Basic Camera Techniques and Movements

The camera angles in a film are one of the essential rules you need to know about filmmaking. Whatever field you’ll take on the film and television industry, whether it’s producing, directing, acting, scriptwriting, etc. Every filmmaker needs to learn the technical terms of any type of shot.

Why is it so important?
First of all, it will help you to develop your camera techniques.  But more importantly:
this is the way all the film casts communicate. It will save you a lot of time (and embarrassments) to know them.

 “There is only you and your
The limitations in your
Photography in your self, for
what we see what we are.”                                                                                                   Ernes Hass

Important rules you must know:

180-degree rule

This is a rule you will hear lots of your crew members talk about in film production.
Here’s the deal:
The rule helps you not to mess up the direction of characters in the film while they are relating to each other. For example, if you have a scene with two characters talking to each other, not following this rule, it might make them look like they are talking to themselves.

So what’s, is the 180 rule?

The 180-degree rule is an imaginary line that connects between the two (or more) characters in the scene. The camera has to stay on the same side of the track during the whole scene. Crossing the line will mess up the direction the characters are looking at.

Click here to watch illustrates of the 180 rule

30-degree rule

Make your video editor’s life easier by moving your camera angle at least 30 degrees between each shot of the same subject being shot. For example, if you are shooting a car and you want to shoot it from a different angle, you should make sure your next camera angle will move for at least 30 degrees from the previous shot. Otherwise, a “Jump Cut” will appearA jump cut is when two shots don’t attach smoothly.

Click here to watch illustrates of the 30 rule

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Use Camera movements to built emotion 

Some camera movements can make the atmosphere in the film a lot stronger. The camera movement is critical to set the emotion of the scene, and it something you’ll have to practice a lot. A wrong camera movement can ruin the scene atmosphere. You have to be careful not to use them too much as many beginner directors tend to do, as it might make the audience lose focus. Use them only when it’s necessary for the scene. Remember! A good camera work doesn’t call attention from the audience.

If you decide to go on the camera movement, I would recommend shooting the same shot in a static camera, just to be safe. Sometimes a movement shot will look great in your head, but in the editing room, it won’t feet, and then you’ll be lucky to have the static take too.

As an exercise, I would advise you to shoot a scene with all the movements I’m going to introduce you now and then reshoot the same scene with static cameras and see what kind of scene you are getting each time.

Zooming In & Zooming Out

It is a process in which the cameraman changes the lens length from long (Wide Angle) to close-up. This movement tells the viewer that what is happening now is essential. Usually, we use it when the character becomes emotional or to highlight what is being said.


Same as Zoom In but inverted

Point of View

The camera transmits the point of view of an object in the scene. It takes the place of looking. If we are filming two people talking and we want to pass the point of view of one over the other, the camera will be in front of the photographed object in the place of the one we want to emulate his eyes. Usually, the photographed object will not look directly into the camera, but 30 degrees to the side. If the object looks directly into the camera, it’s like he is looking directly at the audience and thus breaks the magic of cinema. Of course, there are quite a few films that do this on purpose, but this should be a conscious decision.

read about more camera angles here

Pan Left \ Right

While the camera is sitting on a tripod, we set in motion its lens to the left or right. It means that the camera is scanning the scene horizontally. If you nod your head left and right, you will see how pan left, and pan right looks like. If the director wants to see more of the right, he will ask the cameraman to Pan Right. These movements often are done relatively slowly unless doing what is called:
“Swish Pan,” which is a high-speed pan that creates a blurred background. This camera movement also excellent to immolate point of view

Tilt-Up, Down

While the camera is stable on a tripod, move the lens up or down, so the camera is scaring the scene vertically.  If you nod your head up and down, you will see how tilt up and down looks like. If the director wants to see more of below the frame, he will tell the cameraman to tilt down.
Usually, we use it to show the size and power of a person or an object in relation to the viewer, So the viewer feels as if he is looking up. The same thing when you want to emphasize the lack of power Tilt down will show the bottom part of a photographed object. This camera movement also excellent to immolate point of view

Here is a scene from one of the funniest films I know- the movie Top Secret – from the masters of parody- Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker– to show you a small Til up

Click here for an illustration that describe it the best

Enhance your camera movements 

The movement we saw up to now is effortless, but there is a way to make them look much more powerful. The Dolly is kind of a cart that you put on tracks and put the camera on it, and it creates smooth motion. It makes the viewer less passive while watching and feel more active.

Dolly In/Out

Also known as” Dolly Zoom.” Dolly In means to get closer to the object and Dolly Out means to get away from it. It is quite similar to Zoom In and Out, but there is a big difference:
On a Dolly shot, the ratio of the photographed object and its environment will remain the same so that the visual effect will be a lot stronger in the “Dolly shot.” The way to do this is by pulling
 the camera backward or pushing it forward while pulling the zoom on the lens in the opposite direction. It will always look better then zoom in because zoom in calls for more attention from the audience, while the dolly is more subtle. 

Track Left/Right

Move the camera on the dolly to the right or the left. This kind of movement is useful to create at the viewer a feeling of more activeness.

Make your movement look professional

Your camera movements must be smooth and substantial to the story. Otherwise, they will attract too much attention, and it will interrupt the viewer to Be “sucked” into the atmosphere of the film. The viewer might also be aware of the fact that he is watching a movie, and once that happens, you lose him.

Therefore, it is essential to practice as much as possible on these camera movements.

Your homework for today is to start paying attention to the camera angles and movement in the films and tv shows you are watching. Try also to take it a step forward and understand what the emotion the director is trying to set with these angels is.

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