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The Camera in Motion

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Film has the great advantage of width: its wider aspect ratio captures landscape images in a way your regular video camcorder can only dream about. (One of the advantages of shooting in HD is that it's always widescreen.) 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:

  1. Mount your camera on a tripod for best results, or hold it as steady as you can.
  2. Determine where the pan will begin and end.
  3. Begin recording at the first point, and pivot the camera left or right at an even pace. If your camera is not on a tripod, swivel your body steadily at the hips.
  4. 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 him (Figure 3.6).

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Frame your shots when panning so that subjects walk into the shot, not out the edges.

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