How Powerful Can a Motivated Camera Movement Be?

There are countless camera support systems and gimbals these days capable of producing silky smooth and professionally looking cinematic shots in almost any situation and at a reasonable price. However, these tools are useless if you really don’t know how to plan, execute, and implement a certain camera movement so that it can serve your story and enhance the narrative in the best possible way.

We all know that camera movement can be an extremely powerful filmmaking asset, but only when utilised for a reason. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need the most advanced tools to create the strongest impact and immerse your audience in the story you are about to tell. Here is an insightful example from the stunning cinematography of the iconic AMC TV drama Breaking Bad that reveals the true power of two simple camera movements.

BREAKING BAD – Motivated Camera Movement from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

This excerpt taken from a scene from the final episode of the show, at first, appears to be just conveying information to the viewer. Then, with two simple camera movements it flips the plot on its head. A twist crafted to perfection like this one can be achieved only by careful planning and blocking, and through precise and coordinated efforts between authors, editors, directors, set designers and DoPs etc long before the principal photography has commenced.

Sure, you can pick your favourite gimbal, put a camera on it and shoot an entire film this way. But before you do that ask yourself whether this will serve your story and create the strongest emotional impact on your audience. If the answer is “Yes”, kudos to you. Unfortunately, in reality, it’s not just as simple as that.

Breaking Bad

And, this is only one of the reasons why filmmaking as an art form is so inspiring and powerful. Your aim as a visual storyteller is to provoke and touch your audience emotionally combining your immense filmmaking skill set with your artistic soul, strong personality and creative vision.

Whether you are going to scare, make people laugh or cry you should do you best to tell the story in the most immersive way using the filmmaking language and all assets provided that you have at your disposal. Filmmaking has the power to influence and even change people’s lives so it should be treated accordingly and never underrated.

Otherwise, using the latest filmmaking gadgets unintentionally is a great way to capture some cool shots for you web videos but will never be a viable option to tell an inspiring story if not used intentionally and in some meaningful and motivated way.

I often think about this when I’m watching a favourite movie or TV show. As filmmakers, we should embrace and learn the filmmaking language by finding all creative solutions to express our individual selves by trusting our personal visual aesthetics and simply pour our heart and soul every time we have a great and inspiring story to tell.

[via: SLR Lounge, source: Vashi Visuals]

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  • David McCallum

    I know this is not going to be published. But I can’t help saying how self-important this “lesson” is. This is a simple reveal – a trick – not a motivated shot. Just watch any scene from Throw Mamma From The Train – or anything shot by Barry Sonnenfeld, or any Joel and Ethan Cohen movie – the camera motivates every aspect of the plot – from the “shaky cam” of Blood Simple to the subtle camera angles of A Serious Man.

  • David McCallum

    Vlady, you published my email to you without letting me know that you were going to make it public. I told you that I would rather my original comments not be published, but you published them anyway and then you rebutted them.

    • Vlady Radev

      I really don’t get your point here. Please, elaborate! What email are you talking about?

  • Marius

    Coming from Germany, I really struggle with the name “motivated camera movement” in this case, because here we learn and use the term “motivated”if it’s because of something – for example – moving within the scene (an actor walking or something). If the camera is doing something by itself, to reveal something, or to pay attention to something, we call it an “independent camera movement”; which is clearly the case here. Is there no differentiation in english for those two kinds of camera movement?

    • Vlady Radev

      Use the word that makes you feel most comfortable to express yourself whether it’s in English or in your native language. I think the point in the article is unambiguous. Cheers,

  • Steve M.

    Yeah, I kind of agree with Marius, I’m not so sure the term “Motivated” is the best to describe this. If you look at the definition for “Motivated” you’ll see what I mean. it’s more of a preset reveal. That being, two prior shots setting up a surprise reveal.