Module 17-2


Updated:  02/03/2017


Part IIModule 17-B



The Basics




Basic Camera Moves

In Module 6, we introduced the basic camera moves. As you'll recall, we refer to moving (rolling) the entire camera toward or away from the subject as a dolly ("dolly in" for a close shot or "dolly back" for a wide-shot).

A lateral move (rolling the camera to the left or right on the pedestal) is trucking, as in "truck left" or "truck right."

And, finally, you'll recall that a zoom optically achieves somewhat the same effect as a dolly, but without moving the entire camera.

camera moves rocker switch

The photo on the right above shows a typical rocker switch (next to a camera lens) that controls the direction and speed of a zoom.


Studio Camera Mounts

In the studio the entire camera assembly is mounted on a pedestal or dolly (shown here) so that the operator can complete camera setup smoothly roll it around on the floor. The three wheels in the base of the pedestal can be turned using the steering ring.

The camera is directly attached to a pan head, which enables the pan and tilt (horizontal and vertical) camera movements to be adjusted. 

Controls on the pan head allow the camera either to move freely, to be locked into position, or to offer controlled resistance to facilitate smooth pans and tilts.

Although the camera may weigh more than 100 pounds (45kg), internal counterweights allow an operator to easily raise and lower the camera when the telescoping column in the center is unlocked.

The photo above shows some of the other key parts of a manually controlled  studio camera pedestal. Many TV production facilities now use robotic cameras that are remotely controlled from the TV control room. (See below.)

tripod dolly A simpler camera support is the collapsible dolly shown on the left. This type of mount is used for remote productions and in some small studios.

Unlike the elaborate studio pedestal that can be smoothly rolled across a studio floor (even while the camera is on the air), the wheels on small dollies are intended to move the camera from place to place between shots.Robot Camera Mount


Robotic Camera Mounts

Camera operators have disappeared at many production facilities -- replaced by remotely controlled, robotic camera systems. (Note photo.)

From the TV control room, technicians can adjust the pan, tilt, zoom and focus, and even remotely dolly and truck these cameras around the studio.

Although robotic cameras are not desirable for unpredictable or fast-moving subject matter, for programs such as newscasts and interviews (where operating cameras can get pretty boring anyway) they significantly reduce production expenses. 

" Remember, throughout these modules we're introducing you to equipment that you could encounter on a job or internship, and not the kind of equipment that's typical for schools and training facilities." (See Footnote)


Camera Jibs

A device that's come into wide use in the last decade is the camera jib, essentially a long, highly maneuverable boom or crane-like device with a mounted camera at the end. You frequently see them in action swinging overhead at concerts and major events.

Boom Camera
Jib Camera

The operator and controls for the jib are shown above on the right. Note the two video monitors (one for camera output and one for program video) and the heavy weights that help balance the weight of the camera and crane.

A jib allows sweeping camera movements from ground level to nine meters (thirty feet) or more in the air.

SteadycamFor more mobile camera work outside the studio, handheld camera supports allow significant mobility while still offering fairly steady camera shots.  

The most famous of these is the Steadicam® (shown above), which is used with both film and video cameras. 

The camera is mounted on a flexible arm that uses a series of spring balances to hold its position. A camera operator can walk and even run and still get a reasonably steady shot.

In addition to being costly, these units are heavy and require an experienced operator.

For smaller cameras, such as the one shown below, Steadicam JR® and similar units can provide smooth camera moves at a fraction of the cost and weight. Small Steadycam Device

The separate viewfinder (at the bottom of the picture) allows the unit to be held away from the body, where it won't be inadvertently bumped. 

With a bit of practice an operator can walk in front of or behind a moving subject without undue camera movement.  

Walking around with a full cup of coffee in your hand is good practice for using one of these. When you can go up and down stairs without spilling the coffee, you'll probably do a good job with one of the smaller Steadicam-type units. 


Camera Tracks

For elaborate productions, installing camera tracks allows the camera to more smoothly follow talent and move through a scene. Although a camera operator can ride with the camera as shown below, some cameras are remotely controlled.Camera Tracks

Once the track is laid down and leveled the result can be smooth dollies and tracking shots. However, because of the set-up time involved, many directors of photography (DPs) prefer to simply go with hand-held camera shots.  


In 2015 a new aerial "camera mount" came into general  use which had major advantages for surveillance videography and news.

Drones, which appeared in different levels of sophistication from different manufacturers, can provide areal views of scenes which are impossible from the ground level.

The initial wave of drones were unregulated and sometimes ran afoul of commercial, firefighting, and safety aircraft. This prompted laws backed by stiff penalties that limited when and where they could fly.

One of the more popular drone systems (shown here) is made by Yuneec, which has numerous demonstration videos on their site and on YouTube.

Some models have image stabilization and some have  "follow me" capabilities, which can automatically follow moving, ground-level objects.


Most drones are "piloted" by "ground station remote controls, as shown below.

The better drone systems also have object avoidance capabilities which keep them from bumping into things.  All drones are battery operated.

e'll look at specific cameras and their features in later modules, but before we do we need to look at some key elements in camera operations. We'll start with color balancing cameras, a topic in the next module.

* A student who was about half way through my course told me that on her first day at her internship with a group of interns from different area schools they confronted some equipment she that she had learned about in my class.  She was the only one in the group that understood it.  She was offered a job right then.  And, no, I'm not making this up!! 

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