Types of Camera Movement
When using the zoom feature, don't over do it! The zoom is nice when you can't get any closer to the subject. It is vey hard to hold your camcorder steady when you are zooming, even if you have electronic stabilization. Zooming in and out too frequently, may give your viewers a headache. If you are going to pan and zoom, pan on wide angle, then zoom in on your target. I suggest "pausing" the camcorder at the point of zoom, rather than zooming back out to wide angle.
Later, we will cover a little on making titles, but you have a lot of titles available "On Location". You can take pictures of freeway signs, "City Limits", signs etc. Use these "natural" signs as titles, for continuity with the surrounding area. Use camera angles if you like, and keep them to about 10 to 12 seconds in length.I suggest using your fade and zoom, sparingly. Use the fade control at the begining and end of your production, of course. The fade or wipes, if your camcorder has that feature, are traditionally used to convey the passage of time or location.
If, for example, you are leaving Australia and going to Bali, fade out, (or use a wipe) on a scene in Australia, and fade in, (or use the same wipe) on your first shot in Bali. If you use a fade on a castle, for example, and then fade in on a different view of the same castle, you will give your viewer the impression that it is a different castle at a new location.
Before you do a pan shot, make sure your feet, hips and shoulders can swing smoothly through the entire shot!
Usually the "zoom-in" is used to emphasize an intimate or emotional moment, or to highlight an important element or detail in a wider shot. As a programme maker, with the zoom-in you can dictate where your audience's attention should be focused.
Likewise, with the "zoom-out" you can initially pick out a detail in a scene--perhaps the face of a person shouting--and then widen the shot to show that the person is part of a huge crowd. You can use zoom-out shots to disclose information that is not evident at the start of the shot so that the audience can gradually begin to understand what is happening in the scene and why.
As with panning and tilting, it is always good to hold your shot for at least three seconds before and after either your zoom-in or zoom-out, again to give your audience time to register the scene you are filming before the camcorder moves.
But too may zoom shots in succession are very difficult to watch. Again you will be in danger of making your audience seasick from watching your programme. It's better to use the zoom before you start filming to make sure you have your framing as you need it rather than during your shots.
Try to avoid using the zoom for cutaway shots. Cutaway shots are detailed shots of the same subject but from another angle. An editor uses them in cutting a piece together to give the viewer more visual information. However, standing far away from the subject and zooming in or out for detailed close-up shots will amplify any slight camera shake that may be occurring and make the image very difficult to watch. If you want to film a subject close up, it is better to move nearer to it if you can, to limit camera shake, rather than to stand quite a distance away and zoom in to create a closer shot. You can do these detailed cutaway shots afterward far more easily.
Summary of zoom tips:
- zoom in for detail
- zoom out for context your upper body to move
- move nearer to subject for close-ups and tilts
- use zooms rarely
Types of Shot - Wide Shot
As much of what you shoot will include people, it is a good idea to become familiar with the five standard types of shot size which will be the most comfortable for your viewers. The first is a "wide shot" or "establisher" as it is sometimes called.
This type of shot gives the audience an awareness of the scale and space of an idea or an idea where they are before you begin to pick put the detail. If two people are sitting in a room talking to each other, your wide shot will establish the two of them in the frame together in order to show their position in relation to each other before you begin to film them closer in frame.
Types of Shot - Long Shot
The second type of shot is a "long shot". This type of shot shows a person from head to toe. Be careful with headroom here. Too much space above a person's head in the frame will look strange as will too much space between the person's feet and the bottom of the frame.
Types of Shot - Mid Shot
The third type of shot is a "mid shot". This type of shot shows your subject from the position from just below waist level to just above the top of their head. This type of shot can be used for formal interviews.
It gives the viewer a sense of a respectful distance from the subject while still making the subject the prominent figure in the image.
Types of Shot - Close-Up
The fourth type of a shot is a "close-up", and can be used to draw the viewer nearer to the action or the words that are being said. This type of shot shows your subject from mid-chest to almost the top of their head and is ideal for most interviews. The last type of shot is the "tight close-up" which can be used for the more intimate moments of an interview. This shot cuts through the top of the person's head and also part of their chin. Remember, it is better to lose more of the person's head room than it is to lose much of their chin from the frame.
A tight close-up can also be used to pick out detail within a scene. By using it you are telling your audience what they should be looking at for focusing their attention upon. A good combination of all these shots allows the editor to effectively cut a scene or story together.
Rule of Thirds
A good guideline to follow for framing interesting, well-composed pictures is the "rule of thirds". Imagine vertical and horizontal lines dividing your picture equally into thirds. Try and frame your picture in terms of these thirds. For example, frame your picture with the horizon running along one of the imaginary horizontal lines. Or compose your shot with a person standing against one of the vertical lines. You may also consider placing subjects at the points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect. This is far more interesting for the eye.
Don't place subjects right in the middle of the frame simply because they are important. It's far better to have the horizon either two-thirds from the top of the frame or two-thirds from the bottom. And if you are filming someone standing in front of a wider scene it's good to have them standing slightly to the left or to the right of the frame.
Just as with interviews, if people are walking in your shot and you are following them as they move, try to make sure that you leave enough space for them to walk to. If they are walking from right to left, you should shoot them more to the right of the frame so that they have space on the left to walk into. Without that space they will look as if they are filming interviews, too much headroom will look strange. Instead tilt down slightly and you will get a far more natural shot when there is only a small amount of space between the top of their head and the top of the frame.
Summary of composition tips:
- frame shots properly
- use rule of thirds
- interviewees should look into the frame
- shoot interviews at eye level
- action should move into frame
If you are moving sideways, or crabbing as it is sometimes called, try to lift your feet in a slow motion glide with your knees bent crossing your legs behind or on front of you, letting one foot rest firmly on the ground before you move the other.
You can use a vehicle, trolly or even a wheelchair or office chair to get smooth moving shots. If you are sitting in something, use the arm rests or your knees to steady the camcorder.
It is more difficult to keep your shot steady when you're moving, but even if you are walking or want a moving shot, it is very easy to minimize camera shake.
If you are walking forward, keep your legs bent and your body lowered all the time. This will help you avoid the rise and fall of normal walking. Concentrate on making a slow motion gliding feeling. Put one foot down softly before the next, keeping them close to the ground.
You can do exactly the same when you are walking backwards, but it is a good idea to have someone walking behind you so they can clear the way for you.
- keep knees bent
- move feet slowly in a gliding manner
- use wheeled vehicles for tracking
- support the camera when moving