000 and u get the experince of what is to be a steadicam operator ...
and secon u can meet with guys like jerry halway , larry or MISTER GARRET....
(do it in philadelphia ) great food great people near of garret an jerry home
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#4 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 10:50 PM

You need LOTS of experience on the set first!!!

Become a PA when you graduate and go from there.

A business student doesn't graduate from college and get a job as the director of operations at a large (any) business right away. He/she starts at the bottom and LEARNS everything about the business first....then moves up!
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#5 RobVanGelder

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 12:34 AM

Michael, I totally agree with you. However, nowadays it seems that there are more and more people jumping in on a higher level then before, experience or not.
And there are others that allow them, producers that give 22 year olds director status, fresh graduates that hardly made the exams from the film academy are torpedoed into DoP status, I´ve seen that happening a lot.
Does the work and result get any better with that? Not at all I am sure. Such DoP´s have no real outside experience, have not seen solutions and lighting from (international) DoP´s and as such are not able to get much better. They will stay in the same routines as they learned (themselves) at school.
(of course there are always exceptions, natural talents)

With Steadicam it is basically the same. When you´ve got the money, or a family that supports you in that, you buy a rig and voilá, you are an operator.
I´ve said it before when another guy had a similar question, but then I got the impression that some other people defended this way of getting into the trade.

I still stand by my point of view: it will take years of looking at others, in all kinds of lower qualified jobs, to be able to become a valuable member of the camera-crew and as a operator/DoP.

Rob van Gelder, Bangkok, Thailand
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#6 David Allen Grove

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 10:29 AM

If you can come up with the cash and time to take a workshop, it will be money and tiime well spent - even if you decide that you hate steadicam and never want to fly one again.  Think of all the money you will have saved over jumping in and buying some gear and THEN finding that out!

Good luck.

That is exactly what I did!

Well, actually I bought a Steadicam JR about a year prior and I liked that so much I took a workshop to see if I could handle the big ones.

I remember very well that only 3 out of the 8 SOA workshop students passed on the first try back in 94'. I was one of them. Bill Geirhart and Marcus Cole were the other two.

Steadicam isn't as easy as we make it look. Both operating and being able to afford it. It's EXTREMELY expensive and the market is flooded with steadicam opeartors. This has caused rates to really drop.

I'm not going to say, "I'm not trying to scare you" because... I am. I know of at least 4 people who had to sell their steadicams both new and used and wound up taking a big financial hit because they weren't able to get enough work. It's a tough business.. but if you REALLY want it bad enough. Take the workshop, then decide.
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#7 George Grammatikos

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 04:50 PM

in the workshop you will start learn how to flying a steadicam and you will start learning how to control and develop your body and your muscles but before that you must have big experience off framming and filming so you have space in your mind to concentrate only in flying steadicam ,when you will be ready then is a visa versa (you will concentrate in your frame and in actors movement and you will fly more by instict) ,Also the enervation and your reaction when you are operating will be bigger than you expect (just remember that you are carry a heavy load and you have to dance with it ) if you enervate yourself in the set this will be a destruction
and believe me thats happen verry easy and verry often then you must have the experience to cool down and concentrate to your job and always with a big smile in your face!
thats for start
Good luck
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#8 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 08:00 AM

With Steadicam it is basically the same. When you´ve got the money, or a family that supports you in that, you buy a rig and voilá, you are an operator.

Yes, Ron you are right, that more and more people are just "jumping" into higher positions. But the question you need to ask is..."how's 95% of them doing in their careers?"

Like ANY business, VERY few of those people (inexperiencd workers who jump to higher positions) make it. And the ones who do, had that "natural talent" you were refering.

And I totally disagree with your above quoted comment. Buying a Steadicam DOES NOT make you an operator. Just like buying a race car doesn't make you a race car driver, or buying a light meter doesn't make you a DP, or....

People will QUICKLY learn whose trying to fool whom.

And, going to film school CAN teach you the basics in lighting, directing, etc etc...enough to get jobs as those positions on smaller projects.
But as a Steadicam Operator, we are specialized technicians. No film school teaches what is needed here, and the one week course just gives you a chance to get your feet wet and see if this career is for you.

It takes years, and years of on set experience to REALLY know the in's and out's of the filmmaking process. Again, with a VERY SMALL amount of exceptions, the experience IS needed to make a career doing what we do.

And if anybody tries to convince me otherwise, maybe I'll go buy a scalpel, take a one week surgery course, and jump in at a hospital and tell them I'm a surgeon!

For the vast majority of people, there's NO shortcuts to the top, in any profession.
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#9 RobVanGelder

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 11:14 AM

And I totally disagree with your above quoted comment. Buying a Steadicam DOES NOT make you an operator. Just like buying a race car doesn't make you a race car driver, or buying a light meter doesn't make you a DP, or....

Michael, I hope you noticed that this was meant to be ironic.............

We do agree, that´s for sure! :)

Rob van Gelder, Bangkok, Thailand
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#10 Marc_Abernathy

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 04:38 PM

I am currently a film student at University of Central Florida and I am intersted in becoming a steadycam operator. I was wondering if any of you hadtips or sugestions...

FIRST TIP. make sure you spell "Steadicam" correct.
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#11 jay kilroy

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 06:41 PM

Marc,

I didn't want to do it, but I so glad you did. God it was killing me.

jay
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#12 guillermo nespolo

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 06:52 PM

came on jay give the guy a break..... :D :D
have a drink on me ;)
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#13 SimonChamp

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 12:21 PM

I am also in the same situation. I have money for a rig and have gone to a workshop but making the jump seems a bit risky. I want to get a decent rig and just fly it everyday with my DSLR... how do i know I'm good enough?

 

I must have ready the steadicam ( i spelt it with the I don't worry) operators manual about 10 times now.

 

Any tips or the 'do's and font's' from peoples experience?

 

Thanks guys,

 

Simon


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#14 Jake Iesu

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 08:08 PM

You need to do the time. Do a workshop, if after the three or four days you feel like your not getting it then Steadicam is not for you. Sorry Simon there is no shortcuts.
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#15 SimonChamp

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 02:43 AM

Thanks for the reply Jake.

 

I'm just going to get a rig and practise. I really enjoyed the workshop and really felt comfortable with a rig on. The only thing that was holding me back was the time i had flying... i just wanted to have a rig on all day!

 

Simon


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