Movement from a Fixed Point

Camera movement from a fixed point takes three forms: tilt, pan, or zoom. The tilt shot is a vertical movement, up-down or down-up. Generally, the tilt shot is used to follow action or to transition from one location to another. The tilt shot can also simulate the eye 92 movement of a character as that character looks up or down. The tilt shot is rarely used for dramatic emphasis.

The pan, or panning, shot follows movement along a horizontal axis, left to right or right to left. As in the case of the tilt, the pan follows action or simulates eye movement. In both the tilt and the pan, the camera is on a tripod, which remains stationary. The camera pivots are guided by the hand of the skilled camera operator; consequently, the movement tends to be smooth. More rapid movement can be used, but the visual information in the shot tends to blur. The more rapid the movement, the lower the actual visual information and the greater the blur. The illusion of movement is all that results when the cameraman uses a swish pan, a very rapid movement. This shot has been used as a transition from one location to another. It has also been used to simulate the excitement within a scene. Richard Lester used numerous swish pans in the performance sequence that concludes his "A Hard Day's Night." The excitement of the audience for The Beatles is emphasized by the use of swish pans.

The zoom shot relies on a lens that can be moved from a wide-angle shot to telephoto or the reverse. In both cases, the zoom is used to avoid cutting from a long shot to a close-up. Aside from the economic benefit of one setup instead of two, numerous directors from Visconti to Altman, from Kubrick to Peckinpah have used the zoom shot to lengthen a shot. Each had an aesthetic goal. In Kubrick's case (for example, in "Barry Lyndon"), he wanted to slow down our sense of time. "Barry Lyndon" is a film about an 18th-century character made by a 20th-century filmmaker aware that slowing down the film by using zooms will slow down the experience of the film. It may even transport the audience into a sense of the 18th century, at least in terms of time.

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