Video Jargon for Dummies - Part 3


Our third and final blog in the series ‘Video Jargon for Dummies’ is all about camera movement. Check out the first one to read up on framing and read the second one for information on camera angles.

Each of these blogs explains typical videography terms to help marketers have a clearer understanding when discussing videos with their chosen agency. It is not essential to understand these, you can leave that to the video experts! However, it can be helpful in some cases if you have a particular style in mind and don’t know how to describe it.

In instances like talking head interviews, the primary angles usually a still shot on tripod.

However, in many other settings, combining these tripod shots with movement will add an extra dynamic to the video.

In corporate videos, a lot of the ‘cutaway’ shots will be moving shots. The secondary angle of a talking head interview can also be effective when moving, for example on a slider.

There are nine primary methods of camera movement:

1. Pan

A pan shot is when the camera scans a scene horizontally while its base is fixated on a tripod. The position of the camera does not change, only the direction it faces.

Panning is a great movement for sliding a shot from one person to another and for introducing a new element to a shot that was previously not visible in the frame. It is also an excellent movement for establishing a sense of location in your video.

2. Tilt

A tilt is similar to a pan except, instead of the camera moving horizontally, it moves vertically. It is an up-down type of camera movement. Similar to a pan, the camera position remains stationary but the direction it faces changes.

This kind of movement can often work well to open or close a video. It is also a popular camera movement when introducing a character.

3. Pedestal

A pedestal shot is an up-down movement similar to a tilt, except for a pedestal shot the camera position moves, rather than the angle.

4. Dolly

Before you ask, no, this movement does not require a children’s doll! It is the term for when the entire camera moves forwards and/or backward. The camera is typically mounted on a track, a motorised vehicle and sometimes even a plane.

5. Truck

Trucking is similar to a dolly shot, except you are moving the camera from left to right instead of in and out. It is typically a movement past or alongside an object, possibly alongside the action in the shot.

The camera moves along a path while facing sideways. The equipment used for a dolly shot is the same for a truck shot. Using a professional track gives the shot a fluid movement with little jerking.

Trucking is also known as ‘tracking’ or a ‘crab shot’. When you are looking out the window of a moving car, your eyes are essentially ‘trucking’ along the scenery you’re driving by.

6. Crane

These are similar to dolly and truck shots. The difference is that a crane shot is taken in the air. A crane shot is typically a more expensive shot as it requires a substantial piece of equipment called a ‘crane’, also known as a ‘jib’. This equipment can move up, down, left and right. It can swoop in towards an action or move diagonally out of it. A crane is used to film areas that may not be easy to reach manually, for example, the side of a cliff.

7. Aerial

An aerial shot is a variation of a crane shot. It is a shot taken in the air, from a bird’s eye view. A crane is sometimes used for aerial shots, but drones or helicopters are another option if the crane does not go high enough. An aerial shot can move up, down, left and right but can also have no movement at all.

8. Arc

An arc shot is when the camera physically moves in or out, similar to a dolly shot, except an arc shot moves on a curve instead of a straight line. The camera rotates around its subject. The distance from the subject remains the same (unless the subject moves) but the angle at which it views that subject changes.

This camera movement works well with multiple cameras, but it is also possible with one camera. This movement is usually accomplished using a curved track.

8. Zoom

Technically this isn’t a camera movement as the camera is not moving. It is a change in the focal length which gives the illusion of the camera moving closer or further away. As you zoom towards a subject, you are essentially magnifying it.

A smash zoom is a name given to a very fast zoom. A quick zoom can add energy to a fast-paced scene.

9. Dolly Zoom

A dolly zoom is a technique that involves moving the camera closer or further away from a subject while simultaneously adjusting the focal length of a zoom lens to keep the subject the same size in the frame.

This camera movement is commonly used by filmmakers to represent the sensation of vertigo. It is not commonly used in corporate videos.

See 2.02 to 2.04 seconds in this video to see the famous example of a dolly zoom in the film Jaws.

10. Hand-held

This movement only requires the camera and your hand! Without the use of stabilising equipment, handheld footage looks quite organic and 'real'.

Hand-held shots give a ‘fly-on-wall’ effect. You can move as you wish with a hand-held shot – up, down, left and right!

11. Steadicam or Gimbal

Steadicams and gimbals are two different devices that give the natural effect of a handheld shot but result in much smoother shots. This is a common choice of movement for point-of-view shots and ‘walk and talk’ sequences.

The realistic, unperfected movement, from handheld and Steadicam or Gimbal shots, can make the audience feel as though they are part of a scene, rather than spectators who can walk away freely.

As you can see, there are endless movements and techniques you can use in videos. If you’ve seen any that you’d love to have in a video for your business, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your video agency in the pre-production stages.

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