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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schepers

The most famous Steadicam shots in film history

Cinematography is an art form that has the power to transport viewers to different worlds and evoke a range of emotions. One technique that has become synonymous with creating compelling and dynamic shots is the use of a steadicam. In this article we will explore some of the most famous steadicam shots in film history and how they influenced the art of cinematography.

What is a Steadicam?

Before we get into the most famous steadicam shots, let's first define what a steadicam is. A steadicam is a camera stabilization system that ensures smooth movements during filming. It was invented in the 1970s by Garrett Brown and has since become a staple in the world of cinematography.

How does a Steadicam work?

A steadicam consists of a harness worn by the camera operator and connected to a mechanical arm that holds the camera. This arm is designed to target any unwanted camera movements. or absorb vibrations, resulting in a stable and smooth shot. The camera operator can then move freely and fluidly, creating dynamic shots that are impossible to create with a traditional handheld camera.

The most famous Steadicam shots

The Shining (1980)

One of the most iconic and influential steadicam shots in film history can be found in Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece, The Shining. In the film's opening scene, the camera follows young Danny Torrance as he rides his tricycle through the empty hallways of the Overlook Hotel. The smooth and steady movement of the camera creates a sense of unease and sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese's crime epic, is known for its use of long, uninterrupted shots. One of the most famous of these shots is the "Copa Shot", where the camera follows Henry Hill and his date through the back entrance of the Copacabana nightclub. The steadicam allows the audience to experience the glamor and excitement of the nightclub along with the characters, making it one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

Rocky (1976)

The iconic training montage in Rocky is another example of a famous steadicam shot. As Rocky runs through the streets of Philadelphia, the camera follows him from behind, creating a sense of urgency and determination. This shot has become synonymous with the film and has been parodied and referenced in numerous other films and TV shows.

Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights is known for its long, uninterrupted shots, and the opening scene is a good example of this. The camera follows the characters through a busy nightclub, moving among the crowd and capturing the chaos and energy of the scene. This shot sets the tone for the rest of the film and showcases the versatility and fluidity of the steadicam.

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter's horror classic, Halloween, is known for its use of tension and suspense, and the famous steadicam shot in the film's opening scene is a perfect example of this. The camera follows the killer, Michael Myers, as he stalks and kills his sister. The smooth and steady movement of the camera creates a sense of unease and fear, making this one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

The Player (1992)

Robert Altman's satirical film, The Player, begins with an impressive 8-minute steadicam shot that follows the characters through the busy backyard of a film studio. This shot not only showcases the technical skills of the steadicam operator, but also sets the stage for the film's commentary on the cutthroat world of Hollywood.

The influence of Steadicam Shots on cinematography

The use of a steadicam has become an important part of modern cinematography, and the famous shots mentioned above have had a significant impact on the art form. The smooth and fluid movements of the camera provide more dynamic and immersive shots, creating a more engaging viewing experience for the audience.

James Cameron

Another filmmaker who has been strongly influenced by the use of steadicam footage is director James Cameron. In films such as Titanic and Avatar, Cameron uses the steadicam to create immersive and immersive images that draw the audience into the world of the film. These shots have become a trademark of Cameron's style and have helped cement his status as one of the most influential directors in film history.


The use of a steadicam has become an essential tool in the world of cinematography, allowing filmmakers to create dynamic and compelling shots that were once impossible to achieve. The famous steadicam shots mentioned in this article not only became iconic in their own right, but also influenced the art of cinematography and continue to inspire filmmakers to this day.


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