15 Best Camera Movements Content Creators Need To Start Using

Highlight: Even if you want to convey a sense of chaos and confusion in a handheld shot, it’s best to plan ahead of time.

Selecting and employing the appropriate camera movements in your videos is a skill that will improve and elevate your filmmaking. The way you introduce your scenes, reveal your subjects, and follow them throughout the storey will help you connect with your audience. Here are the key camera movements you’ll need to know to do just that.

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15 Best Camera Movements Content Creators Need To Start Using

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Static shot

Although we are discussing camera movements, knowing when to shoot a static shot is critical to your filmmaking. Static shots, in which the camera is fixed in place, bring an intensity of focus to your scenes, allowing your audience to focus entirely on what you’re saying. Obviously, you don’t want to overuse static shots, but you also don’t want to ignore them.

Pan Shot

A pan shot occurs when your camera is anchored in place, such as on a video tripod, but sweeps horizontally across your scene, typically from left to right. This type of shot can either follow a character through a scene or introduce the audience to the scene itself. 

A whip or swish pan is the same movement (the camera on a tripod), but much faster, swinging from left to right or right to left. It will add motion blur to the shot, creating the illusion of speed or disorientation.

Tilt Shot

A tilt shot is when you place your camera on a tripod and sweep it either upwards or downwards. Imagine standing at the base of a skyscraper and slowly rolling your head up to the top – that’s the human motion equivalent to this camera movement. It works well in scenes that evoke awe or wonder, or that gradually reveal someone or something tall.

Zoom shot

A zoom shot is not strictly a camera movement because the camera does not move, but it creates the illusion of movement. It occurs when you gradually shift the focal length of your lens, moving closer to (zooming in) or further away from (zooming out) your subject.

Tracking shot

Tracking shots can take many different forms, as we’ll see, but the idea is that they include movement in your scene. They are dynamic and versatile, presenting the viewer with a variety of perspectives and emotions. You can use them to track a subject or to reveal an entire scene.

Dolly shot

A dolly shot is a steady movement deeper into or out of your scene. Typically, your camera will be attached to tracks or rails to ensure smooth motion, but you can get creative and use props such as skateboards to achieve the same effect.

A push-in moves the camera closer to the subject, usually increasing the viewer’s focus, whereas a pull-out moves the camera away from the subject. This can lead to a reveal, create a sense of isolation or contemplation, or simply allow your audience to take a breath.

Dolly zoom is when you push into a scene while zooming out or the inverse (so, pulling out and zooming in). This is an unusual camera movement that is frequently used in sci-fi and fantasy films to suggest a supernatural force, but it could also be used in scenes involving hallucinations, disorientation, or sickness.

Truck shot

A truck shot is a lateral motion tracking shot. A truck shot moves left or right, whereas a dolly shot moves forward or backward.

Steadicam shots

Tracking shots from a Steadicam, also known as floating cam or stabilized shots, have a much greater motion range than dolly or truck shots. Because the camera is attached to the camera operator, it can move around the scene in real-time.

Boom or pedestal shot

The entire camera is raised or lowered in relation to the subject in a pedestal or boom shot. A pedestal shot is similar to sitting in an office chair and adjusting it up or down against a computer monitor.

A pedestal shot differs from a tilt shot in that the entire camera moves vertically rather than pivoting around a fixed point.

Arc shot

An arc shot revolves the camera around the subject in a semi-circle while the subject remains stationary. An arc shot’s encircling motion can add a sense of menace to a scene, as if the camera is stalking the subject.

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Camera roll shot

A camera roll shot is a dizzying motion that you should avoid using too frequently. By rotating your camera over its long axis, you create a camera movement that is intended to disorient the viewer and create a sense of uneasiness. It is extremely effective, but should not be used excessively.

Jib or crane shot

When you lift a camera onto a crane or jib, you can use almost any of the camera movements we’ve discussed, such as pan, truck, tilt, or dolly, but from a higher vantage point. They offer excellent overview shots that can be thrilling.

Aerial shot

Aerial shots are ideal for giving your audience a bird’s-eye view of a scene. Drones have made this type of filming much more affordable, as it no longer requires a helicopter. However, shooting with drones has many limitations, particularly in urban areas. Read this DJI article to learn how to best prepare before flying your drone.

Rack focus shot

This, like zooming, isn’t strictly a camera movement, but it gives your audience the impression of movement. When you rack or pull focus, you change the focus point in your scene without having to cut away.

Perhaps you switch from focusing on one character speaking to another. Alternatively, you could shift the focus from a person to an object to emphasise a point or aid in the storytelling.

Random and handheld shot

Random and handheld camera movements can give a scene a sense of urgency or confusion. They come in handy, especially in assault and combat scenes. Their jerkiness and unpredictability will unnerve your audience, but they will also be immersed in the moment. Again, don’t overuse them, but keep in mind how powerful they can be.

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The ideal place to flex your creative muscles and experiment, from smooth and polished to controlled confusion, is when you adjust your camera movements.

So, grab your camera and start experimenting today!

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

15 Best Camera Movements Content Creators Need To Start Using

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