Camera Moves – RESEARCH
I HAVE READ THROUGH THIS AND TO PROVE THAT I HAVE READ IT FOR THE PURPOSE OF MY RESEARCH, I HAVE HIGHLIGHTED IMPORTANT PARTS THAT I FOUND MIGHT BE EFFECTIVE DURING MY FILM.
There are principally two ways in which a film camera can move, known respectively as panning and tracking.
The camera moves vertically, horizontally or diagonally on a fixed axis, either on a tripod or the cameraman/woman’s shoulder. The position of the camera does not change. In order to achieve a smooth pan it is necessary to have a high-quality tripod with a hydraulic shock-absorbing head. Only a tripod head which has such a fluid-based shock absorber e
ables the camera to be started without a jolt, to be moved smoothly and gently stopped.
Achieving a pan that is not jerky when filming with a hand-held camera takes a great deal of practice and, as a rule, is something only a professional cameraman/woman can do. Nevertheless, there will be situations in which filming with the camera on your shoulder is unavoidable, either because there is no tripod to hand or no time to set one up.
In order for the pan to be a success despite all the compromises, you should follow these general rules:
- Before beginning the shot, think about exactly where it is going to begin and end. It is always worth doing a ‘dry run’.
- Adjust your lens to the shortest possible focal length (wide angle), firstly, because you want to get as much as possible into the shot and secondly because you can only achieve an acceptably clear focus if your focal length is short and you pan slowly.
- Turn off the automatic focus so that the camera does not focus on objects in the foreground whilst you are panning. Adjust the focus manually (probably to infinity).
- Begin by shooting for about five seconds without moving the camera. The shot must not, under any circumstances, begin with a pan. That is a rule which should never be broken.
- Carry out your panning shot by turning the top half of your body only, following the line you have created in your mind. Stand firmly, legs slighty apart. When looking straight ahead the camera should point to the middle of your panning shot, so that the right and left halves are equally distributed.
- Continue shooting – and this is another absolute must – for about four seconds at the point where your pan finishes. (Richter, Günter: Richtig Videofilmen von Anfang an. Gilching 1994, p.45)
A panning shot should be for a reason and have a purpose. Random swings to and fro produce an unpleasant feeling in the viewer, even to the extent that s/he will turn away in disgust. Reasons for panning shots are:
- To follow an object that is moving (follow shot)
- To provide an overview (panorama)
- To follow someone’s line of vision (bridge shot)
- To animate a static object (narrative pan)
A panning shot connects two frames with one another – the state before the camera movement and the state after the camera has moved. Both the opening and closing frame must be able to stand alone so that later, when editing, it is possible to choose between a panning shot and two static ones.
“Let us take for example the problem of the choice between panning from one object to another and cutting from one to the other. Most people would say that a cut is more manipulated, that it interrupts the continuity and re-shapes reality and that therefore a panning shot would be the more realistic of the two alternatives, as the integrity of the space is preserved. Yet the opposite is true when considering the pan or cut from the observer’s point of view. When we turn our attention from one object to another we very rarely actually ‘pan’. Psychologically, what happens is more similar to cutting. First we direct our attention on one object, then to the other; we are seldom interested in the space in between, and yet the panning shot draws out attention to exactly that area.” (Monaco, James: Film verstehen, Reinbek 1995, p.177)
A tracking shot is one in which the camera itself changes its position. It is the most elegant, but also the most difficult, method to use when shooting. When shooting a feature film the camera is moved by means of a ‘dolly’; a carriage with wheels with rubber tyres running on rails. The camera can also be raised hydraulically to a height of about 2 metres. If it needs to be moved in a higher vertical position then a special crane is used. This kind of equipment is of course only available and appropriate for major professional projects. Nevertheless, with a bit of imagination, it is possible to achieve successful tracking shots without a proper dolly. The simplest method is to film from a moving train or car. A part of the window or the wing mirror should be visible in the frame so that the unavoidable jerkiness is comprehensible to and accepted by the viewer.
In fact, any form of moving vehicle is suitable which can be pushed or pulled without bumps and jerks or vibration. Experience has shown wheelchairs to be satisfactory, the camerawoman or man sitting in it, holding the camera on his /her shoulder.
Authors: Robert Lambrecht and Berti Schwarz. © Robert Lambrecht and Berti Schwarz.
I BELIEVE THAT I HAVE GAINED KNOWLEDGE ON HOW TO PERFORM PANNING AND TRACKING. WE WERE GOING TO USE A SHOPPING TROLLY FOR TRACKING IN OUR 2 MINUTE FILM AS A GROUP, BUT GIVEN THE TIME WE HAD WE DID’NT GET ENOUGH TIME BECAUSE OF ACTOR’S BEING UNAVAILABLE AND REQUIRED ATTENTION TO OTHER MODULES.