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The Shining is probably the best example of the use of steadicams, as the camera glides through the hotel’s corridors and its maze. Usually, to get a steady moving shot, you’d put your camera on a dolly-- essentially a set of tracks--but there’s obviously huge limitations to this technique: one is that you mustn’t show the ground because otherwise you reveal the tracks; another is the difficulty in going up or down stairs. With a steadicam, you can follow your subject wherever it may go.
You can get by without a steadycam thank’s to iMovie’s Stabilization feature.
Proper steadicams cost an absolute fortune, but the Smoothee for iPhone is relatively cheap at $199.99 and if you’re a handy DIY person, Johnny Chung Lee very kindly posted an article on how to build your very own steadicam for little more than $14 in parts: littlegreatideas.com/stabilizer/diy.
Using a steadicam requires quite a bit of practice, but once you’ve perfected your moves, you can create incredibly smooth motion as you walk, no matter what you follow. Sadly, not all of us are handy with a screwdriver and until the cheapest steadicam in the world becomes available for sale, you may have to do your best. But Apple hasn’t left you high and dry: iMovie has a tool for stabilizing your clip’s motion. It can’t work miracles and an overly shaky shot won’t be fixed (instead, you’ll see a red squiggly line over the problem segments in its Event), but it can be highly effective on most clips.