Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Framing Media #2: Katie Bird on the Labor and Art of Steadicam Operators

Today's episode features Katie Bird, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, who researches technology and craft histories in Hollywood film production. We discuss her video essay, "Feeling and Thought as They Take Form: Early Steadicam, Labor, and Technology (1974-1985),” published in the Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies. Bird emphasizes the operator's role in this unique technology's early history in both major films like The Shining and Halloween, as well as demo reels, industrial works, and more. She emphasizes how the choices of the operators—both physically and affectively, often referring to their own work closer to dancing—ultimately shaped the images we saw and how we respond to them. Bird challenges viewers to see the craft as labor beyond just invisibility, appreciating the art of production at every step. 

Notes and Links to the Conversation
—Learn more about Katie Bird and her research, and follow her on Twitter.
—A written version of her video essay, that covers some different issues, appears in The Velvet Light Trap.
—Jean Rouch discusses some of the issues in Cin√© Ethnography
—A Gimble Demo, that very much emphasizes its dance elements.

Theme Music: "Hot Pink" by Chad Crouch

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