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Hand held Shooting


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#1 Vincent T Sharma

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 08:16 AM

Hi,

Could you share some tips on doing hand held shots..........in some movies, the hand held work looks all shabby and strains your eyes but in some good ones, it isn't so. What are the most important precautions to take while doing hand held shots?
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#2 Jim Feldspar

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 11:11 AM

Hi,

Could you share some tips on doing hand held shots..........in some movies, the hand held work looks all shabby and strains your eyes but in some good ones, it isn't so. What are the most important precautions to take while doing hand held shots?


I would say generaly stay at the wider end of the lens and use it where appropriate. For example,
if you want a close-up of the American flag at the top of the flagpole, use a tripod and lock it
off! Sounds obvious but people are lazy. On the other hand, handheld is a great story tool for
moving people in and out of a shot and getting a page of script in one shot and moving the story
along without cuts (and moving the production too.) Just look at the beginning of any episode of
"Law and Order" when the detectives are investigating. A lot of one shot handheld scenes and they
work great. Also, get some episodes of "Homicide" on DVD. Great show with lots of handheld work.

There's a lot of shaky hand held work done deliberately but it's become somewhat cliched, such
as in fight scenes, and often is done to hide the fakeness of two actors who don't know how to
make a fight look believable (despite the fight/stunt coordinator's efforts.)

Also, there are a lot of inexpensive camera stabilizers that take the bounce out of walking
handheld shots. How heavy is your camera? Glidecams are great and less than $400.00 for
one with a brace (get it!) and can hold up to ten pounds. A $100.00 less if your camera is <
6 lbs. Anton-Bauer makes an E-Z Grip for $100.00 or less that looks like a flexible stick but it's
amazing. I walked fifteen feet with it holding an HVX-200 and it was far superior to what I would
have got hand-held.
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#3 Nick Mulder

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 02:16 PM

Whatever it is they did in the new series of Battle Star Gallactica is something that irritated me enough to not bother watching the rest ... (I was a child fan of the original)

It was like they were doing handheld 'slides' and 'having a temporary fit' cam - highly unenjoyable
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 02:30 PM

There's the ol' term "Shoot from the hip". Take the camera off your shoulder and shoot from some alternate angles, besides the ones we all see in handheld home movies.

I'm not a big fan of films and TV shows that try to shoot what has mistakenly been dubbed "documentary style", but some out there do a good job of it. Just be sure you actually compose your shots when going handheld, that way the entire film doesn't look like "Oh, I just BARELY got that shot!"
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#5 Joe Lotuaco

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 02:40 PM

Whenever I do handheld work without any special gadgetry, I always try to maintain a sort of "3 point" system of contact. Meaning, the camera is connected to my body at 3 or more points. For example, if you are using a camera such as a DVX/HVX I would use the eyepiece instead of the flip out screen. The eyepiece held firmly, but not too firmly, onto my face is one point and then I hold the camera with both hands with both elbows in and in constant contact with my body. So between the eyepiece, and my elbows, that's three points of contact. The rest is keeping my body steady, knees bent, and learning how to walk in a "gliding" fashion. I've noticed really shaky handheld stuff comes from when the operator uses a camera such as the DVX with the flip out screen and their arms are held elbows out. By keeping the camera in firm contact with your body, the camera inherently becomes steadier. I love using the XL2 for handheld work since you hold it on your shoulder making handheld work have a smoother, more natural movement in my eyes. But if you are using heavier cameras, it definitely helps keeping takes as short as possible or to have a lower back made of titanium and carbon fiber :)

There was a picture I saw awhile back of various positions a still photographer can use to get steady shots. It showed various ways a photographer can use his body as a tripod and support when taking pictures with a longer lens to minimize blur. I wonder if I can find it again. It's come in handy for me on more than one occasion when shooting still and motion pictures.
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#6 Alex Taylor

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Posted 01 January 2007 - 07:51 PM

There was a picture I saw awhile back of various positions a still photographer can use to get steady shots.


Ah yes, the fabled "Kama Sutra" of photography :D
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#7 Philippe Lignieres

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 06:00 PM

Hi,

Could you share some tips on doing hand held shots..........in some movies, the hand held work looks all shabby and strains your eyes but in some good ones, it isn't so. What are the most important precautions to take while doing hand held shots?


I do a lot of handheld shots, mostly with XM2 Canon and a little with K-3 or Kinor 16mm.
I always use camera with monopod and a rope (or a piece of leather) around my neck, basis of monopod locked into the rope.
With that device, handheld shots are rock steady, even if not wide lens used.
And after many hours, especially for documentary shots, you are not so tired.

Philippe
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 08:18 AM

Doing smooth handheld is a bit like walking with a book balanced on top of your head. You want to walk to same way you would with the book. Keeping your knees bent and walking heel-toe are good starting points. Be aware of the effect every movement your body makes on the frame. When you're walking in every day life (without a camera) try to walk so that you minimize as much vertical and horizontal bounce as you can. You may look a bit silly, but it's good practice for handheld.
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#9 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 08:51 AM

Try a little yoga, and don't forget to breath. Balance is the name of the game.
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#10 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 10:44 AM

.... As Brad says - knees bent and walk heel to toe. It's really important to not stand flat-footed - if you need to do a move you'll have to adjust your body stance and this will come over on camera. Likewise with panning - you can only pan so far with flat feet. Try standing flat footed and pan ... your back soon twists (ouch with a heavy camera and glass!) and you'll have to adjust your feet to continue the pan...

- If you're shooting doco' work I'd always try to use your left eye a lot to see what maybe coming into frame and also where you might move to and/or frame. If you're using a zoom it's good practice to hide the zoom in a smooth move. And if you intend to use obvious zooms make the zooms positive with good precise control (unless of course you want a rougher look...). It's vital that your give your director and editor choices and coverage where you can in doco's. The basic rule of 3 is a pretty good guide to begin with (and it is surprising how little cover is shot in modern doco's). Always give enough of a hold on any shot if possible for the edit too...

Best of all watch good movies and docos!

Rupe Whiteman UK
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#11 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 11:02 AM

the question is, why doing hand held instead of dolly, tripod or crane or sand bag, steadycam whatever.
it's part of cinematography's grammar.

you film handheld because you want to take the audience into the action/drama.
the audience will feel the breath it won't feel with a steadycam who has a "robotic" effect.
or it's a POV from a living subject a human soldier (saving private ryan) a dog a kid a snake even E.T.

you can bring hand held to contrast with sticks

hope it helps

by
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 12:59 PM

Try a little yoga, and don't forget to breath. Balance is the name of the game.


Tai Chi is very useful. Since it deals with slow smooth moves and anticipating your opponents move.
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 09:49 PM

I'd always try to use your left eye a lot to see what maybe coming into frame and also where you might move to and/or frame.
Rupe Whiteman UK

Good point. This is key. I used to shoot a fair amount of handheld on the floor of basketball games and if I didn't keep both eyes open I would have been injured on many occassions. I'm able to keep both eyes open while alternating my concentration from one eye to the other, so that if I'm concentrating with my right eye I can still catch things with my left, and vice versa. I'm not sure if that description makes sense, but it's very helpful when moving a lot or when a lot of things are moving around you.
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