Filmmaking 101: Camera Movement

Filmmaking 101: Camera Movement

Welcome to Brading images. We are a Photography and Videography studio in Manchester, Salford, Irlam. We primarily do music videos and family photoshoots in the studio. We particularly enjoying doing: Newborn photoshoots, one year old photoshoots, toddler photoshoots, kids photoshoots, fairy photoshoots, mother daughter photoshoots, maternity photoshoots and siblings photoshoots, here, in manchester!

Outside the studio, we run a film club called The Stage and Screen Academy, where we teach filmmaking 101.

Unlike in photography, in film we are able to move the camera whilst we are taking a shot. This can be used to create a huge variety of effects and help to tell your story. 

The most simple camera movements can be achieved by just using a standard camera tripod.

First, the Pan – this is when the camera turns from left to right, or right to left. It is often used to follow the action in the scene or to reveal new information to the audience.

Second, the Tilt – these are just like pans, except the camera turns vertically – moving down to up, or up to down. These can be used to show how large something is. They can also be used to create a transition between two scenes.

Third, the Zoom – whilst the camera is not technically moving here – it gives the illusion of making the subjects bigger or smaller in the frame. This could be used to reveal a small detail in a big scene, or to emphasise how large something is.

You could also take your camera off the tripod for the Handheld shot. This is often used to give a fake documentary feel to the film, or to make the audience feel like they are there in the scene. It gives the film a more gritty feel than the other movements.

There are also camera movements which are named after the specialised camera equipment that is required to achieve them.

There’s tracking shots – this is when the camera physically moves either left to right, or forward to backward. It’s called a tracking shot because the camera is often mounted on a track which allows it to slide in a given direction. Moving forward, or tracking in, to a scene might help to focus the audience’s attention on a specific detail. Moving the camera backward, or tracking out, might help to show a character’s loneliness. Tracking sideways allows you to follow your characters progress through a specific scene.

Next, we have the Jib – this is when the camera is physically lifted up or down by a camera crane or Jib. Often these are a great way of establishing the location of your scene. 

Finally, the Steadicam or Gimbal – this is when the camera is mounted on a special device which allows it to be moved in any direction by the operator whilst remaining very stable and smooth. This allows you to follow your character all the way through a scene.
So let’s recap. We have multiple ways of moving a camera: pan, tilt, tracking, jib, handheld and steadicam or gimbal. These can all be used to help reveal information to the audience, or create an emotional connection to your characters. There are also plenty of other advanced movements, including the “Dolly Zoom” where the camera is zoomed in while it is moving backwards – which creates the effect of the background being crushed.

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