What is a Steadicam Operator?
A Steadicam is a camera stabilizing system used to capture tracking shots with motion picture cameras. A Steadicam Operator is an individual who is responsible for setting up the Steadicam, and capturing the footage for the production.
What is the Job?
Before Steadicams were invented, smooth moving shots had to be prepared through a very time consuming rigging of a lot of bulky tracking equipment. Nowadays, even though it’s much easier, operating a Steadicam still requires plenty of expertise and physical effort. A Steadicam is a system that keeps the camera operators movements smooth regardless of how fast the operator is moving, or how bumpy the surface that the camera is on is. Steadicam Operators are responsible for the equipment they operate, which sometimes is actually their own.
The equipment that a Steadicam Operator is in charge of usually weights around 40kg and it has to be worn for long periods while performing movement, so excellent physical fitness is essential.
As with all Camera Operators, they work with the Director, the DoP, the 1st AC and the 1st AD in order to get instructions about the scene and the relative shots, to keep them in focus and make sure everything runs smoothly.
It takes time to tune a Steadicam and to balance a camera on it – Steadicam Operators have to be as experienced as they are patient, and take care of this part of the job before filming. Then, whilst shooting (usually walking or even running, sometimes backwards) they have to be agile and avoid the risks that carrying around a 40kg piece of equipment on a set involves.
- A good sense of visuals and composition.
- Good knowledge of different kinds of lenses and equipment.
- Ability to keep up to date with the latest technology.
- Knowledge of systems such as remote focus, video senders and receivers.
- Strength, coordination and good physical health.
- Good communication.
- Attention to detail, quick thinking and problem solving.
Salary & Working Hours
The working hours for a Steadicam Operator will vary depending on the type of production you’re working on and the studio you are working for. You should expect to work longer hours when deadlines are approaching. In terms of the salary, this will depend on how advanced and experienced you are, and again the type of production you are working on (size, profile, etc.).
How To Become a Steadicam Operator
To become a Steadicam Operator, you won’t need any specific qualifications, but having hands on experience and relevant knowledge and skills will put you in a better position. If you can gain work experience within the camera department then this will provide you will the required skills you need. In order to specialise as a Steadicam Operator, you will need to work your way up the ranks of the Camera Department. You will likely start as a Camera Trainee, then move on to 2nd AC, 1st AC and eventually Camera Operator. At this stage, you can then opt to specialise in operating specific equipment such as Steadicams.
Where Can It Take You?
There is no set career path for a Steadicam Operator in terms of career advancement, however, the skills and experience you gain in this role will undoubtedly provide you with the right attributes to work in many other roles in the Camera department.
Become an Steadicam Operator
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Steadicam Operator vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.