Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam, has been honoured for inventing the camera stabiliser that revolutionised the art of shooting film and video by being inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Introduced in 1975, Steadicam camera stabilisation technology revolutionised the film industry by enabling cinematographers and videographers to capture lengthy motion shots without the shakiness of handheld cameras or cumbersome dolly workflows. Brown’s invention was immediately used to create iconic running and chase scenes in 1976 blockbusters “Bound for Glory”, “Marathon Man” and “Rocky”.
Steadicam has now been helping videographers to capture the world’s greatest moving images for over three decades. Joining the Tiffen family in 2000, its product development has since continued to shape the industry with support a wide selection of camera rigs ranging from those for movie and 3D shoots to the hand-held Steadicam Smoothee and Curve that bring the same technology to the iPhone and GoPro.
In an interview with National Public Radio, USA, Brown said: “We sort of have a stabiliser in our heads, if you think about it. You’re not conscious of yourself lurching side to side when you walk, or rising and falling. The brain just smoothes it all out for you. So why should it look worse when you pick up a camera and try to walk? That’s what sort of lured me on back then.”
After a weeklong stint in a motel room, Brown produced his first workable iteration of Steadicam, the first body-mounted camera stabiliser for handheld shots. He tested it out with his then girlfriend (now wife) by filming a shot of her running up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. A few months after showing “Rocky” director John Avildsen the shot, Brown found himself following Sylvester Stallone up the same steps with the Steadicam strapped securely to his body.
Since then, Brown has shot nearly 100 films using the camera stabilizer, including “The Shining” and “Return of the Jedi.” Today, anyone who watches movies or television has most likely watched a scene that was only made possible with Brown’s Steadicam innovation.