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Camera Movements

Camera movements, zooms and focus pulls are used like commas, semi-colons, colons, dashes or brackets within the audiovisual sentence. These defined, predetermined movements are used to reveal new information within the individual shot (the core audiovisual sentence).

They are also used to change the dramatic arrangement of characters (e.g. moving from an inferior low level to a superior high level) or to reveal new aspects of the setting or dramatic situation.

  • Pan – here the camera swivels smoothly on the tripod head
  • Tilt – here the camera is tilted up or down on the tripod head or other camera gripping equipment
  • Dolly – here the camera and support is moved along some form of track to follow the action
  • Tracking – here the camera follows the characters (this can be done hand-held for a documentary feel or using a sling or steadicam)
  • Crane – here the camera is moved through the air using a crane, jib or aerial track
  • Push in / Pull back – here the camera is pushed towards the action or pulled back (whether manually or digitally) often to subtly suggest an increasing affinity or dislike for a character as a clip or scene progresses
  • Zoom in or Zoom out – here the camera lens zooms in or out to change our spatial and emotional relationship to the scene and the characters
  • Pull back and Zoom in or Push in and Zoom out – this combination of movement of the camera and the lens can create an oddly disorientating sensation and is most often used to accompany moments of terrible recognition
  • Focus – Filmmakers often keep areas in an image deliberately in or out of focus to help control the audience's relative interest in different areas of the field of view:
    • Deep Focus is where much of the filed of view is in focus, this is often used to help underline the characters relationship to his or her surroundings
    • Shallow Focus is where only a small area of the image is in focus at any one time, this is used to focus the audience's attention on one character, a detail in the field of view or to suggest a character is caught up in their own thoughts
  • Pull Focus - here the cinematographer adjusts focus between two or sometimes three characters or areas of interest within the field of vision to literally refocus the audience’s attention on different aspects of the action, or to suggest changing audience sympathies with the characters shown.