Equipment dedicated to classic tracking movements.
Tracking is often defined as movement parallel to the action, “Dollying” is often defined as moving closer or further away from the action.
Optical Principle of the tracking shot
During a forward dolly shot, the camera advances and focuses on a fixed point: this movement enables the viewer to enter into the action or explore the space. The movement is reversed with a backward dolly shot: the viewer is moving back from a space, and this can be used, for example, to conclude a sequence. Unlike a zoom shot, also called “optical tracking” (but which is not strictly speaking a camera movement, because it’s the focus that varies), the forward (or backward) dolly shot presents a variation of perspective following along with the movement of the camera. Although they are shots of completely different types, the tracking and zoom techniques still achieve similar results when dealing with a limited perspective.
In lateral tracking, the camera is oriented to 90◦ with respect to the movement axis. This movement is often used to follow a person who is moving; as compared to a horizontal panoramic shot, it offers the advantage of inducing a change of perspective.
As for compensated tracking, this is the combination of a tracking shot and a zoom. It achieves a surprising effect; the subject doesn’t change the scale of vision even while the background is widened.
The key to a good camera movement resides in the expansion of our appreciation of perspective: we progress in a three-dimensional space that the camera translates into a two-dimensional image, so one has to compensate for this loss of depth by amplifying perspective. If you are shooting a forward tracking in a wide hallway with the walls away from the camera, you’ll achieve little in the way of perspective. Add some objects on the camera’s path (furniture, plants, etc.) and the movement will immediately take on its full scope, because these objects will have an impact on our perception of space.
Even if it is a classic technique in cinema, tracking is hardly used in video. In fact, it has the bad reputation of being rather complex to implement, being costly, and requiring rather intricate equipment. But today, there are tracking systems that are specifically developed for light weight cameras and HDSLR, much more affordable than their bigger cousins in the world of cinema. So there is a selection of different systems, and that’s what we’re going to present now. Even if they only have limited usage, they have the advantage of being able to be used by a sole operator with simple legs.
1- New tracking shot systems: Sliders
These systems allow you to create tracking shots over distances ranging from 50 cm to 2 m if you use one of the larger models.
There are two categories of Sliders, models which come from traditional models, adapted to the weight of professional cameras and their recent adaptations for the EOS reflexes and smaller video cameras.
As with other equipment, heavy and clumsy professional Sliders will always be confined to shoots with the full range of film equipment, whereas the new light models that are easy to put in place are destined more for independent artists and filmmakers.Today, Sliders represent a new practical alternative.They are light and efficient for short tracking shots with compact EOS equipment for example. Several brands have recognized the appeal and have made a number of models available. Personally, I generally use two brands of Slider:
The Cinevate: Atlas 10 (90cm vertical), Atlas FLT Moco (60cm motorized), Mini Duzi (Compact and light-weight 60cm) and the Kessler Stealth slider (1m Motorized).
These Sliders are small, light-weight models, ideal for solo use on any terrain:
entirely portable, they can be put in place on your tripod in less than 30 seconds. With two pads set on the extremities, they can also be placed directly on any hard, flat surface.
Motorized versions let you program precise movements in which you control the speed and fluidity completely.
They are also perfect for doing time lapse shots with numerous takes at regular intervals.
The original article was written by the author in French and has been translated for the purpose of the MSoX website.