Unlimited AE and Premiere Pro templates, videos & more! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
FREELessons:14Length:1.8 hours

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds

  • Overview
  • Transcript

3.4 Movement

Unless there’s an earthquake going on, your shots should be as stable as possible! In this lesson, you’ll learn how to brace your body and use your environment when recording video handheld.

Related Links

3.4 Movement

Welcome back. I'm Cindy Burgess for Tuts+. In this lesson, we're going to focus on camera movement. As you heard earlier, one of the sure signs of amateur video is shaky unsteady shots. Unless there's an earthquake going on, your shots should be as stable as possible. The easiest way to accomplish this of course is to use a tripod. As you saw earlier, tripods come in all shapes and sizes and some even have bendy legs, so you can attach them to things like trees or fence posts. If you are using a tripod, make sure it's level. Many larger tripods have a little bubble level, what's known as a spirit level to help you do this. If your tripod doesn't have a spirit level, look through the viewfinder at the horizontal and vertical elements in your shot, things like walls or the horizon. Are they off kilter., if so adjust your tripod so that these lines are upright and level. If you don't have a tripod don't worry there is absolutely nothing wrong with capturing video handheld, I do it all the time. Sometimes I'm recording in a location where it's just not practical to lug along a tripod like, climbing through caves. Other times the event I'm capturing is moving too fast for me to keep setting up and adjusting a tripod. Handheld video is just fine. Just follow these simple steps to make your shots as steady as possible. First off, if your camera has an image stabilization feature, and most newer models do turn it on this will help reduce shake next zoom all the way out to the widest shot possible and leave it there do not use the zoom the more you zoom in the shakier the shot gets if you want a closer shot zoom with your feet. In other words move closer. A lot of people like to hold a camcorder like this with their hand through the hand strap. The problem with this is that your arm is going to get tired after a while and start to shake. Nowk a good way to prevent this is to bring your arm in against your body and bring your other arm up underneath to help brace it. Better yet, forget the hand strap all together it really limits movement. Instead, hold the video camera with two hands. Put one hand out and place the camera flat on top and usually then wrap my fingers around the base to get a good grip on it. Use the other hand to help hold the camera steady and operate the record button. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly to absorb any impact. Now, bring your arms in against your rib cage, stay loose and relax don't tense up. I think, you'll find that you've got a pretty stable shot. If your video camera has a view finder like this one, you can cup your hands around the camera and use the viewfinder as a third point of contact to help keep the camera. Just remember to tuck those elbows in against your body. You might have to regulate your breathing or even hold your breath for a few seconds. If you find the movement of your chest in and out affects your shot. If you're recording video with a D S L R or smartphone same thing. Hold it with both hands and tuck your elbows in against your body. You can also use your environment as a tripod. Take a look around you. What objects or surfaces could you use to brace yourself, when recording video handheld? Vertical objects like flagpoles, trees, and walls, are a great way to brace yourself when shooting, just lean into them with your shoulder, hip and thigh. Need to get a low angle? Try placing your camera directly on the ground to steady it. Look for benches, desks, fences, and other horizontal surfaces. The world is your tripod. Now I wanna go back to a point that I made earlier about treating your video camera like a still camera. For some reason, many beginners think that when they're recording video the camera itself has to be moving, but if you watch films and T.V. shows closely, you'll discover that this isn't the case. More often than not the camera itself is still and the action or movement is happening within the frame, when the camera does move the filmmaker has a reason for doing so there's motivation behind the movement. So don't just move the camera because you can. Instead, look for ways to incorporate movement within the frame, let whatever you're recording do the moving instead of the camera. Let's say you want to get a wide shot of the hotel you stayed at. Buildings are boring. They're just static sitting there. That's fine for a photograph. But remember, we're capturing video and one of videos strengths is its ability to show movement. Well sure you could tilt down to add interest to the shot but camera movements like this are hard to do well especially, when you don't have a tripod. Instead look for ways to incorporate movement within the shot. In this example, I want to cross the street so I could get vehicles going through the foreground and people walking along the sidewalk the camera itself isn't movement. But there's movement within the frame which creates energy and interest. Here's another example about the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. So much good food! But rather than showing products just sitting there on shelves, look for movement. People selecting something, stirring something. You get the idea. A good test, when you're framing up a shot is to ask yourself, how is this different from a photograph. If it's not, maybe you should find another shot. Okay, so you've got action happening in your shot. Now resist the urge to follow it with the camera. This is okay occasionally, but if you do it constantly you're fire hosing. Don't be afraid to let your subject move into and out of the frame, like I did with these really cool fish in Mexico. Now, all of this is not to say that you can't move the camera but keep in mind pro's use camera movement sparingly and they do so with purpose. One of the most common camera movements especially, for travel videos is the pan. A pan is a horizontal movement the camera stays in one place usually on a tripod And swivels from left to right or vice versa. It's especially useful for showing landscapes that are vast in size. Here's an example from my recent trip to Peru. We stopped by the side of the road for a view of the Colca Canyon. It was absolutely huge, and the best way for me to show that, was by panning slowly from left to right. Pans can also be used to show the distance between two objects or points of interest, for a video I did about Sam boarding on a volcano in Nicaragua. I wanted to show how far we would be sliding down so I panned left and down from the top of the volcano to the bottom to show our route. On a different volcano in Guatemala, I got a shot of red hot lava and pan left to show how close we were to it. Another common camera movement is the tilt. A tilt is a vertical movement. The camera stays in one place again usually on a tripod and tilts up or tilts down. One reason to use a tilt is to show an object in its entirety. Here's an example of what I'm talking about. This is a gorgeous church in Peru. I wanted viewers to be able to see the whole front because of the incredible detail on it's facade. I was standing too close for the entire church to fit in the frame. So I tilted slowly from top to bottom to give people a look at the whole thing. Another reason to use a tilt, is to establish and even emphasize how high or tall something is, like this waterfall. The other kind of shot where you might use camera movement is the point of view shot, since capturing a character's point of view Involves putting yourself in their shoes so to speak these kinds of shots are often captured handheld. On that volcano in Guatemala, I wanted to give viewers a sense of what it looked and sounded like as we hiked up. So, I recorded this shot, while I was walking holding the video camera in my hands. As you can see the shot is a little jerky, but it shows you my perspective or point of view on the scene. Bottom line, smooth, steady movement is hard to do well especially hand held. the pros make it look easy. I recommend, treating your video camera like a still camera and not moving it. Instead,look for ways to incorporate movement within the frame. In the next lesson, you'll learn about the importance of sound and how to capture it well. Stay tuned.

Back to the top