Film has the great advantage of width: its wider aspect ratio captures landscape images in a way your video camcorder can only dream about. However, you can pivot the camera left or right to shoot that landscape and not disrupt the scene with too much motion. This side-to-side movement is called panning, and is a common tool in a director's box of shots. A similar shot, tilting, moves the camera up and down, though it's not used as frequently.
To pan a scene
- Set your camera up on a tripod for best results, or hold it as steady as you can.
- Determine where the pan will begin and end.
- Begin recording at the first point, and pivot the camera left or right at an even pace. If your camera is not mounted on a tripod, swivel your body steadily at the hips.
- When you reach the end point of your pan, stop recording.
Pan ahead of subjects
A panning shot often follows a subject from one side of the screen to the other, but think of your composition as you do this. Don't just center the subject in the frame. Instead, provide space into which the person can walk by panning ahead of her ( Figure 3.6 ).
Figure 3.6 Frame your shots so that subjects walk into the shot when panning, not out the edges.