Last Tuesday the university was paid a visit from a past student who is now a camera and steadicam operator with his own Steadicam rig. He gave us a demonstration of the rig, explained how it works and all the parts of it, and then let is all have a go.
His name is Phil Thomas. It was a really good experience and was very fun to use. The balance of it is amazing, if balanced in a certain way the lightest of touches can spin it round. Outside a gust of wind can cause the camera to spin making it a battle to keep it straight sometimes. As long as you keep it in towards your body, you don’t notice the weight much but as soon as the arm moves away from you due to the moments of the weight around the pivot you can begin to feel the weight.
I should probably explain what Steadicam is. It is a metal rig onto which you mount a camera and monitor to allow for smoother more natural movement. The rig consists of a vest, a mechanical arm, and the sled. The camera is mounted on top of the sled. The sled can be balanced so that the camera is either on top or on the bottom. You can adjust parts of the sled to adjust where the centre of gravity is which allows you to change how easy or hard it is to move and return to its upright position. The sled is then connected via a gimble to the arm. The arm is spring loaded which helps to reduce the movement seen from foot steps walking along. The arm is attached to the vest. Although their should be no weight on the shoulders of the vest and often the shoulders don’t touch the wearers shoulders. The arm and vest allows all the weight of the camera, monitor, sled and batteries down through the hips. The vest needs to be done up very tight. It is surprising comfortable and also is very good for your back as even though it can be a hefty weight all of that goes through the hips, and the vest forces you to be stood up straight.