The making of a spectacular steadicam shot
May 31, 2017 6:48 PM   Subscribe

This Steadicam shot from the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 looks great but the making of it is even better.

The other guy is the focus puller. Here's another similar steadicam shot.
posted by Foci for Analysis (19 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
The steadicam rig for Russian Ark is still one of my favorite setups. They are using a beta (as in pre-release, not format) of an HD camera, and multiple battery packs, used for a movie shot in a single continuous take running for an hour and thirty nine minutes.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:01 PM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


The point where he crashes the segway into the stairs and then just keeps running up them is kinda great.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:28 PM on May 31, 2017 [5 favorites]


TIL that focus pullers have to constantly judge the distance between camera and subject, by eye, in order to nail the focus within inches. Fascinating.
posted by zebra at 7:29 PM on May 31, 2017 [7 favorites]


God, I love stuff like this. This is one of my personal favorites that I recently came across (they show how the shot was made first, and then the actual shot).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:38 PM on May 31, 2017 [13 favorites]


focus pullers have to constantly judge the distance between camera and subject, by eye

What? How did I not know this! All of a sudden "Focus you fuck!" doesn't sound as funny..
posted by Chuckles at 7:45 PM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


I had wondered what the guy running after him was doing.

Somehow I don't think AvE employs a focus puller, though.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:50 PM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


Somehow I don't think AvE employs a focus puller, though.

Well ya, but in the context of that sex dolls post... Just for fair and balanced reporting though, AvE is sometimes nice to his camera.
I really really wouldn't have continued this derail, but the very next thing I did was hear AvE say thank you to his camera.. The Fates can not be resisted!!
posted by Chuckles at 7:54 PM on May 31, 2017


I had a heated conversation with a high school friend who went on to MIT and an engineer who refused to believe what I did for a living (pull focus).

Until the advent of digital cinema, when it was all film you also had virtually no idea of the outcome until the next morning when the photo lab gave a report to the DP. Really all they are wanting to know is, is the exposure good and is it IN FOCUS!

Oh the years of sweat and stress in that job is unbelievable

To be honest, that steadicam shot is quite straight forward, you would be surprised what some guys have done in the throws of creativity.
posted by silsurf at 8:11 PM on May 31, 2017 [7 favorites]


I have grown to not really like elaborate steady cam shots. They screw with my suspension of disbelief. I get distracted and start imagining the camera person and the director and the lighting etc. etc. I really did not like all that one long camera shot stuff from Birdman for instance. To each his own. The first one I was aware of, not so much steady cam as shakey cam, was a long following scene in Raising Arizona. I didn't mind it then but these days.....
posted by Pembquist at 8:27 PM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]


All I can think of is Better Call Saul
posted by slipthought at 8:33 PM on May 31, 2017


At the mention of"eurovision" and "steadicam" I instantly started hearing "oh my darling angel" in my head from having watched and shared it a bit too many times years ago.

No, i didn't watch it again. I'm right tho, aren't i
posted by tigrrrlily at 9:41 PM on May 31, 2017


This Steadicam shot from the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 looks great but the making of it is even better. The other guy is the focus puller. Here's another similar steadicam shot.
posted by Foci for Analysis

Epo ... you know how it goes.
posted by Wordshore at 1:05 AM on June 1, 2017 [2 favorites]


I watched that and thought 'that looks better choreographed than what was going on with the performers' - especially the Segway crash - and was immediately sucked into a rabbit hole of meta, imagining a ballet where each performer had a GoPro or two strapped to them with the feeds mixed in real time and projected onto each other...

Tell me some experimental troupe has done this. Please.
posted by Devonian at 5:43 AM on June 1, 2017


I'm right tho, aren't i

Yep.
posted by zebra at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2017


Maybe a dumb question, but there isn't some kind of autofocus system they can use? The one on my DSLR is so advanced I can barely understand it.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2017


The one on your SLR focuses "through the lens". There's a mirror that flips up to allow light to go through the lens, to specialized sensors. When you want to take the picture, the mirror flips up and it takes is. So you couldn't use a system like that on a film camera, really, because it's capturing all the time. Maybe you could with a clever system of rotating mirrors and stuff, but, not simply.

The other kind of focusing is to focus digitally, by capturing digital video and running algorithms on it to try to make it in focus. This is pretty slow - your SLR can probably do this to, and it's how ever P&S and crappy video camera works. It's the source of AvE's "focus, you fuck!" outburts - i.e. it sucks pretty hard.

But beyond that the question is, "focus on what?" Your SLR tries to figure out for you what you want in focus but focus in moving pictures is a little more complicated. In a single shot you might want to start focused on the background, shift focus to person1 and then shift again to person2. There's no way for any automated system to know that this is what you want.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2017 [1 favorite]


> Maybe a dumb question, but there isn't some kind of autofocus system they can use? The one on my DSLR is so advanced I can barely understand it.


Depends on objective and framing - if you always want what is in the center of the shot in focus, autofocus can help, however it can also ruin the shot if it misfires and bumps out of focus at the wrong time.

The other way to think of it is: if you are staging the shot, and spending all that money to get it done, would you trust autofocus tech to not fuck it up or a practitioner whose done it a million times and can do run throughs to test with it? If you're going to do autofocus with a controlled planned route, you need to have a very specifically tracked route and motion controlled cameras (so the computer controlling the autofocus knows at all times exactly the distance between it and the subject) - and thats solution people use all the time, but then its a dolly and rig system, which is counter to the benefits of steadicam - go anywhere, need no setup.

(But if you notice, the video linked by AlonzoMosleyFBI looks like it relies on autofocus because there isn't a focus puller following the cameraman)
posted by mrzarquon at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2017


(But if you notice, the video linked by AlonzoMosleyFBI looks like it relies on autofocus because there isn't a focus puller following the cameraman)

In the system being advertised there, the person carrying the camera is just a camera-truck, a camera-drone even. The person/people pointing the camera are doing it wirelessly, the way you might point a servo-ed security camera. How many people are operating the camera remotely though, is a great question. Two? More than two?
posted by Chuckles at 5:07 PM on June 1, 2017


On the Movi platform, there are remote controls for pan and tilt and taps for iris and focus motors. You can add channels for other on-camera control. Focus-pullers on these systems can have a low-latency high-def monitor that they can pull to, and often a digital (sonar-based) rangefinder.

Like Chuckles says, the camera operator is just a biped support system for the Movi, and in fact, the Movi was initially an active-servo pan/tilt gimbal for mounting on drones. Some firmware changes and a set of handles, and you have an active stabilizer.
posted by tomierna at 12:25 PM on June 2, 2017


« Older Dig This   |   In Motion, But Staying in Place at the Same Time Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments