DEFINITION September 2022 - Web


There have never been more ways to hold a camera. We consider the most ingenious tech on the market for keeping everything steady

WORDS. Phil Rhodes

M odern active stabilisation has made nearly anything a capable camera platform: dune buggies, fighter jets, people – even unsuspecting domesticated animals, if a director is feeling innovative. That’s made some classic grip tools useful in unexpected ways, while novel ideas abound. If there’s one great example of that kind of combination, it’s Steadicam – a design that’s found a whole new range of uses, as a way to support an actively stabilised camera. Garrett Brown’s original approach was probably the first to make gimbals a common part of the film production vernacular. Steadicams feature a gimbal in a rather different sense than we often use the word in 2022. But the Volt, which emerged in 2017 on the Steadicam M-1, found an unobtrusive way to add active stabilisation to the original design. Volt greatly eases some common concerns around holding level horizons and sharp tilt angles,

without introducing instability in the pan axis, given the tendency for a conventionally balanced sled to swing back towards level – and the amount of input necessary to counteract that. Operators could always choose to rebalance the sled neutrally, or balance out its impulse to consistently tilt up or down, but were then stuck with that choice for the whole shot. Volt makes this adjustable on the fly. When the company supplemented the M-1 with a lightweight M-2 in 2019, the Volt add-on became more available to smaller, broadcast- orientated set-ups. In situations like sports broadcasting, the potential to ease operator fatigue – even offsetting its effects – is not to be overlooked. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Garrett Brown’s seventies design is one of the most flattered in filmmaking. Although it’s fair to say that improvements were somewhat incremental until the advent of active stabilisation. Designer Curt O. Schaller,

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Arri recently announced the next-gen Artemis 2 (right) and Trinity 2 stabilisers


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