If you’re just getting started with shooting video with your DSLRs, there’s a better than even chance that you’re not quite used to making smooth movements with your camera. Here’s a quick tip to help you get started with making one of the most basic moves in cinematography: a side-to-side move with the camera locked down on a tripod with a fluid head (like this Manfrotto kit, available from BorrowLenses.com now) meant specifically for video.
- Video tripod and fluid head (I used my own, but you can rent a Manfrotto video head and tripod here).
- I also used my own 15mm rail system, but you can rent one like the Redrock Micro Eyespy from us. This is completely optional.
- HD-DSLR. I used the Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70mm lens.
- A rubber band
First, find yourself a rubber band. You want one that’s a bit sturdy, but not so stiff that it has no give at all. Then, set up your tripod and camera and make sure your focal length, exposure, and focus and are all adjusted to your liking.
To execute the pan, slip the rubber band around your video head’s handle and pull in the direction you want. Keep a smooth, even pressure on the rubber band, and stop pulling at the end of your pan, allowing the natural tension of the band to bring the pan to an end (or fade it to black in post, as I did here). Here’s a video that lays the technique out. The footage is ungraded (i.e., no post-production techniques have been applied to it as yet).
It’s not a perfect solution (as you can tell), but if you’re just starting out and haven’t had a lot of practice making those smooth, even movements, then this little trick can be pretty handy.
Got a tip of your own for smooth pans? As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments below.