A Brief History of the Steadicam

When Garrett Brown invented the Steadicam in the 1970s it had an immediate impact on how films were shot.

Before his invention if filmmakers wanted tracking shots (i.e. ones where the camera moves), they were limited to using a dolly track or hand-held work.

After shooting a demo reel with a prototype rig, he caught the attention of Hollywood and it led to work on such films as Bound for Glory (1976), Rocky (1976) and The Shining (1980) as well as an Academy Award of Merit.

Last year at the EG conference Brown gave a talk where he described how he came up with the idea for his revolutionary camera rig and its subsequent applicationĀ in movies, sports broadcasting and industry.

Among the things worth noting are:

  • His father Rodney G Brown invented the ‘hot melt’ glue used in paperback books
  • He was once a folk singer
  • Kubrick’s desire for multiple takes on The Shining helped him become a better operator
  • He teaches Steadicam operators to have a calm demeanor
  • Working on Return of the Jedi (1983) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) helped inspire the SkyCam
  • His work on beer commercials helped fund the SkyCam
  • The original demo for the Steadicam prototype was filmed on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which directly inspired the famous scene in Rocky

> Garrett Brown
> How Steadicams Work at HowStuffWorks
> Steadicam Forum
> Garrett Brown interview with ICG Magazine