Join Anthony Q. Artis for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding camera moves, part of Video Foundations: Cameras and Shooting.
Okay, in this movie I'm going to go over some common camera moves and give you some advice on how you can best execute and use camera moves to better tell your visual story. A static, stationary camera is a sure way to bore your audience. Camera moves like pans, tilts, and zooms go a long way to make your videos look much more dynamic and interesting. These moves are most often done from a tripod, but you can also pull them off handheld. So let's start with one of the most basic camera moves, a pan.
A pan move is any movement of the camera from left to right or right to left. It's a perfect way to shift the focus of your scene from one subject to the next, to show reactions to the main character or to just transition into or out of a scene. So let's talk about executing a pan move now. Before we start, we are going to check to make sure our tripod isn't locked down. Then we are going to adjust the pan tension on the tripod. The tension controls the amount of resistance, so if you want a really fast pan move, you want to loosen the tension some, and if you want a more slow and deliberate pan, you'll probably need to tighten the pan tension.
Let's go through the three steps to pan. Step 1: focus up and adjust your composition to your desired starting shot. Step 2: nice and easy, use the tripod handle to smoothly move the camera from one side to the other until you land on your desired end shot. Step 3: adjust the focus as necessary on your end shot. And voila! You've got yourself a pan. Now let's talk about tilt moves.
Tilt moves are basically the same as pans, only instead of moving left or right, a tilt move is a move up or down. So it's tilts a camera on the tripod. Just like with the pan, the first thing we are going to do is adjust the tension on our fluid head tripod so that our tilt is at the right speed with the right amount of resistance for the weight of our camera and our own comfort level. So now let's go through the steps for tilt move. Step 1: focus up and adjust your composition to your desired starting shot.
Step 2: nice and easy, use the tripod handle to smoothly move the camera up or down until you land on your desired end shot. Step 3: adjust the focus as necessary for your end shot. So that's a tilt move, pretty much the exact same as the pan move but up and down. So these are all pretty simple moves, but now let's talk about zoom moves. Whether you are zooming in or out, there one constant, your move has to be smooth like butter.
That means it should be slow, steady, and controlled. This means you absolutely need to be familiar with the sensitivity of your particular camera zoom control, because these controls are often pressure sensitive. So the lighter you press, the slower the move, the harder you press, the faster. The key to getting smooth zooms, whether fast or slow, is to maintain the exact same amount of pressure on the rocker control all the way through the move, and that's all there is to it. So those are the simplest explanations when it comes to the three basic camera moves, but there are actually a few more variables that come into play that we'll also need to take into consideration if we want to get the best results.
So I am going to give you three quick tips to help you pull off better camera moves every time. Tip #1, decide your end shot ahead of time. Just like writing a script, if you start out not knowing exactly where you're going to end up, it's a lot harder to get there. So a big part of any camera move is knowing what your end shot is going to be before you start the move. Even if you're shooting a live documentary scene, scan the scene with your eyes and find the logical end shot for your move.
For example, if you were tilting up let's just say on a guy, a logical end point might be the top of his head. However, you may decide that the move will work better in editing for your story if you keep tilting past the top of his head to the sky. I suggest doing your pan and tilt moves both ways. Stopping with the subject in the frame and continuing past your subject to give yourself more options in the edit room. Tip #2, practice your move just like a golf swing or free-throw.
Nobody just steps up to the golf tee or the free throw line in the basketball court and just goes for it right away. Instead, they take a few practice strokes. They line up the shot. Well, what we need to do, the same exact things when we are behind the camera, because doing a few practice moves before you hit the record button will greatly improve your odds of getting a good move the first time out. In the case of zoom moves, if your camera has a zoom scale on the screen, use it to precisely plan your starting and ending shot so that you can always end on the same composition.
Making it a habit to practice your camera moves before you hit the record button will save you media space and time in editing, sifting through five bad camera moves to find the one move that eventually worked. Tip #3, adjust your focus and composition for the end shot as you go. Now if your end subject is at a different distance than your starting subject, chances are you are going to need to adjust your focus as well as your composition in order to maintain a good and consistent shot. This is especially true when you're zoomed all the way in.
This is another great reason to practice your move ahead of time, so you can figure out exactly how much you'll need to push in, pull out, or adjust your focus before you get there. Now you can always just complete the move and adjust your shot at the end, but it definitely looks smoother and more professional if you can adjust your frame and focus simultaneously as you make your move. Now moving the camera, focusing, and zooming all at the same time can definitely be a tricky feet to pull off, especially if you want the experience.
So one thing you can try is using autofocus and auto exposure for these type of tricky camera moves so that all you have to do is move your camera and adjust your composition as you go. So those are the basic camera moves you can execute from a tripod. These three moves can also be accomplished handheld, but I'll talk about handheld shooting more in another movie in this chapter. Now there are many reasons to move your camera at different points, but know that camera moves always work best if there is a story-driven-reason to make them.
Remember, practice makes perfect, so get familiar with your camera's controls and tripod and think and plan it through beforehand, and you'll get smoother moves every time.
- Exploring the different types of video cameras
- Understanding how to focus
- Shooting with shallow depth of field
- Understanding exposure
- Using ND filters to correct overexposure
- Using gain to brighten an underexposed shot
- Choosing the right shutter speed
- White-balancing a shot
- Working with a tripod
- Shooting handheld
- Using a boom microphone
- Setting up a 4-point lighting scene
- Using corrective gels