Why do I want to use steadicam on my project?
The short answer is that steadicam is the quickest, most efficient way of adding moving shots to your project.
Dynamic, moving camera shots inherently add production value to your project. A moving camera allows you to exploit more of your sets or locations than just leaving the camera locked off on sticks, while eliminating the urgency and instability of handheld shots. The steadicam allows you to achieve any shot you could capture with a dolly, but allows your talent to work without the constraints created by having dolly track laid throughout the set. Additionally unlike a dolly, steadicam’s more liberal range of movement is able to capture a greater degree of the spontaneity in the performance of the talent. It’s much more difficult to capture “that moment” you didn’t expect the actor to add to the scene when your dolly grip is trying to stop a 600 lb vehicle on a dime and neither your operator nor focus puller were ready for it. A good steadicam operator is trained for that moment and has a level of ability to improvise on set with the actors that is just not feasible 3 to 4 person dolly crew. There is also the significant time saving factor of employing a steadicam operator over a dolly crew, which translates directly into lowering the cost of your production. I once heard a 1st AD tell a DP on set that “Every time you say ‘dolly’ it costs me two hours.”
The steadicam fits into much smaller places than a dolly. Sure you could send an operator into that small space with a handheld or shoulder mounted camera, but what if the scene doesn’t call for the “urgency” implied by handheld camerawork? At that point, without steadicam, you’re faced with making the decision to compromise on the visual language of your project in order to work around a specific location. In most cases the steadicam alleviates this concern.
At the end of the day, the steadicam is the most expedient, cost effective means of realizing your vision for your production. It affords a level of emotional connection to the images, as well as creates a deeper interest for your audience. It saves you time, and money on set, and allows you to have a range of creative freedom to capture the images you imagined when you drew out your storyboards, and oftentimes better than you imagined they could be.