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Girl filming boy jumping off a bench in the garden with an iPad

Introduction to camera movement

Camera movement is one of the most powerful aspects of camera. It can be used to reveal information to the audience, pan across vast vistas or move closer to a character’s face, intensifying the emotion of a scene.

There are a variety of ways of moving the camera:

Tracking - The camera moves backwards, forwards or sideways along a track (also known as dolly or truck).

Panning - Camera moves left or right from a fixed point on a horizontal plane (similar to a person turning their head to look left or right)

Tilt – camera moves from a fixed point on a vertical plane (similar to a person raising their head to look up or lowering their head to look down)

Handheld – Camera is held by a moving camera operator. Can result in shaky footage

Steadicam – Camera, steadied by weights, is attached to a camera operator to produce a smoother shot than handheld

Crane – The camera is attached to a crane or jib to capture sweeping or extreme high angle shots.

Can you think of a scene where the camera movement contributes to the emotional impact of the scene on the audience?

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Teaching Literacy Through Film

The British Film Institute (BFI)

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