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Impossible Shots: The Invention of the Steadicam

Gilles Arbour

In the 1970’s, cinematographer Garrett Brown was tired of the bulky dolly equipment needed to get a smooth, moving shot. Out of this frustration, came an invention that would revolutionize the cinema industry – the Steadicam.

Impossible Shots - Steadicam

When Garrett Brown created the first Steadicam in the early 70’s he created a short demo reel to showcase the shooting capabilities of his device. This film, titled 30 Impossible Shots, was a 2 minute reel that demonstrated a shooting style previously unseen – a single camera operator getting exceptionally smooth shots with a trackless device. After viewing 30 Impossible Shots, some of the leading Hollywood directors wanted this technology (and Brown) for their own film projects…and the Steadicam was born. Brown was soon booked for Rocky, The Shining and many others.

Today the Steadicam is ubiquitous in both big budget Hollywood films and on indie film projects. It has paved the way for more modern renditions of the handheld stabilizer (including the recent success of the Movi).

A recent Hollywood Reporter post gives fascinating insight into the creation (and subsequent success) of the Steadicam, including Brown’s now famous 30 Impossible Shots. Get a look at the demo film that sparked the explosion of the Steadicam:

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for sharing!

For more info on Steadicam see our previous posts: