If you have to move, keep it smooth

You need to avoid jerk­i­ness at all costs, ei­ther with a per­fectly still cam­era, or with su­per-smooth move­ment

NPhoto - - Nikopedia -

When it comes to video, the key is: no jerky move­ments. Jerky videos are ex­tremely ir­ri­tat­ing to watch. Keep­ing ev­ery­thing still is a safe so­lu­tion, mean­ing the cam­era mo­tion­less on a tri­pod and no lens move­ments (so no zoom­ing or out). It runs some risk of be­ing bor­ing, but it is also a recog­nised style of film­ing that can have the virtue of be­ing calm­ing and decisive. At the start, you could do worse than use this as the de­fault set-up – a per­fectly still cam­era al­ways looks pro­fes­sional.

How­ever, video also ben­e­fits from the dy­namism of a mov­ing cam­era, which in the pro­fes­sional world means a fluid head for the tri­pod; slider, jib and dolly shots; and hand­held shots with a sta­biliser, even if it’s only a gim­bal head. The em­pha­sis is on smooth­ness, which usu­ally means some damp­ing at the be­gin­ning and end so that a move­ment gen­tly ac­cel­er­ates at the start, and fin­ishes with de­cel­er­a­tion.

A fluid tri­pod head pro­duces ex­actly this damp­ing ef­fect, mak­ing it one of the first in­vest­ments to make if you in­tend to move be­yond ba­sic video. A slider also of­fers good value for money, as a track­ing shot looks pro­fes­sional and can make al­most any static shot look good, but again, it has to be smooth.

If you’re still at a ba­sic level and don’t want to buy lots of equip­ment, one sim­ple and gen­er­ally ac­cept­able method for mov­ing the cam­era is to use your own body move­ment; with the cam­era strap fairly short and around your neck, push the cam­era for­ward at eye level and use the ten­sion on the strap to hold it firm. Twist your torso or lean for­ward or back­ward for smooth move­ment. Use a wide-an­gle lens to min­imise the ap­pear­ance of un­steadi­ness.

One ex­cep­tion to this is what’s called ‘sub­jec­tive cam­era’. In this style of shoot­ing, you hold your cam­era at eye level and present your own view to the au­di­ence. This works par­tic­u­larly well for walk-throughs, such as mov­ing along a cor­ri­dor. View­ers will ac­cept some jerk­i­ness if they feel that they are do­ing the walk­ing. This is one oc­ca­sion when, if the light lev­els vary sig­nif­i­cantly (as they’re likely to be­tween rooms, or if en­ter­ing a house), it makes sense to leave the ex­po­sure set­ting on Auto rather then the usu­ally rec­om­mended Man­ual.

Fi­nally, never use zoom. It will ir­ri­tate the au­di­ence, not least be­cause turn­ing the zoom ring smoothly is dif­fi­cult, and the start and fin­ish are likely to be jerky. If you do need to ‘zoom’ in or out, move smoothly with the cam­era, or shoot a se­quence of two or more video clips us­ing dif­fer­ent fo­cal lengths or hav­ing moved the cam­era in or out.

Tips for steady­ing the cam­era in­clude us­ing a wide-an­gle lens (here a 14mm is be­ing used with the 30p crop set­ting for max­i­mum qual­ity), a light­weight shoul­der rig, and push­ing the cam­era for­ward against the strap for ex­tra steady­ing ten­sion. Then sim­ply walk quite quickly, and as smoothly as pos­si­ble to track the sub­ject

Light­weight shoul­der rigs are fairly in­ex­pen­sive. Look for a shoul­der rig with a rail mount if you can af­ford one, as this will al­low you to at­tach other kit later on if you get re­ally into shoot­ing video. Use­ful add-ons in­clude a lens sup­port, a mon­i­tor and a fol­low fo­cus (for smooth fo­cus-pulling while shoot­ing)

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