Forget Expensive Dolly Tracks
I have learned through trial and error that getting creative film camera shots can be hard to achieve. Film style camera slides, Dollies and Crane shots can all add to the production value of your film or short form project but they can also add costs too. Forget about a crane over a certain height because even if you pull off a short 1 foot sideways lift with your $150 slider on its slide you still have several attempts to get that shot right provided you have time. I have practised this so many times and still it needs careful prepping to get what you envisaged. As for a professional crane system they can be very expensive to hire and sometimes you need to hire an operator too.
Here are a couple of tips to get some inexpensive but creative camera moves with your existing tripod.
1. Tripod Slider
It does not matter what kind of camera tripod you own. A few hundred dollars or just ten bucks, most will have 3 legs hence the name tripod. What you can do with those legs is use your tripod as a make shift slider in place of the expensive ones. I don’t always bring my slider with me on location but to fire off a few production value shots with my subjects I like to use 2 legs of my grip system only and with the third leg in one hand and the camera fluid head in my other, I slowly track in a few feet. I have got some really creative shots this way and if you are smooth enough it looks almost the same as a slide into the subject.
2. Crane shot on Tripod
Now this is a little more restrictive but equally creative if pulled off well. Firstly it won’t work if you have active movement in the shot. Example, people walking, cars, birds flying because all these are going to be in reverse when it comes to our post production! If you can pull this camera move off in a normal way by sliding the tripod and camera body plus lens’s etc upwards on the tripod legs you will get a lovely crane shot. However, it works best with a smooth release of the unit from a height and slowly guide the legs and unit down to the ground and in post production you can reverse the shot to look like a crane up shot.
The main thing to take away from this is that you need not spend a fortune on the best equipment to tell or sell your story. A Director once told me that without a story, point, plot or whatever then no amount of money thrown at your project will make it better.
Happy filming and if you would like more tips on film production and general post production experience, workflows then let me know at this blog.