Generally, when plannning your shots, your goal is to tell a story. Maybe the story is the progress of a build, climaxing with its completion, i.e. a build timelapse. Or you want to follow an animated entity, so you can tell your viewers what the animation is doing. When planning your story, properly breaking up the timeline is important for structure and organization.
A sequence is a distinct narrative unit, generally composed of a specific location, or linear progression of time. For example, warriors preparing for battle the night before in their camp is a sequence, one that is seperate from the actual battle the following day. Sequences are generally only for longer film and animation, when you are telling a full narrative.
Sequences are made up of scenes. Scenes are generally not narrative in purpose, but informative, or defining. While a sequence overall tells the story, the sequences are the actual events that make up that story. Returning to the warriors battle mentioned prior, a scene would be a specific fight between two major enemies in the battle, a scene for when they engage eachother, a scene for the fight itself, and a scene showing who was victorious.
Sequences are made up of shots. Shots are actual camera movements, in sequential order with transitions between the shots, which composes a scene. Learning how to communicate with camera movement is the purpose of this guide, and the fundemental building block of dictating what your scenes tell the audience so your sequences can tell your story.
Camera movement is one of the fundemental languages you should learn in order to properly express and explain your content. The following is a list of the most common shots you can make with camera movement, how they are used and what they convey.
A critical thing to learn is what to call different types of camera movements. There is a name for every way you can move a camera.
Speed is not a camera movement, its a measurement of how quickly you make a camera movement. It is important however to keep in mind, the speed at which you complete a shot allows you to distinctly define the energy of the shot, slow speeds are dramatic, or scary, they reveal something, or make you wonder. Where quick speeds are fast paced, can be hard to follow, and full of energy, and can even be used to convey comedy.
Zoom simply consists of adjusting the focal length of your camera, allowing you to make something take up more or less of your frame without actually moving the camera. Zoom is the most used, (and thus overused) camera movement there is. Amatuer filmmakers will use it as a crutch to add energy to a shot when they dont know what else to do. Try to minimize your use of zoom as a regular or common shot, instead use it in combination with other camera movements to develop techniques. In shutter, you can zoom by default, with Numpad 8 to zoom in, or increase the size of your subject in relation to your frame, or Numpad 2, to zoom out, or decrease the size of your subject.
Panning consists of locking your cameras location in place, and rotating it horizontally, so that it does not focus on one subject, but instead shows off the horizon of your scene. This kind of shot is commonly used for giving the viewer a sense of location in your story.
Tilt consists of locking your cameras location in place, and rotating the camera vertically, establishing height or depth, without moving the camera. It is great for establishing characters in film, in game, it can be great for showcasing the height of a build, or as a beggining or ending shot, where you start your sequence by tilting down to show the ground, or end it by tilting up to show just the sky.
Dolly is when you move your camera forward or backwards, while keeping the lens facing forward. In shutter you generally want to line up your nodes on the same axis to ensure a straight line and dolly movement. This is useful for fluid shots, following en entity from behind or infront, or to showcase the length of a build, such as a hallway, or a cliff face.
Trucking is just like dolly, except you are moving your camera left and right, while keeping the direction of your camera facing forward. This has the same uses as dolly, just from another angle.
Pedestal is also similar to dolly, except you move your camera up and down, without any pan or tilt. The phrase comes from camera operators increasing or decreasing the height of the pedestal the camera tripod sat on. This movement is also used to the same effect as dolly or truck movements, but can also help with revealing subject matter in small spaces, or when the subject takes up more space then the frame.
7. Rack Focus or Focal Slide
Rack focus is not a camera movement as much as it is a camera technique. Rack focus consists of a shot where the camera does not move at all, but the depth of field blurs out either the foreground or the background, and then the camera slides the depth of field changing the focus between foreground and background. This helps change the viewers focus between two subjects in a frame, while still letting them see both subjects in full detail. In shutter this is achieved by having installed focal engine, from our partners at continuum, and a shader that supports focal depth, or blur. Focal engine allows a shaders values to be changed without reloading the shader, allowing shutter to interpolate shader values between two nodes. In practice, you would create a node at a location, with both your subjects in frame, at a distance apart away from the camera. Then you would adjust your shaders focal point onto one subject, create your node, then change the shaders focal point on the other subject, bluring out the previous one, and create another node, without moving your camera. Shutter knows to track that shader setting changing, and smoothly interpolates between the two values for a pleasent transition between the subjects of your frame.
Counterintuitively, the static shot consists of a camera that is locked in place, resulting in no camera movement.
Uses: Static shots are best used for dialogue, transitioning back and forth between characters engaged in conversation, without moving the camera. For more energy