Since the dawn of motion pictures, camera operators everywhere have tried to create ways to make the shot more interesting, more compelling, and more dynamic.
A tripod is good, essential even, and believe us, you can live or die by the quality of tripod you use, but what we’re talking about today is the importance of moving the camera through the shot. To do this, we sat down with our Director of Photography, Ryan Logan, to get an inside look at how we break down each video shoot, conceptualize commercials, and work through cinematic challenges.
Make the video shoot the best it can be
As a Director of Photography (DP), I’m always trying to make the shot the best it can be with whatever budget we have. If our client has next to no budget, I still try to create movement, even if it’s using some homemade dolly that rolls on a ten-foot length of PVC pipe. However, when there is some money there, I always use a doorway dolly, Dana dolly, jib, gimbal, Steadicam, or drone. Even handheld can convey a particular mood.
Photography Directors Love Using A Jib
My favorite method of moving the camera through a shot is the jib. Especially when it comes to a big establishing shot. In my opinion, nothing is more beautiful than a well-thought-out, sweeping establishing shot that whisks the viewer into the action. So much emotion is conveyed by how the camera moves. Slow dolly or jib shots are generally relaxing, while handheld, jittery shots are edgy and create a feeling of anxious energy. You can see this yourself if you really pay attention. Try spending some time watching movies and count how many shots have the camera moving. It’s more than you think. I will watch movies and analyze the lighting, camera placement, camera movement, and shot selection, which helps me stay current with filmmaking techniques.
Creating Movement While Filming An Interview
It’s not just the big shots that should be moving. When shooting interviews (for any purpose) I love to use a real slow dolly move. I will move the camera back and forth along the dolly, just letting the shifting background make the shot more interesting than just a talking head. Of course, sometimes the background or small space doesn’t allow you to move the camera, and that’s all right. The point is, ask yourself if the shot can be better. If so, start with creating movement when looking for ways to inspire interest.
Don’t Discount the Lock-Down Shot
Now, I don’t want to take away from the good ol’ lockdown shot. Sometimes you’ve got to let the action speak for itself. But, as a rule, I begin every shot by looking for ways to keep the camera moving. Onset, a good DP will help you inspire movement. We work with many different clients creating broadcast commercials, political PSAs, and more. No matter the task, movement can drastically increase the experience of viewing the video and ultimately, the end result.