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March 1, 2016 Kim Sertich

Top 10 Camera Movement Tips

Spectrum Video types of camera movement

Adding camera movement to your shots, whether it be a jib arm or track and dolly, makes a video production project more compelling and interesting to the viewer, and is more dynamic than standard tilts and pans.

By moving the camera, the relationship between foreground and background objects changes – which adds depth to your shots. With foreground objects moving against the background, the viewer perceives your project in three dimensions.

You might need to move the camera to reveal something that was not in the frame before or to follow a moving subject – from the side, front, back or top to bottom. A move toward the subject builds and focuses intensity and interest. A move away from the subject relaxes interest and “distances” the viewer from the subject.

There are numerous options for camera movement. Here’s a link showing a few of them that Spectrum Video has used recently. https://vimeo.com/157326027

 

Handheld

  • Zooming out all the way is best when operating a handheld camera. When shooting a scene that is meant to have urgency, handheld is one way to go. A handheld camera adds life to a static shot with subtle but controlled random motion. It adds more energy, reality and immediacy than a locked-down tripod shot.

Jib Arm

  • A Jib lets you move the camera in a sphere from about 15 feet high to ground level. A jib arm, even when not moving, lets you get impossible or difficult shots, like directly over the subject shooting straight down or moving underneath looking straight up. Swooping from ground level to 15 feet up in the air in one smooth fluid motion is very dramatic.

Steadicam

  • The Steadicam is the most commonly used professional movement device. Because the camera operator “wears” the camera stabilizer mount, you can get a smooth shot no matter what your movement. It lets the operator go anywhere without the stabilization problems that arise with a handheld camera.

Gimbal

  • This lightweight stabilizer is an alternative to the Steadicam. The downside is it’s harder to hold for long periods. The upside, the operator isn’t strapped to it, so it can be handed off to another camera operator.

Track and Dolly

  • The camera is mounted on a special platform with wheels and travels along a track, for a smooth movement. This gives a great look to your shot, especially when it’s covering a large area.

Doorway Dolly

  • Similar to track and dolly but much smaller. Two, 10-foot tracks that can be put on the ground or elevated with stands, gives a dramatic side-to-side motion.

Vehicle Camera Mounts

  • Shooting from a moving vehicle will add greatly to your production, but it’s best to have a camera mount to keep the shot steady.

Slider/Pocket Dolly

  • This has a much smaller frootprint and allows movement in smaller areas for close quarter shots. Spectrum owns a Pocket Dolly with 29-inch slider, and it’s great to travel with because it’s portable.

Drone

  • Drones have made getting aerial shots more affordable, and may be the ultimate in camera movement vehicles.

Improvise

  • If you are on a budget or a need comes up on location (as shown in the above clip), the camera operator can get in a wheelchair or shopping cart on a smooth surface, hold the camera steady and have someone push them.

If you have any questions on camera movement, visit spectrumvideoandfilm.com.

Article by Ken Liljegren, owner and president of Spectrum Video & Film. Spectrum Video & Film is a professional video production company in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona specializing in corporate, commercial and online social media videos, as well as projection, lighting and sound. To find out more about how we can help with your next video or event, visit us at spectrumvideoandfilm.com.

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