FMP Research – Steadycams and Jibs

My general idea I outlined in my project proposal is that I want to show how humans alter the Earth to benefit themselves, and how we’re slowly destroying it in the process. I know that for this I want to include shots of nature; we live surrounded by mountains, forests and beaches which I want to make the most of. To reflect the serene views, I thought that the camera should move with ease and fluidity, giving a feeling of weightlessness. This means no hand held, so I thought using jib and steadycam would give the effect I wanted. However, after a bit of research I decided that the steadycam was not suited to my film. For example, look at these videos from the film, ‘The Tree of Life’.

This short clip shows steadicam shots from The Tree of Life where the main focus of the shots are humans. In my opinion these are the moments in the film when the use of steadicam is most effective. Whilst the motion is fluid, there is still a shaky, rough-and-ready feel, and it gives the viewer a human connection to the person on screen. Because the camera is moving so constantly and can get so close to the actors, the shots become far more intimate than they would with simple tripod shots. Take, for example, the second shot in this sequence, where they let go of hands. As they break contact, the camera movement shakes and it emphasizes it. You can feel that this is symbolic of something far larger, and the camerawork helps add emotion, because looks like as their hands break, the world breaks with them.

This short clip shows non-human steadycam shots from the same film. There’s nothing wrong with the shots, they’re well composed and the colours are beautiful. However, in my opinion the use of steadycam doesn’t add anything to it, if anything it takes away from the shots. The movement is distracting because it jolts and doesn’t match with the waves, which move smoothly. It’s all personal preference, and again, the shots aren’t bad, but if I was to recreate them I would want the camera to flow.

Jib shots

I’ve decided to still use jib shots, along with pans and tilts, because the motion for these are a lot smoother and therefore a subtler effect. However, I don’t want to go overboard. When you’re filming a lot of wide shots of landscapes like I will be, the scenery will often be enough to make it interesting. Especially nature. Nature is always moving: the tide going in and out, grass in the breeze. You don’t always need to add effects or movement to make the shots feel alive, so I will just occasionally use steady and pans to add variation.


Both videos above have a similar shot in them, showing long grass in a field.

The difference between them is that the one on the left from the video ‘Test Jib Shots’ was filmed using a jib, whereas the one on the right from ‘Edgeland’ is a stationary shot. I noticed immediately that I preferred the one from Edgeland, because it made the movement of the grass in the wind a more central focus in the shot. I think it’s better to use pans and tilts are shots when everything in the frame is very still.

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2 Responses to FMP Research – Steadycams and Jibs

  1. kendalcollegefilm says:

    Terrific work, Kitty, using strong examples to ably demonstrate your ideas and comprehension of the key principles. You’re making great connections between camera motion and its emotional or aesthetic impact on the film, and I’m pleased to see you making inroads into such strong practical effects. Next step is creating some examples of your own. (I thought these test jib shots were yours!)


  2. Pingback: FMP – Final Evaluation | Catriona Fish

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