Moving the Camera

Taught by Ben Allan ACS

Course Number:
Software Version:
Original Run Date:
October 2013 
6 hours 5 minutes 
Nothing adds production value like a moving camera shot. Depending on which country you are in, on set, the Grip Department is solely responsible for moving the camera. The aim of this course is to discuss both the theory of composition, framing and blocking, and the tech of modern gripping. The course will include new innovations such as Movi and Steadicam as well as more traditional mounts such as cranes and dollies. This course dovetails nicely with Ben Allan's earlier lighting course DOP 217, as lighting and framing are two of the most important parts of the DOP's tool kit for telling stories.

Ben Allan and Mike Seymour will each week work through a variety of drama, documentary and even interview situations showing how you can add production value and better tell your story. The course will cover lower budget DSLR rigs up such as car mounts to expensive professional Grip trucks using expensive feature film state of the Art cameras. At the end of the course you should feel much more confident in moving the camera, and using the latest gear to achieve professional results. The course will also cover image stablizers, optical flow and auto-correcting lens tech as we move images into post-production.
Moving the Camera
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1

Introduction and approaches. We film a standard green screen tracking shot three different ways comparing the ways you might use a jib arm or a Steadicam to get a good looking green screen key for a promo or drama shot. This class focuses on inexpensive jib and and Steadicam work.

Class 2

Feature and indie interview techniques. This week we start with standard interviewing approaches and add levels of production value to improve the shot and make the final result more engaging. Plus, as we will do this term, Mike devises another of his annoyingly complex problems for Ben to solve. Film making is all about creative problem solving and this week it is filming a two-shot with almost a foot height difference between the interviewer and interviewee. This class mainly focuses on tripod and slider work.

Class 3

Using a dolly to acquire a similar shot to the one scene in Class 1 where a jib arm and Steadicam had been used.

Class 4

Using a dolly for other kinds of shots, including in classic drama pieces. We look at placing the dolly on tracks. Plus we show how an inexpensive low-mode rig can give you Steadicam-like shots.

Class 5

Movi and mobile. The hottest product in gripping is the Movi. It is a revolutionary device from a great company. We look at the full professional model as well as a complete DIY solution. We weigh up the advantages of the professional engineered solution and see just how viable the home brew version is with parts custom made in China and software from Eastern Europe. This class focuses on cutting edge light weight gyro stabilizers.

Class 6

Steadicam. Designing shots that work for Steadicam. The Steadicam is a great tool but it is better with certain approaches and shots should be designed that take advantage of the systems grace while avoiding using it for shots better done more traditionally. We will design a series of shots and explain the principles of the rigs, especially given that new smaller cameras are allowing so many more operators to own and fly their own rigs. Plus we break down the practical implementation of tracking markers for shooting greenscreen material.

Class 7

Car Rigs. High quality DSLRs and much smaller camera rigs are allowing for cheap and very creative car mount kits. We discuss shooting car dialogue - how to get coverage and how to avoid studio green screen solutions by filming with real cars using handheld, MOVI and car mount kits. What are some great camera angles, what is possible and how safe are the rigs?

Class 8

Shooting with shoulder rigs - these can allow you to achieve very natural camera motion. We also use the shoulder rigs to film plates for what will eventually be a VFX transition shot between the two plates.

Class 9

Helicopters. Big and small Helicopters are some of the most interesting mounts and produce some of the most wonderful establishing or environment shots. We examine rigs, monitoring and how much this has advanced in recent years.

Class 10

Fluid heads vs geared heads