If the Shoe Fits!

Monday, June 18th, 2007

What do you consider Steadicam equipment? Does Steadicam equipment end with the Vest/Harness… or do you consider the shirt you wear an essential part of your equipment package? If so, does it matter what shirt you choose to wear? How about pants… are jeans better than cargos? Should you wear a belt? Does it matter what socks or underwear you are wearing? How about a hat? And what about shoes…

What are the best shoes for Steadicam Operation?

Wardrobe is a regular topic at Steadicam Workshops. I’ve been on a never ending quest to find the best socks, underwear, pants, belts, hats, shirts, and yes… shoes for Steadicam operation. This BLOG will lead off a series of BLOGs intended to discuss the apparel that’s best suited for Steadicam operating… and how seriously operators take their wardrobe when going to work.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right pair of shoes for Steadicam. When I pick shoes, the first consideration is safety. I want all the support I can get… especially on those days spent on stairs. Like a surgeon… our hands are critical to our profession, but perhaps even more important are our feet and ankles. One missed step could result in a twisted ankle. So I want as much support as I can get to prevent a sprain or strain from occurring. So when it comes to safety, I opt for some kind of high-top. And the extra support has certainly made a difference on several occasions.

Another important factor is breath ability of the shoe. I often see students at workshops wearing leather boots, and although that offers some support… I personally wouldn’t choose leather boots as my Steadicam footwear. Let’s face it… our job is strenuous. My feet sweat. So I want something that breathes… so that by the end of the day I’m not floating in my shoes. Again, our feet are important. So irritation, rash, etc. needs to be avoided. I typically opt for a sneaker or hiking shoe. I like something that’s either intended to absorb moisture, or allow your feet to breathe enough for that moisture to evaporate.

Comfort would be next on my list. You’re not only going to be on your feet all day, but you’re going to be carrying an extra 80 – 100lbs for most of the day. So comfort is key! This becomes a matter of personal preference. Some people need arch support, others don’t. Here I would encourage you to experiment. See what feels better after 12hrs or so. Don’t count on shoes that are usually comfortable on a weekend hike, to be comfortable after an intense day of Steadicam. So I encourage experimentation. Don’t just accept what you’ve already got in the closet. Trust me; a comfortable shoe will be worth every penny. After lots of experimentation, I found that hiking sneakers were the best for me… and I even found a brand I like the best. Salomon makes a large selection of hiking shoes from low cut to high top. I go for the high top. They lace up quick, are comfortable around the ankle, offer the support and breath ability I need, and after a long day’s work… my feet feel pretty good.

Finally, how are the shoes to operate in? This is a critical factor. However, I think the above three factors take precedence. It’s important that the shoe offers enough sensation to feel your surroundings… especially when you’re locked off and are trying make sure you know where that door frame or step is before you start moving again. Also, do you have enough control with the shoes to creep ever so delicately, and RUN ever so safely. Running with the Steadicam is dangerous enough… so its important that you have a shoe that’s light enough to run in, doesn’t trip you up, and offers the support you need to stop or when the ground is uneven.

The shoe you wear should be considered with the same amount of care as the sled you fly… but it comes down to personal preference. These are some of the factors I take into consideration when choosing my footwear. What’s your preference?

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