There are tools that allow us filmmakers to convey emotion and energy through otherwise dull and boring shots. It may be a crane, a steadycam, a dolly, or for those who can’t afford a set of tracks or a Jimmy Jib, usually it’s a slider. Sliders are quite cheap and make for an amazing addition to your gear.
But what if you already have a slider and are willing to step up your game by adding something more to the mix? There’s where the motion control comes in. Here, thanks to Jordy Vandeput and his team we can explore some of the basic movements and possibilities that a motion controlled slider can offer, which is well beyond what you expect.
The particular characteristic of a motion controlled slider is the ability to repeat the same exact movement infinite times. Not being controlled by a human hand but by a motor, you can program it in order to do the same precise shot time after time. What’s the good in there? Well, let’s see.
Technique #1 – Backround replacement
Shoot a studio scene where you green screen your actor while the sliders goes, then take the slider in a complete different environment. Now, thanks to the companion app to the slider, repeat the exact same movement, so that later in post you can put your background behind the talent you shot earlier.
Now having a complete different layer but retaining the same movement allows for some VFX customization, like a strange sci-fi world.
Technique #2 – Synchronised Movement
There are two options in motion sync. The first one is to leave the slider in place and take the same shot in different moments of the day. Having the same movement you can cut from one to the other seamlessly, making for a very creative effect that conveys the flowing of time.
Another possibility is to move the slider and repeat the movement in different scenarios. It will not be as seamless, but the editing will still flow better than having different speeds in the shots.
Technique #3 – Floating head
This is more of a nice amenity, rather than a useful trick, but still, it’s a fun one. This trick is easy to do with a tripod too, but of course, there will be no movement in that case.
Shoot a talent sporting a green shirt and repeat the same shot without the talent but keeping the same background, having the slider repeat the camera movement, you can key out the body and mask the arms to have a nice floating head, but with a camera move.
Technique #4 – Macro Shots
Macro shots are more than enticing, they can completely change the tone of a clip. One of the problems with a normal slider is that when working with macro it’s quite impossible to have a perfect movement without little bumps. Even the tiniest of shakes or movements can ruin the shot.
Having the ability to program shots, maybe using the app to ramp up the speed and give a nice acceleration to the movement, can be a nice saver. Set the focus on the arrival point, and let the slider take care of it.
Technique #5 – Difficult Locations
It often happens when you shoot on locations that you need to take some tricky shots. They can be tricky because of how the location itself is made. Sometimes there is no room for a camera operator to stand behind the camera, so the usual solution is to place the camera and start recording, get away from the camera and hope for the best.
Now you can take that dull and boring fixed shot by launching the app and set the slider in motion. Boom! Awesome shot, otherwise impossible to have.
So there you have it, five different ways you can use your motion controlled gear to create some enticing shots. Let us know what you think about these creative techniques in the comments below.
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