Luiz Henrique Valente Soares

holding a steadicamCamera sliders lend a smooth, floating quality to cinematography and allows camera operators freedom of movement. With a camera slider, shots replicate the perspective of an invisible fly on the wall, or gracefully take viewers directly into the middle of the action. As weightless as the final shot appears, holding a steadicam and operating it properly takes a great deal of physical, mechanical and creative skill. Map your shot beforehand. Steadicam shots usually follow an established path; before you’re ready to hold the Steadicam, it’s important to know the route you’re taking to get the shot, noting any obstacles along the way. Balance the rig properly. Adjust the vertical and horizontal balance by moving the gimbal (the pivoted support holding the Steadicam’s arm) up or down the sled (the center post on which the arm is mounted). Think of the sled as a pencil balanced atop your finger; adding weight to either end means you must adjust the center of gravity. When properly balanced, the camera should stay entirely stable without being touched. Check the rig. Shake the rig to check for wobbles (they could ruin your shot). If the rig is screwed in tightly and still wobbles, used double-sided tape between the camera mount plates and the camera bottom for security. Make sure there are no loose cables inhibiting your movement, and mind your cable slack–too much slack will trip you, while too little slack will stop you in your tracks. Hold the rig sideways, supporting it by the gimbal and letting it swing freely. If your balance is correct, the Steadicam falls slowly when titled to the side. Hold the camera away from your body so it rests in front of you as you move. Think of the camera as a full glass of water held before you and concentrate on not spilling a drop. Grip the steadicam with two hands for increased precision. Use your dominant hand to lightly hold and direct the arm. With your other hand, lightly grip your thumb and forefinger around the sled just under the gimbal. Always keep this hand below the gimbal, even if operating in low mode or drop mode (positions in which the camera is upside down). This initial position should feel comfortable and light; if it feels strained, your positioning is probably wrong. Open and close your thumb and forefinger gently to manipulate the gimbal and change the angle of the shot. Move your dominant hand slightly up, down, left or right (without straining your fingers) to pan the camera. Keep inertia in mind; a Steadicam rig is heavier at the top than the bottom. When accelerating, the heavy bottom pivots the gimbal, causing the camera to tilt downward. When decelerating, inertia makes the camera tilt upward. Lean to anticipate inertia and prevent wobbly shots. Never try too hard to control the Steadicam with force from your hands. Remember, the purpose of the Steadicam is to separate the camera’s movements from your own.