In a Late Style of Steadicam

Few know the debt owed to Garrett Brown, inventor of the steadicam, for allowing us, as part of our film language, which has become part of our noetic language, to float smoothly through three-dimensional space and inhabit, finally, a point of view (the vogue hand-held shot is in response to the steadicam’s classicism, I imagine). It was this innovation—to make an ungrounded generalization—that gave film its true textual status, allowing us to be inhabitants of a film rather than spectators. So here is a compilation of the top 50 steadicam shots, as rated over at, with a pretty good pirated soundtrack.

The Art of Steadicam from Refocused Media on Vimeo.

But if you don’t have 10 minutes, then from an historical perspective, this is the one to see, the first ever, from the Woodie Guthre biopic, Bound for Glory (1976). The technique here isn’t dated at all, and because of the throng of people in the work camp through whose midst we move with the camera, you can see what an incredible advance this is, how once the camera becomes an extension of the operator, it appears to disappear.