Monday, June 3, 2013

The Curve: a Steadicam made just for GoPros

Presumably it will take less time to balance than the Smoothee, since it is a GoPro-specific product (it works with both Hero 2s and the newest Hero 3s.) Steadicam will directly notify anyone who registers in advance as soon as the product actually becomes available. (Privacy note: the company says it won't share those email addresses with third parties.)
     Below, the legendary Garrett Brown himself, inventor of the Steadicam, makes a surprise visit to pitch the new product. (Steadicam is now a division of Tiffen, famous for its photographic filters.)
     One easy-to-miss, but significant point in Brown's comments is that the Curve has the same wind shadow as the GoPro camera itself, which is smart engineering and will probably be a compelling selling point to anyone who grasps the significance of that fact.
     Hope the company choses an aggressive price point. The Smoothee now sells for under $130.

Below (dubbed in French!) is the first Steadicam shot in Hollywood history, from 1976's Bound For Glory (the Woody Guthrie biopic starring David Carradine), although it was not the first seen by audiences, as the second feature to employ a Steadicam, Marathon Man, was released first. Given the ubiquity of the device and such shots, it's hard to believe that before 1976 no filmgoer had ever seen a motion picture camera thread its way through a crowd.

From Wikipedia:
     The Steadicam was introduced to the industry in 1975 by inventor and cameraman Garrett Brown, who originally named the invention the "Brown Stabilizer". After completing the first working prototype, Brown shot a ten-minute demo reel of the revolutionary moves this new device could produce. This reel was seen by numerous directors, including Stanley Kubrick and John G. Avildsen.
     ...The Steadicam was first used in the Best Picture-nominated Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory (1976), debuting with a shot that compounded the Steadicam's innovation: cinematographer Haskell Wexler had Brown start the shot on a fully elevated platform crane which jibbed down, and when it reached the ground, Brown stepped off and walked the camera through the set. This technically audacious and previously impossible shot created considerable interest in how it had been accomplished, and impressed the Academy enough for Wexler to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography that year. It was then used in extensive running and chase scenes on the streets of New York City in Marathon Man (1976), which was actually released two months before Bound for Glory. It landed a notable third credit in Avildsen's Best Picture-winning Rocky (1976), where it was an integral part of the film's Philadelphia street jogging/training sequences and the run up the Art Museum's flight of stairs, as well as the fight scenes (where it can even be plainly seen in operation at the ringside during some wide shots of the final fight). Garrett Brown was the Steadicam operator on all of these. 

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