Camera movement techniques

Camera movement techniques

A Complete guide to camera movement techniques

When it comes to capturing the perfect video shot, camera movement techniques play a major role.

In this article, we’ll explore the different camera movements which can be used to create a dynamic visual experience for the viewer.

We’ll discuss how each movement can be utilized to create an engaging and visually stimulating story, as well as how these techniques can be used in innovative ways to bring a unique perspective to any project.

What Are Camera Movements?

Camera movements refer to the ways in which a camera physically moves during the filming of a scene. These movements can include tilting up or down, panning left or right, zooming in or out, tracking forwards or backwards, or even rotating around a fixed point.

Each type of camera movement can convey a different meaning or emotion to the viewer, and is often used strategically by filmmakers to create a specific effect or tell a particular story.

"Video is the most effective way to convey any message" Filip Blaho

Why Are Camera Movements Used?

Camera movements are an essential element of cinematography. They not only help to move the story along, but they can also be used to control reveals, focus, emotion and vision. Camera movements have become increasingly popular over the years as filmmakers strive to create unique and powerful visuals.

So why are camera movements so important?

To create a sense of movement, speed and energy in scenes. One of the main reasons is to create a more dynamic and engaging visual experience for the viewer. Static shots can sometimes feel stagnant or boring, so using camera movements can add movement and energy to a scene.

To add dimensionality to shots by allowing the camera to move around a space or object. This technique is often used to create a more immersive and three-dimensional feel to a scene, as well as to draw attention to specific elements or details within the frame.

To draw attention to key elements within a scene. For example, a zoom shot can be used to focus in on a specific object or person, drawing the viewer’s attention to that element. A tilt shot can be used to reveal an important element that was previously out of view, while a tracking shot can be used to follow a character or object as they move through a space.

To establish relationships between characters or objects in a scene. This technique can help to visually communicate the dynamics between characters or objects, as well as to create a sense of spatial awareness and context within the scene.

For example, a two-shot can be used to show two characters in the same frame, indicating that they are interacting or have a relationship with each other. A shot-reverse-shot technique can be used to show the perspective of two characters engaged in a conversation, highlighting their emotional and physical distance from each other.

Camera movements can also be used to convey specific emotions or moods. For example, a slow and smooth camera movement can create a sense of calm or relaxation, while a quick and shaky movement can convey chaos or urgency.

In addition, camera movements can be used to establish the geography of a scene or to highlight certain details or elements within the frame.

The 3 Main Types Of Shots

The three main types of shots are wide, medium and close-up shots. Each shot has a specific purpose and requires different camera movements to achieve the desired effect.

Wide shots

Wide shots provide context by showing the entire setting of a scene. This includes the environment, characters and their relationship to each other. To capture a wide shot, use a long lens or move the camera away from the action.

Medium shots

Medium shots give more detail than wide shots but still maintain a sense of context, allowing viewers to see body language and facial expressions with greater clarity. To capture a medium shot, use a mid-range lens or move closer to the action.

Close-up shots

Close-up shots emphasize a single character or object by filling the frame with it. To capture close-up shots, use an even longer lens or move even closer to your subject.

The combination of these three types of shots can create powerful visuals that help convey complex stories without dialogue or exposition.

Static Shots

Static shots are actually static so there is no movement involved. They can be used to evoke emotions, build tension and express character development. Remember the iconic shot in the final episode of Breaking Bad where Walter White stands atop his compound looking out over the desert. The static shot captures Walter’s narrative perfectly as he contemplates his past, present and future.

When shooting a static shot, it is essential to consider composition and framing.

Cinematographers need to think about how they want elements within the frame to interact with each other and consider how their chosen composition reflects the story they are trying to tell.

By understanding the different types of framing, filmmakers can create shots that draw the audience’s attention to a specific part of the frame or use objects within the frame to open up new perspectives.


Panning is a camera movement that is defined as the horizontal rotation of a camera on its vertical axis. Panning gives filmmakers an opportunity to add visual interest to their compositions, allowing them to capture moving subjects from different angles and perspectives. This can add energy and dynamism to sequences that would otherwise appear dull and flat.


Tilting is one of the most fundamental camera movements used in filmmaking. It involves moving the camera vertically up or down to achieve the desired angle for a shot. Tilting has an array of practical applications in cinematography, such as when a director wants to emphasize a character’s emotional state or when they want to transition between two different settings.

Pushing in

Pushing in is a camera movement that conveys a sense of urgency and immediacy. It is as if the audience is being pulled into the action in front of them, allowing them to feel closer to the characters and their emotions.

This technique has been used in films such as Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho”, where it heightens the suspense and tension by bringing the viewer deeper into the scene.

This movement can be achieved with a variety of tools, including a camera dolly, jib arm, or even simply by zooming into an image. The effect of pushing in can also be accentuated through careful lighting design and sound design.

For example, sharpening shadows creates an almost three-dimensional quality to the image while adding a sound cue such as footsteps can bring additional depth to the scene.

Pulling Out

Pulling out involves zooming back from a subject or scene to reveal more of it. This movement helps to create the illusion that the viewer is traveling away from the subject or towards the next shot. Additionally, it can be used to emphasize motion in a scene by indicating that something is moving away from or towards the camera.

The following are key points to consider when using pulling out technique:

  • Wide angle lenses will produce more pronounced effects than longer lenses when zooming out.
  • Speed and timing greatly affect how smooth or dynamic the transition appears.
  • Use optical zooms instead of digital zooms whenever possible.

Experiment with different angles and distances in order to find creative ways of using this technique that fit with their project’s overall aesthetic.


The transition from pulling out to zooming is a smooth one, and one that can present the audience with an entirely new perspective. Zooming has been described as ‘reaching into the scene’, and this figure of speech aptly describes the power of this camera movement.

Zooming brings about a heightened sense of immersion for the audience; it’s almost as if they have been transported directly into the scene itself.


Dollying involves linear tracking of the camera along a track. It can give the impression of an exploration or discovery by slowly revealing the environment. Moving the camera on rails also eliminates any unwanted shake associated with handheld shots and provides smooth, consistent motion.

The dolly systems are often used in conjunction with jibs or cranes for complex multi-axis shots.

Dollying has proven to be one of the most versatile tools in cinematography, allowing filmmakers to achieve dramatic effects on all levels of production budgets.

Dolly Zooming

Dolly Zooming is a camera movement technique which creates a sense of unease and tension in the audience. It is accomplished through a combination of simultaneously zooming in and out while tracking on a dolly.

This technique has been used to great effect in numerous films, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas.

Dolly zoom can heighten an audience’s emotional reaction to a scene by creating an atmosphere of suspense and anticipation. Its power comes from its ability to manipulate perspective in order to elicit certain responses from viewers without requiring any dialogue or special effects.

The dolly zoom can create several unique visual effects

  • It can emphasize the size difference between two people or objects
  • It can convey feelings of disorientation and confusion
  • It can make the background appear to be moving unpredictably.

Tracking shots

The tracking shot is a camera movement that symbolizes a journey, following the characters as they move through their environment. It allows the director to create a sense of immediacy and involvement with the scene and to create an immersive atmosphere for viewers, as if they were actually experiencing the events unfolding onscreen.

Tracking shots are often used to convey a sense of physical and emotional space between characters or elements in a scene. By visually linking them together, these shots can be effective at conveying tension, suspense or even humor. They can also be used to transition between scenes or locations without having to cut away from the action.


A pedestal shot is achieved by moving the camera vertically up or down on a fixed support to capture a scene from an elevated angle. This technique allows for an interesting perspective, to emphasize certain elements of the frame and to add emotion, depth, drama, and beauty to any production.

Pedestaling is usually used for:

Dramatic shots: Showing characters in dramatic scenes with an elevated angle gives them an added sense of gravitas.

Documentaries: To show people in their environment or to observe a subject from above.

Music video: To capture a wide landscape while emphasizing a certain element in the foreground.

Commercials: To create dynamic and engaging frames that draw viewers in and make them feel like they’re part of the action.

Narratives: The elevated angle works well to showcase characters’ reactions and emotions while they are interacting with each other and their surroundings.

Arc shots

Arc shots in video production are camera movements where the camera moves around the subject in a curved path. This type of shot is used to add dynamic movement and visual interest to a scene.

Arc shots can be achieved in a number of ways, including using a dolly or crane, or by simply moving the camera on a tripod. The camera can move in either a horizontal or vertical arc, and the speed and radius of the movement can be adjusted to achieve the desired effect.

Arc shots are commonly used in films and television shows to add drama, suspense, or tension to a scene. They can also be used to highlight a particular object or character, or to provide a sense of movement or progression.

Boom Shots

The technique involves suspending the camera on a boom arm above the scene, allowing for vertical or horizontal movement including up and down, side to side, and forward and backward. This provides filmmakers with the opportunity to capture multiple angles from the same location, giving them more control over their final product.

Boom shots are often used in filmmaking and video production to create a sense of scale or to provide an overhead view of a scene. They can also be used to reveal hidden details or to capture movement in a unique way.

Cranes and jibs are usually used to make boom shots.

Random Movements

Random movements are a powerful tool for engaging an audience. These movements can be used to create a sense of energy, tension, and emotion within a scene. From handheld shots to whip pans, random camera movements add visual interest and often convey a sense of urgency or excitement.

The best way to get random movements is to use:

Handheld shots: This technique allows the camera operator to move freely with the camera while shooting handheld.

Whip pans: A whip pan is when the camera is quickly moved from one side to the other while recording.

Tracking shots: This involves moving the camera along tracks or dollies while filming.

Steadicam shots: Steadicam shots involve using a stabilizing device that allows for smooth tracking movements without having to use tracks or dollies.

Rolling Camera Movements

A rolling camera movement is a technique used in filmmaking to add an extra dynamic to shots. It involves the camera moving along its axis, either horizontally or vertically to capture a particular image.

According to statistics, this particular movement has been used in over 70% of all films produced since the beginning of the 20th century. This indicates the overwhelming success that this technique has had with filmmakers and audiences alike.

One of the most important aspects of executing a successful rolling camera movement is finding a balance between speed and composition. Too slow of a speed can make shots feel stagnant while too fast can cause viewers to lose their focus on key elements within the scene.

Close Shots

A close shot is technique to capture subjects in a tighter frame. This shot is often utilized to emphasize emotion, convey intimacy, and provide the audience with an opportunity to better understand the inner thoughts of characters.

Close shots have become increasingly common in modern filmmaking; they are often used as establishing shots or transition scenes.

Close shots can be accomplished through two different camera movements: zooming and tracking.

Extreme Close Shots

Extreme close shots are a valuable tool for creating dramatic visuals in video production. It can also be used to draw attention to certain features or objects within a scene – such as a hand emerging from a doorway – or even used to create tension by focusing on an object that has been subtly placed within the frame.

Consider the framing when using extreme close shots. The subject should take up most of the frame, with little else visible other than what is relevant to the story. This helps ensure that your audience’s attention is focused solely on the subject being featured and creates an intimate connection between them and the character onscreen.

The use of soft lighting can help create an inviting atmosphere that draws viewers into the scene and allows them to fully engage with its characters. On the other hand, harsher lighting can be used to create an intimidating atmosphere or emphasize certain details within a shot.


An upshot is a camera movement that starts from below the subject or object and moves up. This type of shot can be used to create a sense of awe, as it emphasizes the magnitude of the subject or object.

It can also give the audience a feeling of rising tension, as if they are climbing a staircase in anticipation of what lies ahead.

The upshot is commonly used when filming animals or nature, as it can help to emphasize their size and power. It is also often used to reveal details in architecture, such as impressive skyline shots.

In addition, this type of shot can create an interesting transition from one scene to another.

Upshots are particularly effective when combined with other camera movements, such as tracking shots or panning shots.


Similar to upshots, downshots movement starts above the subject and moves down. The shot is often used to convey power, control, or perspective. Generally, downshots are used in situations where the director wants to emphasize the subject’s stature or importance.

They can be used to create an imposing sense of power dynamics, as well as provide an interesting perspective on a character’s environment. Downshots work great with cranes and dollies to emphasize the power dynamics of a scene.

Additionally, by manipulating lighting and composition techniques during a downshot, filmmakers can create shots that capture both emotion and information about a character’s environment.

Over The Shoulder Shots

These are great for capturing dialogue between two people, as they allow the audience to feel like they’re part of the conversation. The camera will be positioned behind one of the characters, so that their shoulder fills up most of the frame. This creates an intimate setting and gives the audience a sense of what each character is thinking and feeling.

To achieve this effect, consider using a subtle zoom-in or panning motion while transitioning from one shot to another to emphasize facial expressions and create tension. Additionally, adding slight camera shake can add further realism and provide visual interest during these transitions.

Two shots

The use of two shots in filmmaking is an art. It can be used to provide a frame by frame view of the narrative, allowing for maximum impact and emotional connection with the audience.

The technique of two-shots involves taking two camera angles that are typically close together and shooting them sequentially so they appear as one shot. This allows the viewer to see both characters’ expressions at the same time, creating a powerful effect in storytelling.

When using this technique, directors should ensure that each shot contributes to the story in some way. By having two different perspectives on the same scene, viewers will have a better understanding of what is happening and why it is happening.

Two-shots can also be used to create a sense of intimacy between characters or to show contrasts between them. As opposed to using one long take with both characters in the same frame, this method allows for more nuanced performances and reactions from each character.

Additionally, due to its ability to quickly cut between angles without disrupting continuity, two-shots are often employed during dialogue scenes where more than one character is speaking at once.

Handheld Shooting

Handheld shooting is a camera movement technique used by cinematographers to capture dynamic footage while they’re holding the camera in hands instead of a tripod or other mounting device.

Handheld shooting can be used to create an intimate, up-close feel for viewers and to add a sense of urgency and energy to the scene. The key with handheld shooting is finding the right balance between creating interesting camera movements and maintaining stability for sharp, clear images.

Achieving smooth motion requires practice and control, but there are several techniques that help improve results:

  • Make sure you keep your elbows close to your body while operating the camera. This will make it easier to maintain stability as you move around.
  • When shooting outdoors, use a shoulder rig or other stabilizing device when possible. These devices help reduce vibration caused by wind or uneven ground surfaces.
  • Practice moving slowly and smoothly when capturing footage with a handheld camera. Sudden movements can create jarring images that disrupt the viewing experience.

Floating Camera Shots

Floating camera shots involve the use of a specialized camera rig that gives the impression of the camera moving throughout a space without being physically supported by anyone or anything. It is this illusion of weightlessness that allows for particularly creative and dynamic visuals.

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Camera movement techniques can play a crucial role in creating captivating and visually engaging videos. Each technique has its unique advantages and can help you tell your story in a powerful way.

We hope that this blog post has provided you with useful information and insights into the different camera movement techniques available to you.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your video production project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

About author:
Filip Blaho

Filip Blaho is a digital marketing expert residing and traveling the Cascadia area. His love for media of all kinds led him to focus on the most important of all, VIDEO.

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