Steadicam’s contribution to the broadcast and film industries is well-known. Becoming a top operator is an ambition for many film school students or camera assistants working their way up. However, Steadicam is not ‘put on and go’, it requires training and practice to be able to produce results. Would-be operators recently took a Tiffen Gold Steadicam workshop course to better-understand what it can do.
There are three Tiffen workshop levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Gold is a residential, five-and-a-half day, total immersion experience for a group of 12 to 20, from raw beginners to experienced operators wishing to improve their techniques. The venue for the most recent event in November 2016 was the Beaumont Conference Hotel, Windsor, Berkshire. The workshop was very much hands-on with plenty of practical time being spent wearing and using the system. The workshop culminated in a ‘test’ shot of considerable complexity, recorded and critiqued in a group analysis session.
Instructors at Steadicam workshops are highly-competent Steadicam operators, hand-picked by Tiffen for their operating skills, communication abilities and enthusiasm for instruction. This time the students received personal instruction from highly skilled and experienced operators. These included: Peter Robertson BSC ACO (Edge Of Tomorrow, Anna Karenina, Quantum Of Solace, Atonement); Paul Edwards BSC ACO (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Harry Potter (various), Run Fatboy Run, Apple Tree Yard); and David Crute, who has years of experience shooting television dramas.
Robin Thwaites, Tiffen International sales director, and Danny Hallett, Tiffen’s European sales manager, advised on all aspects of Steadicam choice, set-up, operation and accessories.
The workshops drew students from many countries, including the UK, Netherlands, Macau, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Angola, Austria, Iceland, Slovakia and Lithuania.
Matthew Barauskas from Lithuania, said, “I don’t own a rig and this was my first course, which I loved. This has to be the only way in. If you rent a rig you’re going to make mistakes and get into bad habits. These guys are professionals – this has to be the best way to learn.
Elva Sara Ingvarsdóttir from Iceland commented, “I finished film school at the end of 2008 and have been working as a 1st AC and 2nd AC since then. This workshop was really good, with the best instructors, and I learned a lot from all of them. I’m definitely going to pursue this further and getting my own rig is going to be the first thing I do.” Ingvarsdóttir purchased her first rig in January 2017, and is the first female owner/operator of the Steadicam M-1 rig.