The IMAGO International Award for Extraordinary Technical Achievement
Johan Hellsten for the EasyRig
The story of Johan Hellston and Easyrig is a fascinating journey from an idea to a final product. It is an invention that has changed the film and television industry worldwide, and really started when after more than 10 years working as a camera operator, Johan Hellsten started to feel a worrying, sharp pain in his back. At that time, in 1993 he was filming the World Championship of Handball in Sweden and was working handheld since he was by the side line.
His back started to ache after shooting a couple of games and he came up with the idea of Easyrig at that moment. Thinking; ”Why not have a rope hanging from the ceiling that is attached to the camera?”
But then thinking further he decided it would be so hard to move around so let that idea go for the moment, but fortunately Johan had a realisation when he returned to the TV station.
“I have been hiking in the mountains all my life, the backpack that I have used put most of the weight of the bag on my hips. I used a hiking backpack and a steel pipe to construct the very first Easyrig (I first called it Easycam) and it has been improving ever since, now I could say that the Easyrig was born.”
The basic idea of Easyrig is that it transfers the weight of the camera from your back, shoulders and arms to your hips. This will greatly reduce fatigue and make your shots steadier. Instead of being able to shoot for 30 minutes, you’ll be able to shoot for hours without problem.
Johan went to Amsterdam in 1997 to attend IBC, where there was a lot of interest and he managed to secure many agents around the world from that point on. Johan Hellston’s innovative invention, the “Easyrig”, has become a global phenomenon and is enjoying widespread adaptation on film sets everywhere. It enables cinematographers more ease with which to develop their art, and is at the same time also aiding cinematographer´s health and well being. This indispensable tool has saved thousands of camera-person´s backs, helping to preserve and to develop cinematographer´s creativity as visual artists. But by far the greatest blessing which the Easyrig has brought to the world of cinematography, is the liberation that follows when physical strength or sheer stamina no longer need dictate the limitations of a cinematographer´s, or camera operator´s contribution to a shot or execution of a personal cinematic vision. Easyrig is an effective ergonomic relief aid for back and shoulders, intended for camera operators working with handheld cameras where a considerable load relief has been ascertained. The Easyrig provides a good basis for improvement of back health. The results show that this aid can give long term benefits in the form of improved back health, work effectiveness and picture quality.
Johan Hellston: “To be a cameraman for me is the best work in the world!”
One of the many reasons why the IMAGO Technical Committee have awarded the 2020 Extraordinary Technical Achievement Award to Johan Hellston for his Easyrig.