A few weeks ago, one of our arts teachers Winter Mead came by the lab to chat about a potential project for his Film 1 class. He had an idea to ask the girls to design and build prototypes for their own Steadi-cam rigs! He also wanted to emphasize the use of the design thinking process, in that they should build quick prototypes, test, and iterate. Kind of a "fail early, fail often" model, although I generally prefer to think of it more as a "test early, iterate often" model because when you learn something from each attempt, it's not an exact failure, right?
On the day of, the girls were divided into three teams. We originally had the idea that we would not allow them to research online for this project, but soon realized that's both impractical (since they are surrounded by computing devices all day long) and not exactly true to how one would solve real problems these days. Instead, we only asked each team to generate ideas for their "Casti-cams" without using their computers on the first day. Then they could all go home, do some research online, and come to the second day of class with a plan in mind.
After gathering supplies such as PVC pipes, connectors, cheap Harajuku backpacks, 1/4 20 screws, and large binder clips, the girls got to work! Although each team used some sort of counterweight system, you can see from the photos that they came up with very different designs. Our teaching intern Zubair was on hand to assist and ended up teaching everyone how to use the PVC cutter, which became quite a popular tool in the class.
On the final day of the four-day project, Winter came up with a short challenge - each team had to use their Casti-cam rigs to film and track subjects through a variety of bumpy situations, from walking up and down stairs, opening doors, and running around the circle. When we watched the footages of the challenge later, it was not only really cool to see which design resulted in the steadiest shots, but also how some cheap hardware store items can give you a pretty decent Steadi-cam!