Hand-Held Camera Work

Saturday (December 28) we are filming at Heart of Texas Yoga and I’ve planned several shots to be done hand-held. Since I’ve been a bit concerned about how to get good, steady hand-held shots, the cosmic forces sent me an excellent 90 minute workshop on the subject. It is presented by Sean Bobbitt, a cinematographer who likes to do his own camera-work.

He had a lot so say, but for tomorrow’s shoot I gleaned these tips.

  • Light from the top; plan for 360 degrees; watch shadows
  • Try not to fiddle with lights between shots
  • Don’t change f-stop during a scene
  • Create three points of contact
  • Don’t stand still; keep camera moving
  • Keep headroom constant
  • Walk in-step with the actors
  • Lift your feet as you walk

Lens choice is complicated these days with different sized sensors creating different image sizes. Bobbitt recommends a wide lens in the 24mm to 32mm range. A longer lens shows the camera shake too much and a shorter one is prone to distortion. My camera has a APS-C sized sensor (about the same size as a 3-perf, Super 35mm film frame) and my 19mm lens equates to 28mm in Bobbitt’s terms, so we are good to go.