June 6, 2016
CineGear 2016

CineGear Demo Goes Awry When Guy Smashes $70k Camera

Here's what NOT to do with a Steadicam.

While demonstrating a stabilizing rig with an Arri Alexa XT at CineGear this weekend, a man appears to have accidentally committed cameracide. 

The fatal mistake? The operator let the arm extend too far from his body while leaning back (and away from it) simultaneously. 

Watch the video below, and be sure to note what not to do (when in doubt, read a manual!):

If you found that too depressing, here's a beautiful montage of some of the smoothest and most innovative Steadicam operations in movies to keep your spirits aloft.     

Your Comment

37 Comments

so it basically failed the 'dance test'.

June 6, 2016 at 12:13PM, Edited June 6, 12:13PM

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Dan Keeble
Video Editor + Cameraman
194

I believe it was specifically the salsa dance, possibly ramba. It would be fine with the middle school arms on the shoulder dance test. Ha.

June 6, 2016 at 12:20PM

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This is why we can't have nice things. :P

June 6, 2016 at 12:18PM

14
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I believe they call that the... Danger Zone

June 6, 2016 at 3:27PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
1147

Takes one jerk off to ruin all the fun! What was with the shimmy shake at the end? Old school dance moves!!

June 6, 2016 at 12:44PM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
1130

Ouch!

June 6, 2016 at 12:49PM

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Mida Chu
independent filmmaker
121

Can you please add this to the article in some way?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em_29-75vRA

June 6, 2016 at 1:11PM

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Joe O
Videographer/Editor
323

LOL

June 6, 2016 at 1:20PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9039

yes!!

June 6, 2016 at 6:02PM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
1130

I'm confused. It looks like it breaks where the arm connects to the steadicam. I guess the stress on that point should be somewhat the same, no matter what you do with the arm? Maybe a bit more than usual because of unusual angles, but my guess would be it shouldn't have broken because of that move? Am I completely wrong here, or was it just a malfunction.

(im guessing im wrong, as I know very little about steadicams :P)

June 6, 2016 at 1:27PM

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Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
1042

The arm broke of because he let he gear get away from him. The weight increases exponentially when you move the rig away. When you operate from a vehicle and the arm is connected to a mount you don't feel the strain of the arm and can accidentally allow it to "walk away" thus causing the arm to fail and break. To prevent this op's will tie the sled down and limit its travel.

This actually happened while filming The dark knight when the arm broke off due to the weigh of the imax camera while filming the opening bank robbery scene. However that was not op's fault the weight of the camera was just too much.

In this instance, purely operator error.

June 6, 2016 at 1:47PM, Edited June 6, 1:56PM

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Emre Tufekci
Director
270

I know Marcus Pohlus for a long time (Steadicam for Polanskis "The Pianist" and actually all Polanski and Tom Tykwer movies, recently Spielberg`s "Bridge of Spies" and so on) and I tried a new rig he was demoing at his place. At one point we switched Steadicam Arms and he wanted to show me the amount of flex in the middle bone of his arm, the so-called "elbow" (the connector of both segments). When he extended the sled to the maximum position I almost feared it would split my back, the stress is enormous. And it`s a misunderstanding that the stress on the socket block (Arm to vest connection) stays the same all the time. Rapid up-down movements transmit powerful shocks through the system. This tends to sometimes break the elbow, even of absolute premium arms like from GPI PRO - that means at a mechanical place with less stress than at the socket block...

I don`t understand what this idiot in the video wanted to prove - I`ve never seen any operator do stuff like that while testing. Watch ace-operator Valentin Monge ("A Very Long Engagement") testing a new rig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDM8uCBLPjQ

June 6, 2016 at 2:57PM, Edited June 6, 3:11PM

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Gerard M.
1296

If you freeze frame the video you can see the socket block failed and the rig came out of the arm because when the arm angle matched the mounting position, it slid out.

June 6, 2016 at 9:01PM

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Emre Tufekci
Director
270

Dancing,.. because you might want the op to be able to run with an actor?
https://vimeo.com/154275942
And yes, I know Antony was more 'shuffling fast' then running..

June 7, 2016 at 6:05AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
265

The connection on the vest failed.
The extended arm causes a torque stress on the bolts that is more than 3 times higher than average. So 1 bolt snapped or got loose, making the arm lose it's fixed connection, freeing it to turn sideways, making the springs/rubberbands useless, because they don't support any weight when sideways.
The man leaning backwards, probably added to the tension on the upper bolt in the vest, because with that movement you are actually pulling the arm up when it is extended. As you probably remember from physics class: the camera on a long lever pulls quite some force. Trying to lift it will create a counter force on the point of rotation at the arm-vest-connection.

It was only after the bolt snapped (or 'escaped') that the camera fell from the arm.

In essence you are right: on the point where camera and arm are connected the force and tension will have far less variations in magnitude than at the arm-vest-connection.

Anyway, this accident is a clear invitation to the manufacturer to study what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. Even if it is 'just' the fault of that man, there might be a way to make the design a bit more dummyproof.

June 7, 2016 at 9:24AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9039

For anyone wondering, the manufacturer is NB Stabilizer.

June 6, 2016 at 2:24PM

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Stay away from cheap crap.

June 6, 2016 at 3:44PM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator/Owner
1714

Exactly; not sure what the failed part was made out of, but apparently that design incorporates RUBBER BANDS @_@

June 7, 2016 at 2:15PM

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Andy Zou
Producer
Filmmaker / Creative Director

That's gotta hurt.

June 6, 2016 at 4:46PM

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Mike N Kamera
Videographer/ VO Artist.
74

I feel like I'm dying every time, but I can't stop watching this.

June 6, 2016 at 5:18PM

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Sean Pettis
Filmmaker
442

Bad product period. Go back to the drawing board and make sure it passes length endurance.

June 6, 2016 at 6:25PM, Edited June 6, 6:25PM

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Agreed! No excuse.. that should not have broken

June 13, 2016 at 7:04PM

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This happens when a $70K camera is used with a crapy-desing stabilizer, clearly the crapy-arm (which use rubber bands instead of springs) of the sled failed, I have positioned a R1 in a similar situation (of course without the stupid dancing) on a Steadicam Flyer (model I) and never had any problem……this crapy-stabilizer is called NB Stabilizer, please stay away from it, there is a reason why Tiffen Steadicam is the original and the only option, I did the same mistake in the beginning, try to save some money buying a crapy-stabilizer initially, at the end was a lost of money, after moving to Tiffen, I realized why it is worth any penny.

June 6, 2016 at 9:23PM

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Tiffen Steadicam is the original and the only option" - Are you a sales representative of Tiffen or what? This is a quite unprofessional and completely wrong statement when most of the top operators on the world use not only Tiffen but GPI PRO or Sachtler/Arri Artemis, combined with components from Betz tools, XCS, MKV, Walter Klassen and many many others. You're spreading false information here.

And btw, at Hugo Cabret the operator, Larry McConkey, who is a 100% Tiffen user had to switch to a GPI Pro Arm because the G70 from Tiffen couldn't handle the weight. That much about it being the "original".

June 7, 2016 at 1:21AM, Edited June 7, 1:27AM

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Gerard M.
1296

Don't be a troll, I was just using an example for people who is not Steadicam operator, of course any brand at Tiffen level is a good choice, my comment was for people who incorrectly believe that Chinese or similar brands like this NB stabilizer could replace the real ones….

June 7, 2016 at 6:08PM, Edited June 7, 6:09PM

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Good golly it's not an XT, it's an Alexa Classic. You can tell by the SxS bays on the side.

June 7, 2016 at 1:48AM

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Tim Brennan
Big Boss
164

Close. It's actually an Alexa Plus, which is discontinued and sells for about $30k used.

June 10, 2016 at 12:45AM

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Joe Gunawan
DP/Camera Op/1st&2ndAC/Commercial Photographer
464

Subheading needs correction : That does not look like a SteadiCam system arm, and I doubt their brand will like being identified with lower quality products.

June 7, 2016 at 5:05AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
265

Very Very true --- in fact Tiffen would have a VALID LEGAL CLAIM
for product disparagement, trademark dilution and MAYBE even
defamation if the article in question is NOT a SteadiCam(TM)

This website can ALSO BE HELD FULLY LIABLE so I suggest
it be rewritten. Please check the headline and correct with the
term Camera Stabilizer Failed!

---

Now on technical note the Alexa within this video is HEAVY
with any decent cinema lens on it, so that arm is WAAAAY
underpowered for that type of weight.

In terms of QUALITY, the Arri/Sachtler arms, and
of course, the higher end Tiffen SteadiCam's truly
ARE designed for weights up to and beyond
70+ pounds (30 kilos+).

Most models of Glidecams, GPI, etc are really only
designed for 25 lbs and less and NOT the bigger cameras
such as Alexa XT/65, Sony F55/F65, Red Weapon, Panavision, etc.

June 7, 2016 at 2:46PM

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Henry A. Eckstein
Director, Research and Development
265

Epic Facepalm.

First of all, it's Steadicam, not SteadiCam.

A) Steadicam is a trademark, yes, but nofilmschool isn't selling camera stabilizers nor do they do that under the label "Steadicam" - btw, in every major movie on this planet the cameraman is called a Steadicam operator even though he possibly used a rig from GPI PRO which most top OPs do like Chris Haarhoff, Dave Emmerichs, Greg Lundsgaard etc.
It's turned into a generic name of the device ages ago...

B) Even GPI's smaller Arm, the Atlas has a capacity of 13-45 lbs. The Titan tops at 72 lbs. I know it, I own both. So you're spreading false information. Maybe do better "research and development" next time...

June 7, 2016 at 4:22PM, Edited June 7, 4:26PM

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Gerard M.
1296

Ouch!

June 7, 2016 at 6:20PM

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What a jerk... lol

June 7, 2016 at 9:46PM, Edited June 7, 9:46PM

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Don't know this guy, and he may very well be an asshole.. But notwithstanding, you guys (NFS) are better than this. Everybody screws up and drops something at some point in this industry. More often than not, it's a necessary part of every crew member's journey. I'm not certain if this was user error or the rig, but it doesn't really matter. Contributing to internet shaming is never cool, and this guy's career could very much suffer from all of this press. What if it was you? Someone just happened to be there at the time to get it on camera, which is unfortunate.

You're not directly shaming him, but you're feeding the fire and serving as a catalyst for your audience to do so. As a respected filmmaking educational platform, it would be nice if you showed more integrity.

I'm saying this as a long time user of the site. It's a great resource and I definitely appreciate many of the informative and educational articles. But this particular kind of modern media reporting -- the kind that gets a lot of attention/clicks at the expense of someone else, just gets under my skin.

June 8, 2016 at 12:26PM, Edited June 8, 12:27PM

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Ben Joyner
Director of Photography
147

Shoot him down...!!

June 9, 2016 at 4:12AM, Edited June 9, 4:12AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
1094

Or how about that's EXACTLY what to do when you're testing a piece of gear. I'd rather find out the demo is junk before I buy it.

June 9, 2016 at 7:37AM, Edited June 9, 7:37AM

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Matthew Emmanuel
Camera Operator
463

Well the one thing good is that it's NOT the $70,000 Alexa XT, but rather it's the discontinued Alexa Plus, which goes for around $30,000 nowadays. The lens, though is a $14,000 ARRI Ultra prime.

June 10, 2016 at 12:46AM

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Joe Gunawan
DP/Camera Op/1st&2ndAC/Commercial Photographer
464

I'm sorry, but I would not be putting my camera on this vest and arm. His lame little dance is less stress than a lot of operator motion, and your camera can and will drift out from time to time. That should not have broken PERIOD. Faulty gear. (and lame ass dude)

June 13, 2016 at 7:03PM

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