Camera movements in film making

Bharat Kalluri / 2020-11-15

If you have ever met and talked to me in person, you probably already know I love films and film-making. I was always awed by the types of camera movements directors use to convey tension in films. One video by StudioBinder on Youtube explained the different types of camera movement used in film making and it blew my mind. Apparently there are 15 kinds of camera movements. Let's go through them one by one.

Static Shot

  • Zero camera movement
  • Emphasizes the subject
  • Used to focus on an actors performance
  • Simplest, and often the most powerful

Example from wolf of wall street. Static shot on two different actors fantastic performances for six minutes straight.

Same thing in la la land, the infamous argument scene

Pan

  • Rotation of the camera on X axis
  • They can be either slow or fast, fast pans are also called as whip pans
  • They add context to the scene
  • Can also establish connect between two entities

The jazz dance scene in la la land is a long series of pans, fast and slow.

Tilt

  • Same as pan, but on the Y axis
  • Usually convey awe or spectacle when used in scenes
  • Also can show character dominance or amazement

The city bending scene from inception show the tilt on the character to show the feeling of awe and on the landscape to reveal its scale.

Push in

  • Draw the audience into the scene and the character
  • Usually done slowly to show the conflict the character is facing

The killing scene from Godfather. The push in starts at 1:30 and goes till 2:00. Observe that the audio is in italian (Nothing to distract an english speaker), the audio slightly fades as the camera pushes in. The train sound amplifies the chaos and at after 30 seconds of a slow push in, shots are fired.

Pull out

  • Gradually pulling out from the character/scene to reveal the surroundings
  • Usually shows loneliness and character isolation.
  • Can also be used to show detachment

Final shot from Catch me if you can, show Frank Abagnale is back, changes and blends into the world. Pull out starts at 1:20.

Zoom

  • Camera stands still, but the camera zoom's in and out
  • There is no equivalent in human movement. So zoom feels un-natural
  • Heavily used in horror films

Crash zoom

  • The same as a zoom, but a super fast version
  • Used to usually incite shock or comedy

Dolly Zoom

  • One of the more interesting and harder to pull off camera movements
  • The camera is moved away or towards the character and the camera zoom is used to zoom in the opposite direction
  • Causes a perspective distortion, which inturn causes a sense of unease in the viewer

Vertigo (director: Alfred hitchcock) was probably the first film to pull off the dolly zoom. Multiple shots, one starts at 1:20

Roll

  • The camera rolls over its side, causing a dizzying effect
  • Incites discomfort

The roll camera movement when Killmonger takes the throne from the film Black panther.

Tracking shot

  • The camera moves along with the subject
  • Acts like a POV, shows what the character sees
  • This shot type is very common and usually can be noticed in all modern films

Trucking shot

  • The same as tracking shot, but when the camera moves laterally along with the character
  • The same idea as tracking shot, but moves along with the character and establishes the scene and the environment

Arc Shot

  • The arc shot orbits the camera around a subject
  • Used to add energy and signify that a subject is at the centre of the scene

The party scene from dark knight when joker is talking, shot starts at 2:00.

Boom shot

  • The camera moves up or down, usually revealing information.
  • Also used to follow characters in action

Random movement

  • Camera moves in random, usually filmed through a hand held shot
  • It usually gives the scene a chaotic and documentary feel sometimes

The pitch scene from the big short

This is a really interesting topic. Maybe in the future I will take shots from great films and break them down into shots for learning!

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