Technical Planning for Video Work


Camera movements are key to this part of the project. However, camera movements with a DSLR are never satisfactory. Smoothness and accuracy are almost impossible to achieve unless the camera is mounted on some pretty expensive gear. I have tried handheld and tripod supported videos before. Handheld is a disaster without a powerful gyroscope and tripods are fine until you try some movement, that is when jerkiness begins.

How can I circumvent these problems without spending hundreds of pounds on a stabiliser, fluid pan tripod head and tracking dolly? The answer is simple, stop motion photography. By capturing movements frame by frame, the loss of control that comes with moving a camera at speed is eliminated. Innovative ways of using the camera are possible and dynamic lighting effects can be introduced single-handedly. By considering a sequence in terms of frames, the whole can be visualised and planned for more effectively.

Camera movements

I have all I need to accomplish all camera movements except tracking. The tripods I have are stable and smooth enough for frame by frame panning, tilting and even vertical tracking. However, I have had to order a set of tracking dolly rails from the internet. The spend is only £24 and having carried out some research: this piece of equipment appears quite adequate for the simple tasks I shall ask of it. I really could not justify larger spends, in some cases hundreds of pounds.

Camera and Subject Movements

  • Pan
  • Tilt
  • track
  • zoom
  • rotate


This is one technique that I believe will prove very useful to move into areas of the pieces to give the semblance of moving towards it. It is flexible enough to move around corners and zoon into details.


Lighting does not have to be static. I use painting with light over long exposures to create even lighting rather than using a booth or a whole battery of lights. I first came across this technique years ago through Ansel Adams, who used it in large interiors to light dark areas without the use of many lights which would have been in the way. I have used it for lighting small works with great effect. However, this is better suited for static photographs rather than moving images.

There is, though, an adaptation of this technique in that as the camera is moved in space during stop motion, the light source can also be moved to create dynamic light effects which would, I imagine, give the film the sense of being in a living environment.