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How to Use a Gimbal: Basic Shots

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Read Time: 2 min
This post is part of a series called How to Shoot Video With a Gimbal.
How To Use a Gimbal: Balancing Your Camera
How To Use a Gimbal: Advanced Shots

Now that you have your gimbal set up and balanced, you can theoretically go out and achieve smooth, jaw-dropping shots that were once the stuff of dreams. But on a practical level, what kind of shots are the most do-able for the single operator?

Running behind a subject with a gimbalRunning behind a subject with a gimbalRunning behind a subject with a gimbal

A favorite shot for many gimbal owners is to follow a subject, walking with them at their pace. Start by shooting them from behind, then go around and shoot them from the side, getting cutaways of the feet and parts of the subject where you don’t see their face. With a gimbal, you can do this in one motion, from the feet on up to the head.

And then you get to shooting in front of the subject as they walk toward you. This is a little more difficult because you have to walk backwards while operating your camera and gimbal. Remember to be safe, look back frequently to avoid obstacles, or have another person walk behind you, touching your back to help lead you in the right direction. Most simply, ask your subject to slow down. That usually makes your job a lot easier.

Walking in front of a subject with a gimbalWalking in front of a subject with a gimbalWalking in front of a subject with a gimbal

If you're not following a subject, there are ways that a gimbal can add beautiful motion to otherwise static shots. For example, you can use the gimbal to emulate a slider or dolly track. Simply find an angle where there is some kind of foreground to emphasize the movement, like a door or an object, and then very slowly sway your body left to right, or right to left. It's OK if the gimbal moves slightly up or down, or rotates around the subject. In fact, the slight rotation creates a shot type that a slider couldn’t achieve without adding more advanced equipment.

You can also use your gimbal to emulate a jib shot—without the hassle of actually setting up and using a big jib. Start the shot with the gimbal up high or down low, and as you move up or down, tilt the camera so that it stays focused on a subject or a general area. You can also do a more advanced jib shot by moving from side to side as you go up or down. This kind of shot is really great for making static—or otherwise boring—shots come alive, such as introductory shots of a building exterior.

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