Module 17-2


Updated:  01/03/2014


Part IIModule



The Basics




Basic Camera Moves

In Module 6, we introduced the basic camera moves. As you'll recall, we refer to moving (rolling) the entire camera toward or away from the subject as a dolly ("dolly in" for a close shot or "dolly back" for a wide-shot).

A lateral move (rolling the camera to the left or right on the pedestal) is trucking, as in "truck left" or "truck right."

And, finally, you'll recall that a zoom optically achieves somewhat the same effect as a dolly, but without moving the entire camera.

camera moves rocker switch

The photo on the right above shows a typical rocker switch (next to a camera lens) that controls the direction and speed of a zoom.


Studio Camera Mounts

>>In the studio the entire camera assembly is mounted on a pedestal or dolly (shown here) so that the operator can complete camera setup smoothly roll it around on the floor.

The three wheels in the base of the pedestal can be turned using the steering ring.

The camera is directly attached to a pan head, which enables the pan and tilt (horizontal and vertical) camera movements to be adjusted. 

Controls on the pan head allow the camera either to move freely, to be locked into position, or to offer controlled resistance to facilitate smooth pans and tilts.

Although the camera may weigh more than 100 pounds (45kg), internal counter-weights allow an operator to easily raise and lower the camera when the telescoping column in the center is unlocked.

The photo above shows some of the other key parts of a manually controlled  studio camera pedestal. Most TV production facilities now use robotic cameras that are remotely controlled from the TV control room. (See below.)


 >>A simpler camera support is the collapsible dolly shown on the left. This type of mount is used for remote productions and in some small studios.

Unlike the elaborate studio pedestal that can be smoothly rolled across a studio floor (even while the camera is on the air), the wheels on small dollies are only intended to move the camera from place to place between shots.


Robot Camera Mount


Robotic Camera Mounts

>>Camera operators have disappeared at many, if not most commercial production facilities (but not training facilities) -- replaced by remotely controlled, robotic camera systems. (Note photo.)

From the TV control room, technicians can adjust the pan, tilt, zoom and focus, and even remotely dolly and truck these cameras around the studio.

Although robotic cameras are not desirable for unpredictable or fast-moving subject matter, for programs such as newscasts and interviews (where operating cameras can get pretty boring anyway) they significantly reduce production expenses.


Camera Jibs

>>A device that's come into wide use in the last decade is the camera jib, essentially a long, highly maneuverable boom or crane-like device with a mounted camera at the end. You frequently see them in action swinging overhead at concerts and major events.

Boom Camera
Jib Camera

The operator and controls for the jib are shown above on the right. Note the two video monitors (one for camera output and one for program video) and the heavy weights that help balance the weight of the camera and crane.

A jib allows sweeping camera movements from ground level to nine meters (thirty feet) or more in the air. This is another concept we'll revisit in more detail later.

SteadycamFor more mobile camera work outside the studio, handheld camera supports allow significant mobility while still offering fairly steady camera shots.  

The most famous of these is the Steadicam® (shown on the right), which is used with both film and video cameras. 

The camera is mounted on a flexible arm that uses a series of spring balances to hold its position. A camera operator can walk, run, and even dash up a flight of stairs and still get a reasonably steady shot.

In addition to being costly, these units are heavy and require an experienced operator.

For smaller cameras, such as the one shown below, Steadicam JR® and similar units can provide smooth camera moves at a fraction of the cost and weight. The separate viewfinder (at the bottom of the picture) allows the unit to be held away from the body, where it won't be inadvertently bumped. 

With a bit of practice an operator can walk in front of or behind a moving subject without undue camera movement. Small Steadycam

Walking around with a full cup of coffee in your hand is good practice for using one of these. When you can go up and down stairs without spilling the coffee, you'll probably do a good job with one of the smaller Steadicam-type units. 

" Remember, throughout these modules we're introducing you to equipment that you could encounter on a job or internship, and not the kind of equipment that's typical for schools and training facilities." (See Footnote)


Camera Tracks and "Copters"

>>For elaborate productions, installing camera tracks allows the camera to more smoothly follow talent and move through a scene. Although a camera operator can ride with the camera (as shown below), some cameras are remotely controlled.

Camera Tracks   Camera copter

Looking like a giant mosquito with a TV camera in its nose, the miniature (four-foot long) helicopter shown above can provide aerial views of various sporting events. A ground observer remotely controls the entire unit, and the unit's omnidirectional microwave relays the video to the production van.

In 2013, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) put the first camera drones into service for covering news. One of the smaller versions is shown below.

BBC Drone2 BBC Drone1

Since remotely-controlled, helicopter-type drones can move into places inaccessible by individuals or fixed-wing aircraft, they can provide coverage of events otherwise drone 

Plus, helicopter type drones can hover above news scenes for extended periods of time.

The video signal is relayed (live) to a receiver on the ground.

In the United States, as in some other counties, drone activities are subject to special restrictions.

 We'll look at specific cameras and their features in later modules, but before we do we need to look at some key elements in camera operations. We'll start with color balancing cameras, a topic in the next module.

* A student who was about half way through my course told me that on her first day at her internship with a group of interns from different area schools the group confronted some equipment she that she had learned about in my class.  She was the only one in the group that understood it.  She was offered a job on the spot.  And, no, I'm not making this up!

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