Camera Movement Techniques – Panning and Tilting 101

There are many simple techniques you can use to craft and enhance your video productions and sculpt your audience’s perceptions of your stories. Below we’ll provide some ideas on how you can effectively use panning and tilting in your next shoot.

Go ahead and move your head from left to right. Now move it from right to left. That’s panning, plain and simple. This technique is great for following a subject as it moves across the frame, or, you can use it to redirect the viewer’s attention to reveal new details.
Now move your head up and down, as if you are emphatically saying Yes. This is tilting. You can achieve a great deal with a simple tilt, including:

• Bringing the viewer into a scene
• Emphasizing the significance of a subject
• Revealing details in a scene
• Showing the vertical size of an object

Panning and Tilting in Practice

As panning and tilting motions are similar to how our necks move, feel free to use these techniques together in a production. You can craft a character’s point of view (POV) or make it appear as if the action is being observed by someone else.

Remember to consider the height of the camera when plotting your shots as this will determine the physical and psychological perspective from which the audience views your subject. For example, if your camera is at about eye level with your subject, when tilting up it looks like someone is looking at the subject’s shoes and then up to their face. When tilting down, it appears as if someone from a higher vantage point is looking downward and has suddenly discovered the subject. A few more things to remember when performing your pans and tilts:

• Very quick pans can be used as transitions between scenes. This is what we call “in-camera editing.”
• A slow pan or tilt allows the viewer to take in all the visual information in the scene.
• A fast pan or tilt, something typical from Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson films can disorient the viewer and jolt their attention to a new point of focus.

Smooth Moves

More often than not, we want our pans and tilts to be steady and fluid, unless, of course, the story calls for the camera to shake. In order to capture truly smooth movements, it is essential to properly set up and counterbalance the tripod. Be sure to fine tune the tension, so the tripod does the heavy lifting for you.

Benro Fluid Head

If you’re able to block out shots in advance, practice the movements several times before even rolling the camera, and adjust the tension accordingly. Generally speaking, you’ll want to set the tripod’s head with less tension for close or fast-moving subjects, and increase the tension for slow movements.

To sum up, you can achieve a great deal in your next video/film production by using the relatively simple techniques of panning and tilting. From guiding your viewer into a scene to crafting a unique transition between scenes, you can employ pans and tilts in a variety of ways to finesse your narrative.

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Camera Movement – Tripod or Monopod?

Unlike still photography, filmmaking is a medium defined by motion. Motion is the action within the frame—but it’s also the motion of the frame itself. Even a series of well-lit and well-composed shots can be perceived as a slideshow rather than a story in motion if the shots remain “stagnant.” Nowadays we’re so used to seeing camera movement in Hollywood films that we expect to see movement in all the videos we watch—even if we don’t know much about filmmaking.

Here’s the same scene shot handheld, with a monopod and on a tripod. The mid ground between these two extremes, is the monopod. It has a little bit of movement, which adds a layer of realism. It conveys a scene straight out of a reality TV show, perhaps.

On this article we discuss the primary tools for accomplishing camera movement—and when to use which.


When, and why would I use a monopod over a tripod? If I have to pack light, I’m working by myself, need to be very quick, I’m using a light camera system with a shotgun, and a little bit of movement is okay, I would choose a monopod.

To learn more, watch our new course Camera Movement for Video Production on


Same but different – Intro to Digital Cinema.

As a professional photographer, transitioning into the HDSLR Cinema world for the past 3 years has been a fascinating journey. I would like to share the five main similarities and five main differences I have encountered. Read through, I can guarantee it will save you some time.


• White balance. Think Jpg. You can tweak the White Balance in post, but you are very limited to what you can do. Instead of using Auto White Balance, set a specific color temperature (5200K for example), especially if shooting with more than one camera.

• Exposure is very critical. Pay special attention to the highlights. It is time to use again that good old Light Meter or get one specifically designed for HDSLR shooters like Sekonic’s L-308DC. Like White Balance, do your best to get it right on camera, not in post.

• Camera Settings. We are still using ISO, aperture, and shutter, but because of the frame rate, the shutter is not really a variable factor anymore. Now, we also need to add fps (frames per second), picture styles, and other interesting things to the mix.

• Composition. We go back to the basics. Rule of thirds, symmetry and patterns, texture, depth of field, viewpoint, and cropping. Luckily, that has not changed. If you have a good eye, you are good.

candle light image

• Lighting. All cameras are light-tight boxes that admit controlled light only through a lens. Just because we can push sensors to 25,000 ISO does not mean you are telling a story with light. You need to light.


• Lighting. Wait! Wasn’t this one of the similarities? Yes, it is also a big difference. Remember strobes? They turned into hot lights and continuous lights. Also, keep in mind that now the camera moves, and the light should work for several angles.