WHEN TO MOVE THE CAMERA DURING FILMMAKING: THERE ARE ONLY THREE REASONS
It’s of significant importance when making a film to do everything purposeful. And moving the camera is of equal matter. When moving the camera you must do so purposefully, intentionally! However, many filmmakers do not know when to and when not to move the camera. This is a detriment to their film or scene because camera movement when done correctly can convey, arouse, stimulate emotions to the viewer that are impossible to do so otherwise.
And when camera movement is done incorrectly it looks as it if was just done to be “cool.” That may be fine, but the time you want to use that same camera movement to convey a message or emotion it will come off as “cool” and that may not be what you wanted.
Camera movement, i.e., moving the camera, is part of the filmmaking language. And in every language you have eloquent speakers and you have dull ones. The filmmaker who moves the camera without purpose can certainly speak filmmaking, however, in a very dull manner. The filmmaker fluent in the filmmaking language only moves the camera purposefully.
Of the many reasons why filmmakers move the camera without purpose and intention is simply because they don’t know the whys and whens of moving the camera. If they would only ask themselves why they’re moving the camera, then they wouldn’t move it. The reason is because they don’t know why. They’re most likely doing it because it’s another camera option during post production, because it’s a camera setup they were taught in film school or because they saw it in a film, etc.
When you move the camera indiscriminately you limit your filmmaking lexicon. Move the camera with specific, discriminate and purposeful intentions, you expand it. To help you do so we’re summarizing and simplifying in three reasons when and why to move the camera to optimize your filmmaking language.
Without further ado:
Move the camera to reveal objects and/or subjects. For example: The camera moves to make a particular revelation. As is the case in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous jig/crane shot in his remarkable film, Notorious, starting Hollywood legends Cary grant and Ingrid Bergman.
This is when you move the camera in sync with your subject(s). The movement becomes natural and organic because it’s purposeful, with intent.
3)TO BUILD/DE-ESCALATE EMOTIONS
As far as building emotion, moving the camera towards your subject is of great use. Check out how it was ingeniously done by director Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather “I’ll kill the both” scene with Al Pacino.
Also, this same method done in reverse serves to de-escalate emotions.
In The Godfather an aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
The Godfather is also one of our Three Must See Films For All (Aspiring) Filmmakers.
The specific camera movement to use is at the filmmakers discretion. The filmmaker must choose from various camera movement methods to see which best conveys the movement intended. For example, is it best to use handheld movement or a tracking shot? These and other questions must be factored in when making your camera movement selection.
We do hope that as you go onward in your filmmaking career that When To Move The Camera: There’s Only 3 Reasons will be helpful.
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