Diving into video can confound even experienced still shooters; here are 12 tips to help you make the transition with ease
Move a mounted camera.
The Varavon Slidecam Lite ($330, street) uses steel roller bearings to smooth out tracking shots.
Pan and tilt shots are typically done while the camera is on a tripod (“on sticks” in videospeak). Panning involves rotating it from side to side; tilting goes up and down. The speed at which you do this can make a big difference: A slow pan can build suspense, while a quick move can surprise the viewer.But move too quickly and the shot can become uncomfortable to watch. Tracking shots involve moving the entire camera either forward and backward or from side to side. For the smoothest motion, use a slider, a set of rails along which the camera can glide.
“Moving the camera can add interest to a scene, especially if everything in the frame is static,” says Atlanta-based wedding shooter Todd Reichman. “And when you move the camera, you should always try to reveal something interesting, rather than hiding it.”
If you’re not on a slider or tripod, a shoulder rig like the Shape Cameleon I Camera Support ($480, street) can help keep things steady when you’re recording on the move.
Pick a frame rate.
Your camera most likely offers at least three frame rates: The classic 24 frames per second will give your footage a cinematic air, 30 fps will look like broadcast TV, and 60 fps can be viewed at normal speed or switched to half-speed for slow motion. The faster the frame rate, the slower you can play your video without introducing jitters.
Many shooters prefer 24 fps for its look, and fewer frames also means smaller file sizes and quicker rendering while editing. Try both 24 and 30 fps, then pick one and stick with it for each project. Switching can get ugly—visually, and in editing.
Work your zoom.
While many big-time video shooters prefer prime lenses, zooms offer more versatility, letting you move quickly from a tight to a wide shot. It also allows some dramatic visual tricks.
For instance, try walking toward your subject while zooming wider—as you move to a shorter focal length, the background will look as if it’s retreating while the subject stays relatively stationary.