Sunday, September 23, 2007

Guiding Steadicam

It's your job to guide (or steer) the steadicam operator through difficult shots. I've worked with the best, and the not-so-good. Generally, you put two fingers under the vest in his/her back and gently guide them back. I also often put a gentle pressure on the opposite hip of the direction I want them to go. When they reach the end, give them a sharp tap on the lower back. Some operators want to be touched very little, some want you to basically carry them through the shot. On all of them, unless asked not to, I will at least put a gentle pressure on their lower back for psychological reassurance. You are responsible, as the "A" dolly grip on the show, for their safety. If something goes wrong, and they are in any kind of danger, stop the shot. The same goes for working on the dolly. Don't forget that your job is the safety of the operator. If they are in any kind of danger, speak up. Stop the shot until the situation is rectified. I'll write a column later on gunshots and car work, but most of this is common sense. When an operator has his eye, or attention focused in the lens or on a monitor, they depend on you to watch out for them. Don't be intimidated into letting a shot go on because you're afraid of blowing a take. While it sounds a little strange, a bond of trust is formed between you and the operator and they need to know that you are looking out for them. The same goes for handheld, which I addressed in an earlier column.

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