Shots classified by camera movement

Instructional Video Production 4(1+3)

Lesson 06: Types of Shots

Shots classified by camera movement

Why would we need camera movement if the camera position has been decided before recording a shot? A camera move is usually prompted either to add visual interest, to express excitement, to increase tension or curiosity, to provide a new subject of interest, or to provide a change of viewpoint.
In short, a camera movement always provides new information.

Whether the addition of new information is required or not is an aesthetic decision the director makes. It is important that camera movements be used judiciously. Or else the filmmaker runs the risk of distracting the viewer away from the content with a number of moving shots.

Camera movement should be motivated by the action and controlled in speed and timing. Movement of camera without motivation will attract at­tention to the movement itself and not the content. Secondly, good compo­sition should be maintained throughout the movement. Odd composition between the beginning and the end of the movement will result in the viewer turning away.
There are two basic camera movements: the pan and the tilt.

Pan The simplest camera movement is the pan. The horizontal move­ment of the camera-left and right-even as the pedestal (also called the tripod) stays stationary is called a pan, shown in Fig. 1.1l(a). This move­ment does not involve the movement of the camera mount (camera stand). The pan is often used to give visual variety among a number of static shots, but usually the main use of a pan, apart from keeping a moving object/ subject in frame, is to show relationships. Shots beginning with a pan should be well-balanced and continue to do so until the pan ends.

Tilt Another simple camera movement is the tilt. The vertical movement of the camera-up and down-even as the pedestal stays stationary is called a tilt, shown in Fig. l.11(b). The tilt, resembling the movement of our head up and down, provides a view of the elements lying above and below the field of view, so to say. Like the pan, there needs to be a motivation for a tilt. Needless to say, the frame should be well-balanced at the beginning and at the end of a tilt.
Apart from the pan and the tilt, the other camera movements are track in/out, truck left/right, zoom in/out, arc right/left, pedestal up/down. Let us examine these movements in detail.

Track in/track out Also called 'dolly in' and 'dolly out', track in/track out is the combined physical movement of the camera along with the pedestal.


The camera and the pedestal are mounted on a track and trolley that moves the camera either towards or away from the principal object. Moving the camera towards or away from the subject alters the size relationships be­tween foreground and background objects. The perceptual change is simi­lar to what we observe when we physically move towards or away from an object. Tracking conforms to our normal visual experience and also sets up interesting rearrangements of all the visual elements in the camera's field of view (Fig. 1.12).

Truck left/truck right Also called 'crab left' and 'crab right', truck left! truck right involves the lateral movement of the camera and the tripod mounted on a track and trolley. In this case, the camera moves sideways on its mount along with the subject. It is mainly used to follow the subject moving across the screen. Trucking or crabbing is also used to reveal the extent of a scene, section by section, and also a series of objects. It is impor­tant to keep the frame steady and maintain the same shot size all along the shot. When two persons engaged in dialogue are walking across the frame, a truck shot looks as if a third person is listening in on their conversation (Fig. 1.13).

Arc right/arc left As the name itself suggests, the angular movement of both the camera and the tripod mounted on a track and trolley is called arc. Also meant to provide fresh viewpoints, arching serves to change visual emphasis on a subject while the camera is in movement.
Zoom in/out Whereas in track in/out, the camera and the pedestal (tri­pod) move physically either towards or away from an object, in zoom in/ out, the camera and the tripod are steady, but the combination of lenses in the camera head moves forward and backward in order to get closer or farther away from the object. We shall learn more about lenses and their uses in the next chapter on camera.

While tracking is the physical movement of the camera towards or away from the subject, altering the distance between the camera and the subject, zooming in simply magnifies the central portion of the field of view, keep­ing intact the existing size relationships. Similarly, zooming out merely re­sults in diminution of the subject while a few more visual elements get in­cluded due to the widening of the field of view. A tracking shot allows the viewer a greater opportunity to experience the depth of the space pic­tured-which a zoom or a static shot cannot.

Pedestal up/pedestal down When the camera mounted on a pedestal moves up and down, we refer to it as ped-up or ped-down movement of the camera. Such movements help achieve top-angle or low-angle shots within a frame. A ped-up position means a 'look down' at the subject. Similarly, a ped-down position would mean the subject is being 'looked up' at. A ped-­up position of the camera helps in seeing over foreground objects and also the overall action. In other words, it reduces the prominence of the fore­ground, and reduces subject strength. A ped-down position does exactly the opposite. It helps in framing a picture with foreground objects and ob­tains level shots of low subjects. It increases the prominence of the subject and emphasises the subject's strength. All the above movements help in providing fresh viewpoints without going in for any transition, including the cut. Exhibit 1.2 provides a quick reference to these basic shots. You will notice that each kind of camera movement has a specific purpose and should be used accordingly.

Last modified: Saturday, 21 April 2012, 12:39 PM