The Hidden Connection between Exoskeletons and TV and Film Production

The Hidden Connection between Exoskeletons and TV and Film Production.jpg

Hollywood, TV, and the broader video production world hold the distinction of being one of the earliest industries to mass adopt and have commercially viable and widely used exoskeleton-like wearables. The “exoskeleton” that came to prominence and has then been iterated off of was the 1975 invention by Garrett Brown and produced by Cinema Productions Corporation, the Steadicam. The original Steadicam comprises a substantial bracing vest that wraps about the entire wearer’s upper torso. From the vest, a heavy-duty arm extends out to grip a mount. The camera sits atop the mount while below are heavy counterweights. Previously, options for introducing camera movement to production were limited and constrained. Camera movement could either be smooth, but this would require the use of placing the camera on rails, a crane, or a cart, or the camera would be handheld, but the resulting footage would have substantial movement and be viewed as unacceptable for use in Hollywood or Television productions that were not news or documentaries. The Steadicam exoskeleton allowed for the flexibility and freedom of a camera operated by a single individual off of rails or a crane while also producing smooth footage.

Steadicam with a camera
Steadicam with a camera

The Steadicam’s advantages were quickly seen and adopted. The first film to ever utilize a Steadicam was Best Picture nominee Bound for Glory, which lost the Oscar to the third picture to utilize a Steadicam, Silvester Stalone’s Rocky. Famed and celebrated director Stanley Kubrick was an early adopter of the Steadicam. They were famously used, filming at one frame per second, to create the look of an ultra-high speed vehicle zooming through a forest for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Since then, Steadicams have continually been utilized in high-scale video production, and as technology has advanced, they have incorporated those into Steadicam rigs. These include motorized gimbals and stabilization. One of the most exciting aspects about the Steadicam and other similar devices that exist within the video production world is that they are not generally considered or thought about as exoskeletons despite all of the prerequisite traits to be an exoskeleton. Cinematographers and camera operators of Steadicam and Steadicam-like devices are not attending exoskeleton conferences and industry meetings. The technological developments of exoskeletons and video Steadicam-like devices are occurring primarily in parallel and without overlap. As such, there is an excellent opportunity for more potential collaboration between the exoskeleton world and the film industry to work toward the most effective wearable robotics.

Daniel Walker Exoskeleton Report 2023 squareI help people to educate and inform others. Through writing and visual storytelling, I work to ensure that messages and information are effectively conveyed by identifying key points, expounding upon critical details, and providing an easy-to-understand and approachable end deliverable. In this process, I have created cable and broadcast ads, social media content, educational videos, animated demonstrations, project briefs, SOPs, and safety instructions, among others. My Website:

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Upcoming Events

Read the latest issue of the Exoskeleton Report Magazine:

Exoskeleton Report Digital Magazine Feb 2024 Featured Image square