Shoot like a pro: use these techniques to bring a professional edge to your video.

Author:Salvo, Suzanne Scardino
Position:Visually speaking


Professional videographers have mastered the art of selecting the ideal camera move to enhance the message. Like pairing the perfect wine with a meal, there are elements of both art and science, and there is no substitute for experience. And, like white wine with fish, there are classic pairings you should use to make your productions more appetizing. Here are some examples.

The pan

What: The camera moves on a horizontal plane left to right or vice versa. When: Use it to delineate relationships between people or objects that are far apart. Or make your audience feel as though they are part of the scene by following an action rather than having it pass through the frame. Examples: the beginning to the end of an assembly line or left/right on a meeting in progress. Slowing down the pan will emphasize size and scope. How: A tripod is highly recommended. Experiment with different speeds to judge what will work best.

The tilt

What: The camera angles up or down without changing its position. When: A tilt is a pan in a vertical plane. Use it to follow an action like a moving elevator or a hand being raised. Tilts demonstrate distance relationships, like from a mountain peak down to the valley floor or from the ground to the top of a building. How: With both the tilt and the pan moves, start (and end) with an establishing still shot, and then execute the movement. Without these anchors, the scene could appear jarring and confusing.

Rack focus

What: This is also referred to as pull focus. Begin with sharp focus on one object in the frame, and Then, without reframing, quickly roll focus to another part of the scene, rendering the original in-focus object blurry.

When: Use it to link a person to an activity--that is, as a transitional device.

How: A tripod is a must. A pull focus looks very bad if it is shaky. You'll need practice to ensure sharpness at the beginning and end of the move.

Shot selection and camera movement are only one small aspect of the complex undertaking...

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