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Old August 19th, 2009, 07:01 PM   #1
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Shooting backwards while actors walk toward camera

Not sure if this is the correct place to post..

I am a newbie, looking for advice on how to film actors walking towards the camera while the camera moves backwards.. is this accomplished via a dolly or is there a dolly-less way that will accomplish this same thing and not look herky-jerky?

I need to shoot an actor walking and singing lyrics for a music video.
It will be shot on a street sidewalk and the actors steps will be in synch with the music tempo (moderate tempo)

any ideas?

Last edited by James Patrick; August 19th, 2009 at 07:02 PM. Reason: email notification
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Old August 19th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #2
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In film school we always used a wheelchair... you sit in the wheelchair, shooting, while someone turns around so you are back to back and pulls you backwards. Works great.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #3
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In order of preferance,

Dolly, Steadicam, Wheelchair, Shopping Cart.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 08:59 PM   #4
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Since we are talking about an uneven surface here (sidewalk), I'd put Steadicam at the head of the list. There have been untold numbers of music videos with this scenario shot on Steadicam. The better the operator, the more dolly-like it will appear.
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Old August 20th, 2009, 11:09 AM   #5
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The technique of walking backwards with a steadycam is called the Don Juan (not that anyone was asking). For the less experienced operator, it can also be done walking forward, but you're talking a greater risk that the framing won't be as good. Still, on a wide shot with a fixed distance between you and the subject and a 'dialed-in' steadycam rig, you'll have an easier time of it. If you're on a quiet street, you can sit in the back of a pickup truck/SUV and film your subject with ease (so long as you're not worried about ambient sounds and traffic.
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Old August 20th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #6
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As well, throwing a wide angle lens into the mix helps to minimize any jostling regardless of your method of "stabilization".
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Old August 20th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.

Is there such a thing as an entry level steadicam?
I have seen posts about the Glidecam 2000..

Is it possible to get a decent setup for under $2000?

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Old August 20th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oren Arieli View Post
The technique of walking backwards with a steadycam is called the Don Juan (not that anyone was asking). For the less experienced operator, it can also be done walking forward, but you're talking a greater risk that the framing won't be as good.
"Don Juan" actually refers to the orientation of the operator to the lens, generally operator walking forward with lens facing backwards. The counterpart is the "Missionary" position in which the lens is facing the same direction as the operator.

Most of us would tackle the above shot in Missionary, backing up. The vast majority of working Steadicam operators will avoid Don Juan at all costs (some never do it), even going so far as to climb or descend stairs backwards. I myself have never been able to comfortably tackle stairs this way so I have to resort to Don Juan, however reluctantly (ugh!).

I'm not really sure it's accurate that a less experienced operator would be more likely to do a walking shot in Don Juan, but agreed that the framing wouldn't be as good regardless of the experience level.

Anyway...James, there are indeed entry level Steadicams, provided your camera is light enough. At around $800, there is the Merlin; also worth looking at in this price range is the Blackbird (non-Steadicam brand). I am personally not a huge fan of the Glidecam handheld rigs but they are cheap and widely available used to boot. There are a wide number of other rigs out there that are variations/knockoffs of either the Merlin or Glidecam design, often out of India or China and available on eBay. As always, you get what you pay for.
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Old August 20th, 2009, 07:22 PM   #9
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just a bit OT, Charles, I still LOVE that shot. To me, one of the top 2 or 3 steadicam shots I have ever seen. AWESOME! Props.
(lovefest over ;-)
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Old August 20th, 2009, 08:07 PM   #10
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Thanks Don, but for me, that one's been trumped (and admirably so) in the years that followed. Here's a great one from "Flightplan". My jaw dropped the first time I saw this shot. Flawless.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 04:45 AM   #11
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blimey. Thats impressive. You almost dont notice that its a steadicam shot
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 08:51 AM   #12
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Yes, I tend to keep the Don Juan only for when more speed is required, the downside being the framing isn't as accurate.

Hard mounting is even better!! The grip does all the hard work.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 03:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Thanks Don, but for me, that one's been trumped (and admirably so) in the years that followed. Here's a great one from "Flightplan". My jaw dropped the first time I saw this shot. Flawless.
Charles, was the door opening direction changed for a 'reason'?
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Old November 4th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #14
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Charles: I had NO IDEA you operated on AH X, one of my all time favourite movies! Thanks for sharing!
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Old November 5th, 2009, 03:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Charles, was the door opening direction changed for a 'reason'?
Sorry Peter, can you be more specific?
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