In 1976, cameraman innovator Garret Brown had a problem to solve: how to make a hand-held shot appear smooth and fluid rather than shaky. Before the Steadicam, the only way to move a camera was either by mounting it on a dolly, or by holding it over your shoulder. What Garrett wanted was a technology that allowed for the smoothness of a dolly, with the freedom of the hand-held technique.
Enter the Steadicam. Through a lot of trial and error, Brown invented a system that used weight distribution and a rotating gimbal to smooth out hand-held shots. To operate a Steadicam, the operator essentially wears the camera on the front of what looks like a bullet-proof vest. The camera is mounted, via the gimbal, onto a flexible "iso-elastic" arm that's attached to the vest. A system of counterweights distributes the weight of the camera and allows for -- wait for it -- a steady shot. In the end, a cameraman was able to follow Rocky Balboa up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and track Jack Nicholson through a snowy maze in "The Shining." Thanks to Brown, filmmaking would never be the same.