The Steadicam Operator is a Senior Camera Operator who shoots using Steadicam equipment – the system that allows the camera to move rapidly and follow shots without the need for tracks, while keeping the camera stable. The Operator wears the Steadicam rig when shooting.
Steadicam provides essential shots for sports like football and rugby. This form of coverage is also a key part of how talent shows like “Dancing with the Stars” are brought to the screen.
Steadicam Operators will be highly experienced camera operators with a particular skill in shooting hand-held.
For sports, he or she will provide the principal photography of the pre-match spectacle of the teams arriving, and any ceremonial pieces in the case of international matches. During the game, two Steadicam Operators each cover one half of the pitch from outside the technical areas to the corner. Coverage of goals, corner kicks, throw-ins and crowd reaction are all covered. The Operator must be able to frame on the move, giving the Director requested shots while also offering shots. There is a real need to be able to hunt for shots. After the match, the Operator provides coverage of the winning team.
In the case of Light Entertainment shows like “Dancing with the Stars”, the Steadicam Operator will follow a dance from every possible angle, capturing an entire performance in detail. This calls for excellent timing and being able to use camera movement that works with the tempo of the music.
In addition to first-class camera skills, practice is essential: this is a specialised role for which it takes a long time to master the skills to a high level.
In Factual and Documentary programmes, Steadicam is used to allow audiences the sense of exploring historical sites and buildings, either by providing point-of-view shots, or following a Presenter.
The role is usually freelance, and by its nature location- or studio-based. It requires a full driving licence, and requires the Operator to have his or her own transport.
To perform this role, you must:
Be an experienced and highly skilled camera operator, capable of collaborating closely with the Director to help deliver the creative vision for the programme.
Have a deep technical knowledge of operating broadcast cameras and all relevent technical ancillary equipment.
Have excellent skills working with colour.
Have high levels of physical strength and stamina due to the need to wear heavy equipment for long periods.
Be familiar with the key components of the major televised team sports.
Have the skills to operate in the midst of the action, without becoming a visible part of the action.
Be capable of working long days, sometimes in challenging locations, and when necessary, being on the road for several weeks at a time.
Have a full driver’s licence and own transport.
Have full knowledge of all health and safety regulations and safe practice relating to filming.
This role is only possible for experienced Camera Operators, most of whom will have come through the on-the-job training positions within the industry. Specialist Steadicam courses are available internationally for people who are already experienced Camera Operators.