Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


3 Steps to Getting Smooth Shots

Amateur/beginning filmmakers often have extremely shaky shots. The camera is bouncing all over the place even when they are standing still... but especially while walking.

Here are three tricks to get more fluid shots when you're not using a tripod:

1. Don't zoom. For the first several months of shooting (and perhaps for your entire filmmaking career) forget that you have a zoom button. Pull the zoom as far out as possible, and never touch it again.

By zooming in, you basically turn your zoom length into a lever and any little motion is amplified tremendously. And if Archimedes could move the earth with a lever, you'd better believe your shot is going to move if you turn your camera into one. It's much better just to move closer to your subject.

Don't Zoom: The Lever Effect

2. Hug your camera. I know you love your camera, so don't keep it at arm's length. Rather, keep it near your body, and prop your elbow against your side. Much like the lesson in levers from point 1, keeping your camera close--and letting your body absorb some of the shaking--will dramatically improve your shots.

Hug Your Camera: The Human Steady Cam

3. Roll with it. If you've been in marching band, you know how to do this. You want to take small, even steps, starting with your heal and rolling onto the ball of your foot. Heal to toe. Nice and easy.

Don't tip-toe with your camera. That's like walking on stilts and trying to get a nice smooth shot.

Roll with It: Heal to Toe

Bonus: Use a tripod. I know they can be annoying, but it's probably a good idea to slow down your shooting and think about your shots a tad more anyway. Re-setting up your tripod for each shot can keep you thinking about how to get a better picture than merely wandering around with your camera.

So there you have it: 3 tips to getting smoother shots. And you got a quick practical application for your physics course at the same time.

You're welcome.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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