7 Basic Camera Movements

Video Tutorials
May 15, 2019

7 Basic Camera Movements


If you can’t find the exact clip you need for your video with stock footage, you might need to film it yourself. In this post, we’re heading back to Video Production 101 to review the seven most basic cinematography movements. These fundamental camera techniques can inspire a countless number of combinations that will add depth and visual interest to your next video project.

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1. Zoom

Without a doubt, zooming is the most used (and therefore, most overused) camera movement there is. It is often used as a clutch when the videographer is not sure what else to do to add interest to a shot. If you are going to use zoom, try to use it creatively. Zoom in or out from an unexpected, yet important, object or person in your shot. Use a quick zoom to add energy to a fast-paced piece. Don’t get stuck with your zoom as your default move!

 

Download this video of a zoom shot.

2. Pan

Panning is when you move your camera horizontally; either left to right or right to left, while its base is fixated on a certain point. You are not moving the position of the camera itself, just the direction it faces. These types of shots are great for establishing a sense of location within your story.

 

Download this video of a pan shot.

3. Tilt

Tilting is when you move the camera vertically, up to down or down to up, while its base is fixated to a certain point. Again, like panning, this move typically involves the use of a tripod where the camera is stationary but you move the angle it points to. These shots are popular when introducing a character, especially one of grandeur, in a movie.

 

Download this video of a tilt shot.

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4. Dolly

A dolly is when you move the entire camera forwards and backwards, typically on some sort of track or motorized vehicle. This type of movement can create beautiful, flowing effects when done correctly. If you want to attempt a dolly, make sure your track is stable and will allow for fluid movement.

 

Download this video of a dolly shot.

5. Truck

Trucking is the same as dollying, only you are moving the camera from left to right instead of in and out. Again, it is best to do this using a fluid motion track that will eliminate any jerking or friction.

 

Download this video of a truck shot.

6. Pedestal

A pedestal is when you move the camera vertically up or down while it is fixated in one location. This term came from the use of studio cameras when the operators would have to adjust the pedestal the camera sat on to compensate for the height of the subject. A pedestal move is easy to do when the camera is fixated to an adjustable tripod.

 

Download this video of a pedestal shot.

7. Rack Focus

Ok, rack focus is not as much of a camera move as it is a technique, but many beginners overlook this essential skill. You adjust the lens to start an image blurry and then shift the focus to make it crisper, or vice versa. It is an extremely effective way for you to change your audience’s focus from one subject to another.

 

Download this video of a rack focus shot.

Can’t decide when to use each type of camera movement? Check out the variety of motion and shot styles in our stock footage library for some inspiration.

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