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  • Writer's pictureNerys Muller

Steadicams & Stabilizers!

Updated: May 15, 2022

A brief overview of the wearable tech that'll help your cinematography stand out among the rest

Don’t get me wrong, handheld footage can be one of the most beautiful aspects of a visual piece. You’re freely flowing with your subject with slight swaying and perfectly imperfect video, but sometimes ... that’s just not the vibe.

As a DoP or camera operator, steadicams and stabilizers are your best friend!

I’m often performing gigs as a one-woman band, so I always prioritize these run-and-gun setups to give me optimal footage stabilization. Although I’m a fan of documentaries, I don’t want my footage to look like I’m in the middle of guerrilla warfare 24/7 and you never want to count on a Warp Stabilizer tool in your edit.

These two options for stabilization are our industry's go-to's when dealing with one or two-camera operator setups, so it’s super important to get yourself familiar with them.

Let’s start with steadicams!

Steadicams are often bigger and bulkier, usually attaching themselves to a cam-op through a vest and arm mechanism. This vest clamps around your back like a backpack and fastens securely to an overhanging pull-down wire or arm-attached cage.

In some circumstances, you can also see a modified and more complicated glidecam attached to these vests to further stabilize your footage.

Rather than just being the technological tool for stabilizing, a steadicam refers to the entire rig-out.

Often, these rigs handle a three or four-axis stabilizer station, creating the smoothest footage possible for your clients. For commercial shoots and independent film productions, a steadicam (if you have the budget for one) is a sure must-have on your equipment list.

Steadicams can come pre-rigged or DIY, producing the same effect. I’ve done so with a Flycam Master Professional Flowline and placid arm, hooked onto a Ronin-S stabilizer with a dual handle grip: the perfect makeshift steadicam for those on a budget.

Now, we’re on to stabilizers!

As I mentioned earlier, stabilizers are the balancing tech involved in a steadicam, but can also act as independent pieces of rigging equipment to help make sure you’re producing the smoothest motion possible.

This is where we begin to talk about the Zhiyun Cranes, glidecams, and Ronins that fasten quickly to a camera independently from the operator's body. Stabilizers are better for smaller productions such as weddings, real estate shoots, event videography, and so on.

As I mentioned before, I use a Ronin-S stabilizer for my Blackmagic 6K Pro and my Canon 90D, in addition to a DJI Osmo Mobile 3 if I want to shoot casually on my iPhone.

There are loads of stabilizers to rig up your camera gear, but be sure to first evaluate the needs of your production before assembling a stabilizing rig that will work best for you.

We’re seeing more and more of an upgrade in steadicam and stabilizer tech as these wearables are getting smaller and smarter, more easily incorporated into our production set-ups.

So, if you’re a lone cam-op in need of more balanced and steady footage, definitely look into one of these stabilizing methods to help make your video smooth as butter!

For more tech news, equipment reviews, and production tips and tricks, subscribe down below and check out more of our B2Blog articles on the site!

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