There are definite and clear-cut rules and methods
for panning. The very first is PAN ONLY WHEN
PANNING IS NECESSARY. Panning a camera without
a valid reason produces images that only irritate the
Making professional-quality pans takes practice
and experience; however, you can easily gain this skill.
One of the first and most important points to remember
is to pan slowly and smoothly. Panning appears faster
on the screen than it actually is; therefore, camera pans
must be slow and consistent while maintaining a
smooth, steady panning motion. When panning a
moving object, you must keep pace with the object and
allow for subject lead room. Panning too fast may make
the viewer dizzy; therefore, it is advisable not to position
the camera too close to the subject. The farther the
subject is from the camera, the slower the pan required
to follow the subject at a given speed.
Throughout the entire pan, the camera must be level
without up and down wobbling. Whenever possible,
rehearse the pan before you actually shoot. Know
exactly where and when you want to start and end the
pan. Practice the pan several times without recording on
tape. Make the pan shot only after you can do it smoothly
and accurately. The smoothest and best pans are made
with the use of a tripod or other suitable camera support.
Good handheld pans are always difficult to achieve.
Before you pan with a tripod, be sure the camera is
absolutely level. Check the camera for level throughout
the entire arc of the pan with a spirit bubble level located
on top of the tripod head.
To produce better pan shots, position yourself
comfortably for the end of the pan. Then, keeping your
feet in this position, wind yourself around to the start
pan position. As the pan progresses, "unwind" into the
most comfortable position for a smooth stop. When
using a tripod, be careful not to bump into the tripod as
you are shooting.
Tilting the Camera
Moving a camera up and down vertically is called
tilting. Tilting is useful when you want to photograph
tall structures in one shot or to follow action, such as a
Most of the rules that apply to horizontal panning
apply equally well to tilting. As with horizontal panning,
tilting should be used only when stationary shots cannot
accomplish the desired effect.
A tilt should be made slowly and smoothly. Know
where and when you want to start and end the tilt.
Usually, you start and end a tilt with a stationary shot.
To photograph a tall building or object, you should
normally start the tilt at the bottom and move up. This
is the way people naturally look at tall objects. There
may be times, however, when you may start a tilt at the
top and move down; for example, you might show
flames coming out from the top-floor windows of a
skyscraper, then tilt down to show the fire trucks
arriving. When you are following action with a tilt, the
type of action determines the direction of tilt. Also, as
with a horizontal pan, you should show enough of the
surrounding area so the audience can associate the
subject with its location.
One of the great advantages of motion media is that
it involves the viewers in the action. Viewers feel that
they are there and participating in whatever is happening
on the screen. They can be made to feel that they are
moving along with the action as it develops, they
become even more involved. Changes in the camera
angle permit the viewers to see the same subject from
several different positions, as though they were moving
within the scene. This adds variety and makes the
images they see more interesting because something is
a little different about each one. However, be careful to
keep these camera-angle changes from confusing the
viewers. If the changes are so different that they seem
to be in other locations, the viewers lose their
orientation. When choosing the camera angle, be sure
you present the subject from the best possible vantage
point and create the proper psychological effect.
When you can control the angle at which the action
passes across the camera lens axis, your shots will show
the apparent speeding up or slowing down action.
Objects moving at right angles to the lens (across the
lens axis) appear to be moving faster than objects
approaching the lens directly or going straight away
from it. You can vary the apparent speed of objects by
selecting various camera angles.
Good motion-media footage needs movement.
Movement can take place in front of the camera, of the
camera itself, and of course in the picture itself. The