Camera movement

Directors can achieve a lot of effects by carefully selecting shot sizes and camera angles, but moving the camera during filming can add even more meaning and emotion to a shot.

There are seven main types of camera movement:

Pans

In a panning shot, or pan, the camera is locked onto a tripod and the tripod is fixed in one spot.

The tripod head, which the camera rests on, is pivoted from left to right or right to left.

The effect is much like standing in one place and looking from side to side.

Panning is often used to follow action such as a character moving from one spot to another.

Panning shots can also be used to establish locations, slowly revealing information about a place as we take it in.

Tilts

A tilt is similar to a pan in that the camera is also fixed to a tripod.

However, instead of pivoting from left to right, the camera is tilted up or down.

Tilts can be used to follow action. If a character on screen was climbing a ladder, the director might use a low angled tilt to follow them as they move upwards.

Tilts can also be used to tell us a little bit more about a location than a single, static shot might.

Tracking shots

In a tracking shot the camera is placed on a moving platform or vehicle so that we can follow alongside the action.

A film crew filming a tracking shot using a camera dolly

Traditionally, a tracking shot was achieved by mounting the camera on a wheeled camera stand called a dolly and for that reason these shots are also sometimes called dolly shots.

Nowadays, tracking shots can also be achieved by using Steadicams.

A Steadicam is a self-balancing camera rig which is attached by a harness to the camera operator.

When a Steadicam operator moves, the camera moves with them creating a smooth gliding motion.