What not to do when you are testing a rig with a $70,000-plus camera on it

In the film-making world, camera operators are often the unsung heroes of a production. Utilizing their skills in order to achieve the look and movement that a director envisions is a difficult job, but they have tools to make things easier on them. One of those tools is what’s called a steadycam, and its purpose is exactly as its name implies — to keep the camera completely steady, allowing for smooth motion, even if the operator is running full speed after the subject of the shot. Without these amazing devices, many of the long moving shots that we see in movies this days would be impossible to pull off.

One camera operator attending Cine Gear, an industry trade show, over the weekend found out the hard way that showing off is never a good idea. In the video you can see the operator performing what appears to be a test of a steadycam stabilizer arm. You hear him ask about the movement of the product. Someone else, possibly the salesman, replies, and the operator then says, “This is crazy.” And then we see the man start to move the rig around a bit more wildly, and then he starts to jump — notice that the camera stays fairly still — and that is when you start to get that feeling in your stomach that something bad is about to happen.

The man lets go of the stabilizer arm, appearing to dance as he waves his hips back and forth, stepping farther away from the camera (which is still relatively stable considering) and then our worst fears are realized. A piece of the stabilizer arm appears to snap under the weight and strain being placed on it by being extended so far from the man, sending the camera — which appears to be an ARRI Alexa XT, which starts at a cool $70,000 — plummeting to the ground. The video cuts out before we see if the camera survives the crash, but in the absence of a miracle, it’s a safe bet to conclude that some damage was done, at the very least the stabilizer arm was ruined. If the camera or lens was damaged then the costs go higher very quickly.

Needless to say, we think this guy learned his lesson about showing off with expensive equipment.


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