Jump to content

If you fall

Recommended Posts

The idea of steadicam is to NOT fall. And like any fall in life, you don't exactly have a choice as to how you are going to fall. If you were able to control your fall, you'd do something to keep yourself from falling.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have not fallen yet(knock on wood) though I did see my AC fly off a flight of stairs before I got to them. He landed gracefully and the actors didn't miss a line. Only he and I laughed about it. There was one story that I thought was pretty cool though that George Paddock told it to me a year or so ago. He said that he was visiting Chris Haarhoff on the set of Saving Private Ryan on the day that they shot the scene where Tom Hank and his guys ran into the French town in the rain while we hear a fire fight going on. He said that Chris stepped on a roof shingle with his lead foot and when it kicked up he caught his back foot on it. Down he went into the mud. A complete face plant. He was okay but the camera and rig needed some attention. The ACs swapped out the camera and wiped down the rig. To everyones suprise the rig was working fine. Chris and George, literally, took a hose to the arm and it was good to go. Says a lot for the Pro rig if you ask me.


Sounds like a sales pitch but its not. I had bought mine a few years before so I'm sure it wasn't.


All the Best,


Chad Persons

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites



go to a workshop dude! they'll definitely address falls; if not, you can ask. they'll even tell you about ways to deal with a fall.


look, if you fall, chances are either you will get hurt or the rig will get damaged. the only way for that not to happen is if someone else breaks your fall, in which case they would get hurt.


if you're going to fall, the best way not to damage the rig is to fall on your back; but remember, those 50+ pounds of love are going to crash hard on you, unless you can really muscle it down gently. if you fall forward, the rig WILL get damaged! it's happened to me, it sucked, i was lucky. the steadicam was basically ok; the lens was ok, but the port was knocked out of collumnation; the mag popped open and some film was flashed; the worst damage was to the viewfinder. it got bent up and a small mirror inside got chipped. end result: a few thousand dollars of damage. incredibly lucky by worst case scenario comparisons.


the other two things that made that fall "lucky:"


1. no one got hurt.


2. i stayed calm and focused, got up, addressed the damage with the assistants and addressed how to make the shot work with the d.p. and the director. we kept shooting. very little time was lost. at the end of the day, the director and d.p. were happy.


it's good that you're asking about falls because it's a real risk in our field. however, most falls could probably be avoided. most times, they can be avoided by not letting production make you do something you're not ready or not comfortable doing. learn how to assess those situations, it will make you a more respect-worthy operator.


the thing to do is to first sit down and think about and understand how the rig works, learn about body posture and how the rig can get too far away from you. by understanding how a fall can happen, you can train yourself to operate in a way that will better avoid those situations. it's often about footwork, body posture, and calm. most importantly, stay calm and focused. you'll operate better and you'll correct yourself quicker if you do stumble.


in my case, i was doing a frontal run, chasing an actor. i remember learning at the workshops that when you run like that, your body tends to lean forward a little, which will force the rig farther away from you; most op's will adjust the arm to keep the rig closer than usual to compensate for this fact, while others manage to run with straight-bent posture. anyway, i had practiced running several times before going out on a gig, but had never practiced chasing anyone: the two are remarkably different! end result: i ran faster than i should have, worse, i was leaning into the run, the rig got so far ahead of me that it basically pulled me off my feet. the lucky thing was that i wasn't going faster. there wasn't enough time to stop the fall from happening, but i still managed to fall slowly.


as happened to a buddy of mine, he didn't fall, but came damn close. he was in a field, i can't remember if he was running or walking, but he discovered a root sticking out of the ground at the worst posssible moment: while shooting in the rig. another thing you'll learn at the workshop is how to handle different ground conditions. wet pavement is different than dry pavement and should be approached carefully. mud, sand, rocky/uneven ground, roots in forests/fields. before the shot, you should be out there inspecting the ground conditions. what can you move to make it safer for you and the actor? what spots must be avoided (another real concern when shooting off vehicles)? where are the areas where you know the shot can be done, but you'd feel safer with a spotter? think ahead, envision the risk factors before you suit up. again, it will only make you a more respectable operator.


but lastly, and again a good reason to go to a workshop, if your first question as a new operator is about falling, my question for you: should you be operating? being a good operator often means doing some incredible shots: stepping onto/off of cranes/dollies/vehicles, shooting off vehicles, running through crazy places, running up/down stairs. all of these are risky moves, but are skills expected of even an average operator. are you comfortable with taking on that kind of risk? if not, don't. if you fear the gear, the gear will get you.




jake pollock

taipei, taiwan

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Marcelo

If you are doing a shot where there may be a chance of falling.

good thing to have in your kit is a good pair of Knee and elbow protectors like skateboarders have even wrist protectors if you can bear them.


Joe McNally

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites



Of course the fall of anybody with the machine on is a serious thing, but the fall of it on the stand is a pain in the ass too...


I assisted a guy once - I won't tell his name - who was not a good steadicamer at all, and he made the machine fall because he didn't mind the stand's sticks orientation and didn't put it in the axis of one of them. I hadn't noticed the way he put it on the stand as this guy never wanted any help to take the machine off the arm and on the stand-


We were in ext and it was a little windy. I was doing my stuff nearby, like 6 feet away from the machine and sundenly saw the stand and machine fall. I ran on it and only could make the fall more "cool" but not keep the camera (aaton s16) from touching the ground. Hopefully it was not a hard ground, but (only) the filter got broken.


Since that moment, I didn't let the machine more than 2 feet away from me. I told the guy that whenever he wanted to put the machine on the stand I was there to help, but he still would do it beetween takes, very suddenly with no advice, and believe it or not, it was gonna happen again, but this time I was close to the machine and stopped it's fall in the very first second and then, put the weight in the axis of a stick.


This guy is a prat, he didn't change anything, and I can tell you the shots were so bad we had to retake with somebody else.


But... what I learned, is to really mind that the machine keeps in good position on the stand and to put sand bags on it.


As an assistant you don't necessarly choose or know the steadicamer, so I would warn any assistant to mind this and be carefull with the wind !

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've fallen a number of times during my career and I must say I never had a choice on which way to fall other then to "Go With It". Your reflex action will take over and it will happen very fast.

During all of my falls I was moving very fast. Once I stepped on the boom mans foot who was behind me, it had a domino effect and about 3 of us went down. no one was hurt and the equip. was fine. Yes, I should of had more room but we all needed more room.

Another was when I was running backward through a narrow hall around a corner and through a sliding wooden door while leading the running actor. I tripped while turning through the doorway. Everyone jumps up and gets very concerned trying to help you. I'm sure it looks terrible, like a train wreck, from their position. Again, no one hurt, equip. fine. Ego Damage

Once I was running on a gravel road following a actor, my right foot slipped off to the side and it pitched me forward. Not good! I was now off balance falling forward at a dead run. I tried to counter by pulling the rig in towards me but it had other things in mind like pulling me down onto the road. It won! Yes, I should have run slower more in control, But I didn't. The shot was designed to be fast and frantic. No one was hurt but the equipment was not so fine. Self confidence was slighly battered

As you get more experience you will push yourself to do more and more difficult shots. You will be asked to do diffcult shots, you will accept the risks and take the falls and you will probably enjoy every minute. But you can limit your chances of falling by: Making sure your pathway is clear of anything that might trip you up, Try to get a 1/2 speed rehearsal, Ware appropriate foot gear, use a spotter if you can (some times when your moving very fast a spotter may become ineffective or worse a hinderance.) and last of all speak-up if you see a problem with the shot that makes it precarious.


Good Luck

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

search this site and the old archives for some war stories on falling. some have fallen with no scratch while others have had some cuts/scrapes, equip damage, etc...etc..

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now