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7 Types of Camera Movements and How to Add Camera Movement

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Aug 30, 2022• Proven solutions

The camera movement simply refers to the filming equipment’s motion to give the audience a more expansive and enhanced view of the scene being filmed. Camera movements have eliminated the need for tedious hours of editing sequences together. Now you can film longer shots and with a more realistic appearance. And moving the camera in specific ways can help you direct the audience’s attention to a particular part of a clip or introduce a dramatic effect in your clip to interest the viewers. The good news is that these techniques are super comfortable and won’t cost you a kidney.

How Camera Movements Come From?

In the earliest times, shots were filmed by stationary cameras because they were huge and almost impossible to move. However, cinematographers in the early 1900s introduced the concept of panning, zooming, and dollying to express their narratives to the audience better. These were just the basic types of camera movements that further evolved into complex cinematographic techniques over decades under audience expectations and technological advancements. Although by the 1920s, most of the camera movements were introduced, it wasn't until recently that equipment to bring this type of filming into existence emerged.

7 Types of Camera Movements You Should Know

The introduction of 7 main types of camera movement took cinematography to a whole new level. The good news is that these techniques are super comfortable and won’t cost you a kidney. Let me walk you through the seven main camera moves.

1. Pan Camera Movement

One of the earliest cameras moves, also known as ‘panorama,’ basically involves mounting the camera on a tripod stand with a moveable pivot. You can move the camera from left to right or vice versa, but the tripod stands still. Panning is much similar to moving your head from side to side.

You can use panning to chase a thief from one end of the street to another or provide a wide view of the serene beach. It makes off-screen filming so much easier and widens the field of vision, and all it takes is a stand and a simple camera. So even if you’re low on budget, using this technique, coupled with your creativity, is bound to grip the audience’s attention.

2. Dolly Camera Movement

Dolly, here isn’t your childhood Barbie doll. It is a wheeled moveable platform to hold your camera while the platform is moved in real space. Dollying, although sounds funny but is an effective cinematic technique. It lets you move the camera forwards or backward, also known as a dolly in or dolly out. In the dolly movement, the camera remains stationary, and the track is carrying it moves back and forth. Hence dollying is commonly known as a ‘tracking shot.’ It magnifies or de-magnifies the scene. However, I will explain how it is different from the term ‘zooming.’ You will need a moveable platform to ensure fluid movements and avoid shaky motions, but there is no need for a high-quality camera.

3. Zoom Camera Movement

The over-utilized and often underestimated zoom technique holds immense potential to capture stunning shots. Ignoring it might be a grave mistake on your part. Zooming is not a movement rather a skill. It involves adjusting the focal length of the camera while it stays stationary. You can easily zoom in and shoot a spying scene with clarity. Zoom out to film a vast landscape and give the audience a better sense of the surrounding environment without moving the camera an inch. But you will need a high-quality camera so that the shots are crystal clear.

4. Tilt Camera Movement

Much like panning, tilt movement alters the angle of view. The camera in this movement will be mounted on a stationary stand with a rotating head to render camera movement vertically. Just like we look up and down, tilting means moving the camera up and down. It is usually used to shoot something of grandeur or superiority.  You can use it to film skyscrapers or introduce a gigantic robot. Shooting from a high point will let you look down and portray inferiority. No high-tech equipment needed to ace this technique, a tripod stand with a dash of creativity is all you will need.

5. Tilt Camera Movement

Trucking is often confused with the dolly camera movement. Indeed, these techniques are quite the opposite in terms of direction. Although trucking involves the same supporting equipment like a moveable track, the camera is moved sideways instead of back and forth. This will allow you to shoot lengthwise, and a widespread building or area will be easily filmed in a single take. You should use a slideable platform or motion gear to avoid jerky movements that could ruin your shot’s quality. Luckily, you can use this technique even if you don’t own a fancy camera.

6. Pedestal

The most prominent camera movement has to be the pedestal movement. Cinematographers have used a ‘pedestal,’ an adjustable tripod stand, to create stunning effects in their films. The flexibility of the stand allows the camera to be moved up and down as well as sideways. You can give the audience a tour of a huge valley and provide a superficial yet expansive landscape view. Pedestal movement gives the impression of something being lifted off the ground towards the sky, and using a pedestal will ensure fluid movements and give your video a Hollywood effect.

7. Rack Focus

Rack focus is again more skill than a technique. The camera is placed on a stationary plane while the focus of the lens is shifted. You can drag or shift the audience’s attention from one subject to another or transition from one scene to another without moving the camera. An object hidden in the frame can be suspensefully revealed by bringing it into focus through the racking technique. Also known as ‘focus puller,’ this is the best way of directing the viewer’s attention to specific detail. Unfortunately, you will not be able to perform this technique unless you own a high-quality professional camera.

Conclusion

The film industry has evolved significantly over the last few decades. The credit mainly goes to the advancements in filming equipment. If it were not for the supporting equipment and high-fi gears, we won't be able to pull off such cool shots today.

Even if you are not a professional filmmaker, mastering camera moves will let you create stunning effects in no time. Most of these techniques won't take much of your time or budget. All in all, camera movement is an art that an aspiring artist must use to give realistic effects to otherwise staged scenes.

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Benjamin Arango
Benjamin Arango is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Benjamin Arango

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