Types

     How, how fast, and where the camera moves determines the angles and shots it will produce. Camerawork includes both the aforementioned framing and the movement of camera which creates the illusion of depth (film is a two-dimensional photographic medium).

     In terms of how stable the camera is and the kind of movement it engages in, there are the pan, tilt, dolly, crane, handheld,  and Steadicam shots.

     The camera could be mounted on a tripod at the desired height. The camera could move laterally from side to side while staying stable horizontally to achieve pan shots.

     The camera could also pivot vertically, up and down, to create tilt shots.

     The camera could be mounted on a mechanical arm to create crane shots that move freely through space, both horizontally and vertically. Crane shots provide an omniscient point of view.

     When the camera moves smoothly on wheels, it creates dolly or tracking shots. With this setup, the camera can pull backwards to gradually reveal new information that is previously hidden from view in the frame. This is known as slow disclosure.

Source: Pexels

Examples

     Watch this short video to discover outstanding camera movements that build up or subvert audience expectations. The camera needs not always show everything to tell a story. In some cases, the camera turns away to spare audiences from witness gruesome scenes.

Exercise

     Your Turn:     Analyze the camerawork, particularly the dolly-turned-crane shot, in the final scene of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996). How does the camera movement convey grief and the restoration of political order?

 

     Your Turn Again: Another strategy to show tension is to juxtapose shots of various characters’ faces. As the stuttering Chorus (a tailor named Wabash, played by Mark Williams) in Shakespeare in Love (dir. John Madden, 1998) moves along in delivering the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet, his stammer gradually disappears and he gains confidence. Eventually he is able to finish reciting the speech in front of a packed house.

 

Answer Key:

     Will and his fellow actors do not initially know that Wabash would overcome his stammer. The tailor of stage manager Philip Henslowe, Wabash wishes to act on stage for personal enjoyment even if it would jeopardize the production.

     To heighten the tension, the film juxtaposes close-up shots of Wabash’s straining lips as he stutters on a thrust stage with medium shots of Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) wringing his hands backstage, the hands whence the play-text flows.

     The uncomfortable silence and Wabash’s stuttering is accentuated by the audiences’ impatient sniggering as the camera—taking Wabash’s perspective—pans over the crowds in the pit and galleys that surround him in a multi-sided, three-tiered, open-air theatre with a central, uncovered yard.

     Watch this scene and analyze how the framing, cuts, and shots work together to produce tension.