Using a chicken as a steadicam

This has been circulating around the net for a bit. For those that haven’t seen it, let me just give you a quick rundown of what is happening. This guy strapped a camera to a chicken’s head. No really, that’s it. There’s some interesting science behind it though. He’s taking advantage of the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex in the chicken.  It is basically the reflex that we use to keep our eyes firmly focused on something while our head is moving. In a chicken however, they move their entire head. This means that he can strap a camera to the chicken’s head and have an instant steadicam. At least that is the theory. As you can see in the video after the break, the harder part is getting the chicken to look at what you want it to look at. We also found a conversation about it with the creator,[MrPennywhistle] in some reddit comments.


  1. Rachel says:

    My concern over the small cameras is how they react to motion. Quick movements or shaking blurs like crazy, and causes chromatic errors in colour cameras. My guess is the oscillator is responding to the motion, but I’m not really sure.

    Sorry, but the chicken certainly wasn’t looking at the microwave. Because their eyes are on the sides of their head, chickens and other birds have the least acuity for objects directly in front of them. It’s why they always tip their head to the side: so they can view you straight on. It makes the reflex a bit more puzzling.

  2. nyder says:

    not a surprise.

    Back when I was a kid, we had some chickens & a rooster, and if you held the chickens, and moved them around, their heads would stay in the same place.

  3. nyder says:


    wow, you just said that 720p wasn’t HD.

    1280×1024 is more pixels then 1280×720.

    1280x720p is considered HD

  4. Koro says:

    Yeah,my bad. I was thinking about full HD (1080p).

  5. Rachel says:

    HD is overrated. I’ll take an SD camera with high quality optics and a decent codec over a mini fixed focus mpeginized HD camera any day.

  6. Elhanan says:

    Not quite a steadicam, but more like the AR rig, it attaches to the steadicam rig and always keeps the camera level with the horizon. Really neat rig we use sometimes. I’ve been thinking of building my own smaller version.

  7. Remarknl says:

    @ Rachel

    chromatic errors are probably caused by the media processor. It has hardware mpeg encoding so the load gets much much higher when you are shaking the camera. It has to transport more data. Avi files of the same resolution and length with the same camera that move a lot and are dynamic, are generally larger than movies of a still scene…mpeg is pretty smart! chromatic errors are due to the fact that color channels are read in series. Sometimes the processor just skips one to keep up with the cmos. Thats(among many other things) why they are around 10$ and proper cams are twenty times the price.

  8. Rachel says:

    No, it’s definitely not a codec artifact. I’ve seen the same effect with mini hardwired composite video cameras. They definitely seem to be sensitive to inertia, since they don’t have this problem if they’re held still while the subject moves.

  9. Remarknl says:

    @ rachel

    well, if you say so…
    Anyway. Have a look at this link:
    It describes all the problems with the camera such as the frameloss.

    I dont think crystals have enough mass to be disturbed by a little g-force.

  10. nes says:

    @Rachel: Actually that could be an artefact of the interlacing. Cheaper cameras do not store the frame before reading it out. Instead they scan directly field by field.

    When encoding to mpeg > 1, the first stage is doing 4:2:0 chroma separation, i.e. one chroma sample is averaged over each group of four pixels in a 2×2 square. If two of those pixels is half a frame older than the other two, that can introduce errors in the color around the edges of moving objects.

    HD cameras quite often scan progressively. so this sort of thing isn’t such a problem.

  11. j s says:

    Are you speaking of an Orlov hen? We used to have one; they’re beautiful birds whose plumage is closer to a hawk or eagle than that of a chicken.

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