movements of camera in the cinema

The image, more than the dialogues or the music, is the essence of the cinema and of the film. Above all, it is through the image that the developer needs to “speak” and communicate with the viewer. But the image in the cinema is, most of the time, not static. If many plans do not require camera movements, it nevertheless remains a powerful tool for the filmmaker who wishes to convey a message or create a particular emotion.

With the camera movements, we enter in the heart of the matter, it affects the image of cinema. The frame and the composition, even the scale of the plans are so many techniques borrowed from other arts such as photography or painting. But the camera movements are specific to the cinema (Although some pieces of theatre are not afraid to use a screen to stream video, or capture close-up acting, which makes it even more fuzzy the distinction between the two arts, but that is another topic…). The cinema is the only art to be able to express a palette as rich of movements : those of the actors, objects but also and especially those of the framework.

The camera movements being a unique asset for filmmakers, it is very rare to see a film composed entirely of still shots. It is up to the filmmaker to know when is it that he chose to use a camera movement rather than another or rather than a fixed plan. For a dialog, the fixed plans are the most common, but many, and sometimes wonderful exceptions to the rule exist. On the other hand, for a chase, it may be advisable to use several movements.

We selected 5 types of camera movements that every filmmaker should know, that this is to follow the movement of a character, to discover a place gradually, or any other idea that he would have in mind.

– Plan sequence

– Travelling

– Fixed Plan

– Panoramic horizontal and vertical

– Camera, VDP and Steadycam

That is to say : The zoom is a change of the focal length to vary the scale of a plan, it is not, therefore, strictly speaking, a movement of the camera.

To go further

There are books dedicated to camera movements and their utility for their producer. If you want to develop your knowledge on the subject, you can purchase the book “Movements of actors and cameras.“

Keywords: camera movement in the cinema

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