Video Making Tips: Moving Your Camera


When shooting a video, there are few things that will annoy your audience more than the camera moving at random intervals for no apparent reason! This is especially true when something catches the viewer’s attention only for the camera to suddenly cut away before they have had the opportunity to fully process what they are seeing. At this point it is fairly certain that the viewer will lose interest in the video completely. In short–do not move the camera without a good reason.

When Will I Be Ready For Moving Shots?

Is there some unspoken rule about how many static videos you should complete before trying a moving shot? Can you get 25 static videos under your belt and then start moving around? In short, no! Even once you are experienced in static shooting, you may not need to progress to moving shots.

In fact, even after a lifetime of shooting video every single videographer should follow a very important rule of thumb. When you are preparing to move your camera during a shoot, stop for just a moment and ask yourself ‘why?’ If you cannot justify your motivation for moving the camera, the chances are you probably shouldn’t do it. If you don’t have confidence in your choices then neither will your audience.

When Is Moving The Camera Appropriate?

In any video, whether it is a feature film or footage of a memorable event, the important thing is to stay with your hero for the duration of the shot. When he walks, you walk with him. For example, when shooting a wedding video the bride is your hero and your viewers will expect you to move down the aisle with her, keeping her in the shot along the way.

In addition to following your hero, another valid reason for moving the camera in a shot can be to draw attention to something. Moving in close to someone’s face will instruct the viewer to take note of that person’s reactions. This is also useful when showing an important action, such as a close shot of a magician performing a magic trick. However, to be successful you will need to practice these types of camera movements so that you can learn how to achieve what you are attempting.

An Exercise In Movement

In order to improve your skill with camera movement, try performing this simple exercise as often as you can. You should begin with a still shot and start incorporating the following movements, just to see the effect they have on your shot. Once you become more comfortable with the movements, you can begin to use them intentionally to add value to the shot. The basic movements that you need to practice are as follows:

  • Walk Towards Your Subject – You will need to make sure that you keep the camera steady as you walk towards the subject of your shot. Always keep your ‘hero’ in the frame as your main focus and try to move towards your hero as smoothly as possible.
  • Move Away From Your Subject – The same rules apply here as moving closer to the subject, except you will no doubt be walking backwards and so extra care will need to be taken. You might prefer to have an assistant act as a guide for you.
  • Follow Your Subject – Identify your ‘hero’ and follow their movement by tilting or panning the camera while being careful to keep their head inside your frame.
  • Moving Up & Down – This movement is commonly called the ‘boom shot’. It is important to keep your movement smooth by simply slowly bending your knees to boom down and straightening them to come back up. Try not to use your arms.

You can also combine these basic movements, for example, panning to the left as you move closer to the subject. It is a case of reviewing your footage in order to see what gives you the best effect.

 Donna has spent 12 years of her professional career as a journalist in the film and television industry. Now she writes for Edictive on production management and business side of the entertainment industry.
License: Image author owned

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