From a helmet cam on a steadicam
June 1, 2012 12:49 AM   Subscribe

A 'Steadicam' shot from the operator's POV. Larry McConkey (who has worked with a 'Steadicam' before (the through-the-kitchen-into-the-Copa-club scene from 'Goodfellas')), put a helmet-cam on his Steadicam to film the making of this scene from "Hugo."
posted by From Bklyn (35 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like how the wall (and the dresser?) moves back to let the camera get the right shot.
posted by devnull at 1:00 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like how the movie would probably be much more visually interesting if they hadn't washed out all the colors and replaced them with teal and orange.
posted by barnacles at 1:06 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like how Sacha Baron Cohen's cue is "NOW!!" while everything else just happens fluidly around him.
posted by Potsy at 1:24 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh and my favorite work of McConkey's is definitely the opening of Snake Eyes. Not a great movie, but it had a terrific opening and amazing camera work throughout.
posted by Potsy at 1:27 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was hoping against the odds of finding the finished scene on youtube, but stumbled on something billed as "Most ridiculously awesome steadicam shot ever". I had to click.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [20 favorites]


-harlequin-, my life is now complete.
posted by maxwelton at 2:22 AM on June 1, 2012


It looks like the take is the one in the final cut (I just compared both clips side by side and the timing and actors' movements match exactly as far as I can tell) but in the movie the camera lingers and zooms in on the automaton after 1'38" (when the operator says "woof" and pulls out) so the last seconds of the shot must have been added in post-production. Movie magic!
posted by elgilito at 2:38 AM on June 1, 2012


I saw it last week, it's amazing i wish more operators would do things like that. You learn so much more about the making of a movie by watching this video, than by the countless boring making-of feature where everyone just congratulates one another.
posted by SageLeVoid at 2:54 AM on June 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


I appreciate Scorcese making it live, considering the opening swoop shot was mainly CGI.

My favourite steadicam is this music video. Warning: mullet!
posted by arzakh at 4:22 AM on June 1, 2012


Russian Ark (wikipedia) is essentially one very long steadicam shot. The dvd comes with some background on the production, and though I don't know much about the film biz my feeling is that the steadicam operator is basically the Michael Jordan of steadicam.
posted by victory_laser at 4:27 AM on June 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Great movie and great little video. Thanks for sharing.
posted by crunchland at 5:00 AM on June 1, 2012


I love hearing him let out his breath at the end of the shot. It's got to be stressful has hell to film a shot like that.
posted by octothorpe at 5:15 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love hearing him let out his breath at the end of the shot. It's got to be stressful has hell to film a shot like that.

It's not only stressful, it's incredibly physically demanding. I'm pretty sure that's why he's letting out his breath like that.

Although you strip down the camera as much as you can, nice prime lenses are extremely big and a fully built motion picture camera, even when configured for Steadicam or handheld is shockingly heavy. Like, every time I pick one up I am surprised even though I should be used to it by now.

When you operate handheld, the center of gravity is directly over your spine, making it relatively easy to deal with. A Steadicam functions by transferring the camera's center of gravity to the center of the sled pole, essentially 2 feet out from your body, and then transfers all that weight to your body via the harness. So imagine holding a 25-30 pound weight 2-3 feet out from your body, using only the muscles in your torso. Now walk around with it for 3 minutes, all the time keeping it perfectly smooth.

Needless to say, there is no such thing as an overweight Steadicam operator. The job is HARD.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:07 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Russian Ark was the steadicam shot to end all steadicam shots. And a pretty good movie too.

The best story I heard on the final take was the operator at about the 1 hour mark during the dance scene basically told his focus puller that he was going to collapse and had to stop and the guy misheard him so they just kept shooting and eventually got to the end and THEN he fell over. Which important lesson is, when you really have to stop, you have no choice because your body will stop moving; everything before then is your brain trying to fuck with you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:13 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is so great. I love real making-of videos that show what an incredible house of cards it is to pull off simple-looking shots.
posted by odinsdream at 6:16 AM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway the reason Cohen gets an audio cue is because he can't be looking or even glancing at the camera to see when it is in place for him to stand up, and only the operator knows for sure when the camera is in the right place.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:22 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yay Russian Ark! One of my favorites.
posted by pashdown at 6:26 AM on June 1, 2012


in the movie the camera lingers and zooms in on the automaton after 1'38" (when the operator says "woof" and pulls out) so the last seconds of the shot must have been added in post-production.

As an editor, I actually said that to myself while watching. "WTF? He didn't hold the end of the shot?" Because all too many cameramen tend to drop a shot way too early.

Luckily for Scorsese, he has a gazillion dollar post budget that could fix anything. I'm surprised they didn't just leave the "movable wall" out and fix that in post as well.
posted by fungible at 6:50 AM on June 1, 2012


That was INCREDIBLE. Amazing. Wow!
posted by gen at 7:33 AM on June 1, 2012


The wall sliding back at 1:05 was just fantastic. Considering the story of "Hugo" and the illusions behind films, that little piece was wonderful.
posted by phong3d at 7:47 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to be a boom operator and I think I just started hyperventilating from anxiety watching that.
posted by chococat at 7:49 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, I forgot to add the counterweights that you put on to artificially lower the center of gravity down the arm... so you have the weight of the camera, lens, rods, mattebox, follow focus, batteries, monitor, media or film if you're shooting film, plus counterweights to lower the center of gravity, plus the weight of the arm itself. Plus nowadays you have to add whatever else you need to shoot 3d.

Here's a blog post with a Steadicam op all excited that he got a fully loaded 3d rig down to 52 lbs (from 75 lbs).

All that 2 feet out from your body supported only by the muscles in your torso.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:59 AM on June 1, 2012


nathancaswell: ...All that 2 feet out from your body supported only by the muscles in your torso.

ARARGGH! All right! I'll talk! I'll tell you anything you want!
posted by gilrain at 8:14 AM on June 1, 2012


1) That was great.
2) Movies are ridiculous. Imagine all those people having those fake conversations and none of them can look at the camera.
posted by DU at 8:37 AM on June 1, 2012


MetaFilter: all those people having those fake conversations and none of them can look at the camera.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:41 AM on June 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


When the guy pulled back the dresser, I was like, "Cool, it's like that shot in Citizen Kane!" And then the whole wall pulled back and my head exploded. Way cool.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2012


I laughed out loud when the wall opened.

I also need to give props to the boom operator for ducking under all those transoms.
posted by RobotHero at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2012


Plus nowadays you have to add whatever else you need to shoot 3d.

Also the extra fisheye camera to film the making-of featurette for the DVD.
posted by dgaicun at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2012



I used to be a boom operator and I think I just started hyperventilating from anxiety watching that.


I've held a boom like...four times in my life and even I got tense watching that (FEET! WATCH YOUR FEET!)
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2012


harliequin, here's another version of that incredible steadicam shot, in which the original and the behind-the-scene's versions are linked (rather than running side by side).
posted by Bill Peschel at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2012


I used to be a boom operator and I think I just started hyperventilating from anxiety watching that.

I've held a boom like...four times in my life and even I got tense watching that (FEET! WATCH YOUR FEET!)


Yes, that; plus a heavy mike on the end of a 15-foot pole, going through doorways; PLUS the constant internal battle between the sound recordist in your ear urging you, "get closer" and the invisible line you hope the edge-of-frame still is, and the hope mixed with dread that your shaking arms don't give a little and you won't hear the DP's pissed off voice saying "CUT! Boom's in the shot!" halfway through a complicated shot like this, forcing 100 people to do it all over again, because of you.
posted by chococat at 1:02 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


who's the guy running with the steadicam operator in the eurovision shot that Bill posted? The focus puller? What can he even do while they are sprinting along? (The Segway to foot...segway (sorry) is incredible)
posted by defcom1 at 2:08 PM on June 1, 2012


I think he's controlling the servo that aims the camera in the right direction.
posted by crunchland at 3:50 PM on June 1, 2012


It's amazing to watch super talented folks do their thing, especially when you know little enough about it to not be worried about technical aspects. Then, one enjoys the beauty of seeing it seamlessly flow.
posted by mightshould at 6:33 PM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


who's the guy running with the steadicam operator in the eurovision shot that Bill posted? The focus puller?

Looks like the focus puller, using a remote follow focus. At that speed he's not pulling focus by eye of the monitor, he's pulling by estimating the distance. The lens is wide enough to get away with that.

I've never seen a steadicam where a servo aims the camera, the operator does that.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:49 AM on June 2, 2012


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