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Troubleshooting

Resources > Blog > Video Production

7 Basic Camera Movements (And Why They Matter!)

Camera movement can add a lot of meaning to your footage, so it’s important to understand how different types of movement are interpreted by your viewers.

23 Feb, 2022

6 min

Video Production
Ed Stennett image

Ed Stennett

Marketing

What are Camera Movements?

Simply put, a camera movement is a filmmaking technique that describes how a camera moves about to help enhance a story. Specific camera movements help change the audience’s view without cutting; they can be a great way to make your video more immersive and engaging. When it comes to User-Generated Video, you might not be able to control the type of footage you receive. Luckily for you, many of these movements can be added in post-production.

Why are Camera Movements Used?

Camera movement can add a lot of meaning to your footage, changing and shaping a viewer’s perspective of a scene. It’s essential to understand how your viewers interpret different types before adding in pans, zooms, tilts, and the like.

We’re going to break down the basic types of camera movement in filmmaking that are achievable with a phone, so next time you’re shooting, you understand the implications of what you’re doing!

7 Basic Camera Movements

Pan

First up is the pan. A pan is when you move your camera from one side to the other. Panning generally is helpful to reveal a larger scene, like a crowd or to reveal something off-screen.

Step your speed up a notch, and you get the whip pan, which is handy for transitions showing the passing of time or travelling a distance dramatically or comically. We cover this in more detail in our last episode, so if you want to learn how to execute a whip pan, go check it out.

Tilt

To tilt, imagine your camera is your head nodding up and down.

Tilts are helpful as a ‘reveal’ technique, either to unveil something from top to bottom or the reverse.

Zoom

‘Zooming’ is probably the most commonly used camera movement; it lets you quickly move closer to the subject without physically moving. But be careful with these, as zooming lessens your image quality.

When you give zooming a go, keep the movement as smooth as possible.

Tracking shot

A ‘tracking shot’ is one in which the camera moves alongside what it’s recording. Tracking shots are sometimes called dolly shots, but they can be differentiated by the direction they take.

Tracking shots will generally follow along the horizontal axis as the subject moves. You’re probably familiar with walking and talking scenes where a tracking shot stays on the subjects as they move.

Tracking shots are also helpful for showing a stretch of road or scenery.

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Dolly shot

A ‘dolly shot’ is when the camera moves toward or away from the subject you’re shooting. Instead of utilising the zoom to get closer, the camera is physically moving relative to the subject.

Using a dolly to push in slowly helps build drama or tension in a scene or simply some significance to the subject it’s moving in on.

Following shot

The ‘following’ shot is a tracking shot in which the camera continuously follows the subject’s action.

If you want to achieve a smooth, seamless following shot, Steadicams and gimbals are your friends. Otherwise, shaky, handheld shots give a sense of realism or unease.

Long following shots, if executed well, are genuinely impressive and mesmerising cinematic feats.

Pedestal

Also known as a Boom up/down, our final shot is the pedestal. This involves moving the camera up or down relative to a subject. It’s different from the tilt that we looked at earlier, as the entire camera ascends or descends, rather than just the camera’s angle. A pedestal shot can be used to frame a tall or high subject (such as a building) while keeping the framing at eye level.

Putting it altogether

So there you have it. Whether you’re using a pan to slowly reveal a piece of information or following the action with a tracking shot, camera movement can help support the story you’re telling.

Bottom line, DON’T move your camera just because you can. Make sure you are moving for a particular reason and motivation.


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