“The Garden Dancer” | A Lesson in Steadicam and Teamwork

The highly technical skill of operating a Steadicam requires a team of trained professionals and specialized gear, and the mechanism yields dynamic scenes with movie-quality footage that the public see in their favorite movies and tv shows.

Created in the mid-70s by Garrett Brown, the Steadicam is a gimbal and spring system that stabilizes high-end cinema cameras for moving shots. The rig is used on sets for movies, television shows, commercials, and documentaries — although not often seen with local productions.

One of our favorite Steadicam shots is the famous hallway fight scene from Marvel’s “Daredevil”. Check out the link below.

This action-packed scene is made possible by a Steadicam.

You can film immersive scenes, walk-and-talk interviews, chase scenes, POV shots, and following shots with a Steadicam.

We have had a Steadicam in our gear closet for some time but just recently had the opportunity to take it out on a project. Have a look and enjoy this WIP project entitled “The Garden Dancer” with our Steadicam team, produced after hours at the beautiful Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Piper Pelletier stars in “The Garden Dancer” by Davis de Dios Media

A fun fact about balancing a Steadicam rig is that the proper drop-down speed is three seconds! Here is a fun video of our Canon C300mkii balanced on top of a Steadicam.

C300mkii balanced on top of our Steadicam rig. Hold your breath.

Our Steadicam allows us to use our amazing Xeen cinema lenses in motion. However, because the lenses are machine crafted and completely manual we need to use a wireless follow-focus system.

Our wireless follow-focus system consists of the Hollyland Cosmo C1 wireless transmitter and receiver, the Nucleus Nano Wireless Lens Control System, and our trusty Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor.

Kris Yanez, first assistant camera, nailed some really difficult shots on “The Garden Dancer”. In scenes that require a lot of movement maintaining focus throughout the shot is difficult and requires planning and instinct.

Another reason our company uses a Steadicam is because of the superior audio we can capture. Since our cinema camera, which sits on top of the Steadicam, has XLR inputs we are able to hardwire a boom mic into the camera.

Piper was photographed in the Butterfly Magic greenhouse using two StellaPro Lights Reflex S.

Here are a few tips we would like to share with anyone who is interested in using a Steadicam during production.

1. Balance your camera and Steadicam rig before arriving on location. The process of balancing takes time, so It is best to do the heavy lifting before you arrive on location.

2. Predetermine your talent’s marks before you shoot your scene so that your focus puller has an idea of where the focus is going to be. On that note, don’t be afraid to shoot multiple takes.

3. Make sure the dials on your Steadicam arm are properly calibrated.

If you or your company is interested in Steadicam operation for your shoot in Arizona, please feel free to contact us!