Working As A Steadicam Operator Might Be The Toughest Job On Television

Working and operating a Steadicam is tough work. The most ridiculously awesome steadicam shot ever probably proved that without a shadow of a doubt, but we have even more proof! The following video follows steadicam superhero Niclas Närwall as he captures shot after shot on the set of Let's Dance. If you've ever been on a set with one of these guys you know how much stress goes into their whole bodies over the course of a full day (buying them beers afterwards is a given). At least Karsten Jacobsen had a Segway to help give his legs a break! Some of these shots are pretty remarkable and some might go a bit overboard with the floating camera effect. What do you guys think; what is your favorite shot?

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and here I'm thinking it's hard to balance a Stedicam Merlin.... wow. These shots MAKE these shows like this... without these type of shots the shows would be ALOT less interesting. Incredible work, and definitely takes incredible talent to work one of these rigs.

Wao! Very impressive. I'm surprised they didn't have a backup guy for resting periods.  He covered the entire perimeter from on camera talent, dancers, judges, and audience. Not to mentioned the bump-in and out shots. As he was shooting at a precise angle, he was already preparing himself for the next shot simultaneously.  LIVE!  People in the control room must love this guy. Especially the director. Wao! Thanks for posting this video. I really enjoyed it.

Now that takes proper skill, my hat's off to these guys and girls..


Nicholas Gonzalez's picture

That guy is the man! The steadycam operator is incredibly vital to the dynamics of the show! I actually learned a lot from the video too. Notice how he aligns his foot directly in front of the other to reduce the wobble we naturally create when walking. Hey, every little thing helps. :)

Matteo Domenico's picture

I noticed the foot alignment too, and the first thing I thought was: "damn, how the hell can he do this and not trip himself???"

Marvin Hagemeister's picture

Mind = blown! This guy is amazing! Love his shoots!

He's one of the reasons why James Cameron did all the handheld shots himself EXCEPT steadicam, on Avatar.. That shit is hard!

Nick Shek's picture

It's like dancing itself. His footwork is pretty impressive.

Nathan Cain's picture

My vote goes to the thai steadycam op that filmed the continuous 4 minute fight scene in Ong Bak.  4 flights of stairs, dozens of marks to hit to avoid being hit by thrown objects and stuntmen, backwards up stairs all with a 35mm camera.  BTS on the dvd claim the first 2 or 3 guys to try couldn't get the timing down, and that the final cameraman trained for a month for this one scene.  The final scene was the fifth and last take.  As mentioned the DVD has more info, but here is the scene.

Awesome ! Lots of hard work, and Id say it's probably a short career for his back.

That dude is the real deal.  One shot he was in a full on run to get in front of the dancers and it was flawless.   His quick turns with the stops dead on are incredible.  One of the most impressive things, besides tripping or running into other camera ops, is keeping the subject dead center of the frame when he's rotating around them.  That is HARD!  that guy is like a robot with some nice ease in's and ease outs! awesome stuff!

Wow... the comments above say it all !

This is a great steadicam op. but you must know the secret why he makes it look so good? Ok yes he must have been doing this for a very long time but look at the camera. Notice something strange about it? That is a TV camera and it does not record to tape or media. It just send a signal to a control room. That setup with lens, body, transmitter, and monitor may only weight 15 pounds max. Its not that bad to carry a setup like this. I have done it for a couple hours and you gets alot of breaks even being live. Sorry to burst the bubble. 

Now movie steadicam ops vary again. When running they limit the load on the camera but they have the worst of it a nicely loaded 35mm camera can weight 50 pounds. Thats a killer on your body. 
Transformers 3 camera setup was 75 pounds.  

Actualy its easy. But if you have a 14k Zephyr. Nice balance, smooth control and expensive. All in one.

Easy?!!! You're smoking crack. Not only is carrying that gear on your body work but then composing shots while running around is tough. And if you think still photo equipment is expensive it's nothing compared to what a steadicam op spends. Nothing.

Pete's picture

 The Steadicam guys that worked the Women's World Cup final were pretty amazing. Running down the sidelines with the players. They also were getting great shots in the pre and post game. The camera work was stellar all around for that event.

this guy is definitely a solid steadcam op, but i'm more impressed by the 4 min fight scene linked above.. damn impressive-- and yes, it looks like it took a month of practice to get a shot like that down.  good example of why they have certification for this craft

bret's picture

is the guy behind him pulling focus or does he also have to worry about that? just curious. insane work...

No the guy following him is usually just making sure he does the scene correct and watches his back. In television all the scenes are written down. That's why you see him walking off set to get ready for the next shot. The focus is controlled but the control room(in most cases) but he has a over ride he can control in his right hand.

When it comes to tv its easier then movie because movies are what the director wants. Tv is what the people care to see. Not crazy focus. (Please note I mean for steadicam ops.)

Martin Beebee's picture

Awesome footwork -- I'll be re-watching this to take notes.

Martin Beebee's picture

Love to see a BTS video of the Ong Bak clip!

Erik Lödén's picture

I think this is the guy who won some kind of price for his steadycamshoots. I saw him when i filmed "gladiatorerna" live in an arena here in Sweden.
And he was ALL over the place. all the time!

now that's some crazy footwork. this dude is awesome, the camera was balanced perfectly and the best part is the fast panning shots flawless... but hats off to the footwork... i learnt a lot from this and i will practice some of these moves with my action cam red edition as well. thanks for posting this video... cheers ;)