Video Production 101: Moving vs. Static Shots

When considering the production aspects and camera work required in your video, it’s essential to get the storyboard buttoned up. This means that you work out each scene and shot. That means you need to decide how you want to convey the message in your video and get it down in a logical sequence. The transitions and movements from shot to shot and scene to scene also need to be worked out so that the narrative and visual flow is maintained smoothly, making the video an integrated piece of art and therefore easy to view and understand.

Once you have the storyboard in place, you can begin planning your shots. There are basically two categories of shots: the moving or dynamic shot or the static or stationary shot. The static shot is taken with the camera staying stationary through the shot and it doesn’t change its aim, whereas the moving shot allows the camera to change aim within each shot and vary the line and aspect. The different types of static shots include close-ups and extreme close-ups, medium shots, wide or full shot, medium wide and extreme wide or long shot. Static shots are generally used for interviews or for filming things that don’t move around too much.

If you’re using a camcorder or hand-held recording device, the static shot is your best friend. There’s a big difference in the way the eye perceives and the lens does, and also in the way your hand moves the camera and what’s captured in the lens. The movements appear jerky, blurred and definitely not easy to watch. Even the use of tripods or camera columns may not solve this problem. Professional film shooting uses advanced techniques and meticulous mapping of each camera angle, movement and shot to stabilize these aspects.

However, too many static shots can be boring and monotonous. Panning, zooming, tilting, trucking, dollying, etc are some of the techniques used and these add to the interest and variety. However, every slight camera movement is greatly magnified when it’s seen on screen. Smoothness and pre-composing your shot is crucial in moving shots. Having shots with movement in them can really help you in the editing process. A simple B-Roll shot on a slider can be used on screen far longer than a single static shot. You can also speed up and slow down your shots in post-production to give your video a more dramatic effect.

Ultimately, the answer to whether you should use moving or static shots is, “It depends”. If you are filming an ENG news package then you might want to stick with static shots to keep it quick and simple. However, if you are producing a corporate branding piece that is going to showcase the best of your company having moving shots mixed in with static interview shots can really take your video to the next level.