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You’re damn straight any video daring to call itself “The Art of Steadicam” should open with Martin Scorsese’s oft-copied, two-minute Goodfellas shot that weaves through the guts of the Copacabana Nightclub as it follows lead gangster Ray Liotta as he tries to impress the beautiful Lorraine Bracco. All the rest is mere icing on the cake.
This clip, shared by FilmSchoolRejects, uses scenes from David Fincher’s Fight Club, Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Joe Wright’s Atonement to show how the smooth glide of a Steadicam makes scenes look “infinitely cooler.” Hard to argue. See for yourself:
Larry Wright and Refocused Media produced this clip, which skillfully demonstrates that the floating rig of the Steadicam shouldn’t just be limited to film production. These scenes from the hit television show E.R. were signature shots of the medical drama, having the camera gracefully spin around a chaotic operating room whenever a new emergency was brought to the doctors’ attentions. But the other directors spotlighted in the reel include Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights), Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break) and Stanley Kubrick (The Shining). Good company to keep.
As the site points out, the Steadicam rig – which sits on an operator's shoulders in a harness that eliminates the jarring shake and jiggle of a cinematographer’s natural movements – was introduced to the industry in 1975. It’s the polar opposite of the current guerilla tactics of reality-based storytelling, the “Shakicam” approach that (in my honest opinion) has damaged the horror genre and often makes certain interesting films unwatchable. It’s a visual preference, but I’d take a Steadicam shot that finds inventive ways to establish a scene over a hand-held, shaky shot that plunges you into the action but often produces an incomprehensible image. Perhaps after watching this Vimeo clip, you will agree?