Shaki Cam History

In about 1978 David Samualson showed me a smooth moving shot through a bus and down onto the street that couldn't have been a dolly move. I had no idea of how they did it. When Steadicam came to Clairmont-Engle, I tried it. It was a wonderful tool, but I found it heavy on my non-athletic body. The principles were obvious and Caleb Deschenal, Bill Bennett, and I tried versions with an Arri 16. To take the weight we tried arms attached to a Kelty Back Pack and from that the Body Cam evolved with Bob Nettmen, John Carrol and Continental Camera. There were a few unpleasant patent suits. Since then I have designed many versions of "Shaki Cams."

Note: Knowing that something has been done or is even possible is key to finding a solution. I also saw a 20 to 1 zoom at Samualsons. I found that a simple 2 x extender on a 16 mm 20 to 1 Angenieux lens would cover 35 mm film format. Panavision did the same but exaggerated its speed. It was really about f 9.0 at best. Ross Woods showed me a periscope lens in Australia and I made one too. There is some hocus-pocus in this business along with some very fine engineering.

Not knowing of Garrett Brown's work we also tried a fiber optic viewfinder, but found the image too dark and connecting hose too cumbersome. Bill Bennett and I built various video doors for Arris and helmet video finders. (Heavy in those days.) (See Pro Rigging Tech / Video Helmet Design Considerations)

Since retiring I have tried to make "Shaki Cams" that not-yet-successful camera people could afford and build for themselves. I have to laugh at some of the copiers of Steadicam that produce overpriced and poorly engineered devices. The two camera operator device being the prize.

I also have some fairly easy-to-build cranes for camcorders and smaller cameras to be released on this site later.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.