Moving Your Camera

There are some basic camera movements which imitate the way that we move our head and eyes to look over a stationary object or to follow some action from a static position. These are “panning” or moving the camcorder from right to left or left to right, like looking from side to side, and “tilting” or moving the camcorder up or down like looking to the sky and then to the ground.

Camera movements are ideal when you cannot include the whole of the subject in one single static shot such as a huge crowd of people or a very tall object such as a tree or building. They are also essential for covering action sequences such as people marching down a street and can be important for showing connections or contrast between subjects in a single shot such as someone giving a speech and then moving round to show the crowd watching.


Panning means moving the camera from a fixed point in an horizontal arc sideways. Try to hold the shot for about 3 seconds both before and after the pan. Holding the shot helps the viewer establish what he or she is supposed to be looking at before the move begins. When you pan, SLOWLY pivot around keeping the movement at a constant speed. If you move too fast or do not hold the shot at the start and at the finish, the image may be blurred and your audience will not be able to take in the information that you are trying to convey.


Tilting means moving the camcorder from a fixed point in a vertical arc up and down. Just like when you are panning, hold a static shot at the beginning and at the end of the tilt for about 3 seconds so that your audience can register what they are looking at before the camcorder moves. A good guideline in terms of speed for both pans and tilts is to allow approximately 5 seconds for an object to pass from one side of the screen to the other.

When you are either panning or tilting, try not to move too far. A natural arc of about 90 degrees is normally all you need. Remember to keep your feet firmly in position, with all the movement coming from your upper body. Also, it’s very easy to over-use these types of camera movements and end up giving your audience sea-sickness from watching too many of these shots in succession.


Above all, avoid “hose-piping ” continually panning and tilting across a subject in an effort to cover it all. It’s much better to break the subject up into more than one shot.

– Hold shots for 3 seconds before and after pans and tilts

– Keep feet stable using your upper body to move

– Avoid excessive pans and tilts

– Do not stop recording during pans and tilts

– Never “hose-pipe” over subject

What Next? Zoom and Focus

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