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How Tracking Shots Can Keep Your Viewers Watching

How Tracking Shots Can Keep Your Viewers Watching

Keeping your viewer's attention on your video can be challenging with the amount of stimulus everyone is constantly receiving. Pairing that with a short attention span and view times can be low unless you have a video that will grab a person's attention. In this article, we will look at the benefits of adding tracking shots to your filmmaking repertoire. Pairing that with the use of a green screen, your videos will be taken up a notch in quality and will be more likely to hold your viewer's attention.

Build Interest and Intensity with Tracking Shots

Building interest and intensity in a video is paramount to keeping a viewer watching. There are an abundance of ways that you can achieve this, but one of the easiest is to use tracking shots. Tracking shots are a great way to create a sense of liveliness and action within a video. As you track through the scene, your viewers will feel as if they are traveling along with you through that given space. This builds intensity in an environment by making it more active and bringing life to the composition of elements in a shot.

Add impact

One way to add impact to a tracking shot is to have the camera move along with an element of action. For instance, if your protagonist is running through a park and you want to show that activity and intensity, try having the cameraperson run alongside them, so it appears as if they are moving together instead of just panning behind them. A scene used frequently is a tracking shot that matches the movement of a vehicle. In this particular scene, you can see how it builds intensity while also providing some authenticity to an otherwise staged shoot.

Tracking shots do not have to be made overly complicated. You can achieve these shots by simply walking, running, biking, etc., along a path while filming. They can look simple but are often very powerful in their ability to draw emotions out of viewers.

Create a new dimension

Tracking shots are not just limited to the use of moving your camera alongside another element of movement, though. Because you are effectively moving through space, a tracking shot can be used to either draw your viewer into a space or release them from it. If you wish to bring your viewers into the action, try moving through spaces slowly as if your character is traveling through that space. In this instance, you would follow behind the subject as they look around and take in the environment. Conversely, if you wish to release your viewer from a scene and give them a sense of closure, then you can use the tracking shot as an exit for that character.

The last thing, with regards to using space is how it helps you avoid losing your viewer's attention. Unlike a traditional shot, a tracking shot has more than just one object in the frame. The result of this is that there is always something for your viewer's eye to rest on and not get lost. By having many things for your viewer's eyes to focus on, you can ensure that they stay engaged with your scene and do not lose interest.

Types of Tracking Shots for Your Videos

There are many different types of tracking shots. Yhe most common and best types of tracking shots are dolly, Steadicam, handheld, crane, and drone shots. Each of these shots has its place and purpose in the creation of a film as seen below.

Dolly Shot

A dolly shot is perfect for tracking an object and giving it a feeling of weight. A great example of this can be viewed in the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan. In this scene, they used dolly shots to track alongside soldiers as they ran through the gunfire and explosions. This is such a powerful way of showing how intense their journey was and adds so much to that opening scene.

Steadicam Shot

Steadicam shots are great for capturing smooth tracking shots while avoiding the need for a dolly track. Because you are using a camera stabilizer, they can be very effective when done right and give you an extremely fluid feeling shot. The stabilizer removes the camera movements from the camera operator. An example of Steadicam usage in Stranger Things is found during the scene where they are investigating Hawkins Laboratory. The shot starts with the protagonists walking and slowly following the lights of Eleven's bike. This is a good Steadicam shot because it adds some variety to their walking scene and brings more energy into the scene while also seamlessly moving us through space.

Handheld Shot

Handheld shots are great for capturing relatively smooth tracking camera movement but without bulky equipment such as a Steadicam rig. This is an inexpensive go-to for tracking shots, and it works well with most subjects. A great example of this is in The Revenant when they are hunting a deer through the forest. This scene showed how effective handheld shots can be with certain subjects.

Crane Shot

Another option for your tracking shots is the usage of a crane shot. A crane shot operates much like a typical tracking shot, but with more fluidity. It also offers variety in how you move around space. There are many different types of cranes, but they all essentially work by having your camera on top of some sort of platform. This can lift into the air and move around. An example of a steady crane shot can be seen in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou when they are in the submarine. This type of shot is more suited for stationary objects. But can be effective in other instances when used correctly.

Drone Shot

Another option in regards to tracking shots are drone shots. This option used to be reserved for professionals due to the cost of using a drone. However, technology has come so far in this area. Now you can easily get your hands on one at an affordable price. Drones are great tools because they allow you to capture the beauty of nature and give viewers a sense of scale. An example of this can be seen in Kong: Skull Island, where they are flying over the mountains and getting a birds-eye view of how massive the island is. These shots provide an incredible sense of scale which works well with their gigantic title character.

Pair a Green Screen with Your Tracking Shots

When you pair tracking shots with a green screen, you can really open up the creative possibilities for a film. Using a green screen is a great way to cut out an object or subject. It then allows you to place it on a different background. An example of this is found in the film Black Panther. They used tracking shots through their computer lab to follow Shuri using different technological gadgets. This provides all sorts of creative freedom for how they directed that scene. This is because they could place her and the lab in any background. You can achieve something like this with your tracking shots by using a green screen and chroma key software.

When shooting with a green screen, the lighting is extremely important. Green screen lighting needs to match the lighting of the background you will be placing your subject in. The lighting requirements for this are relatively intuitive. You just need to match the key light found on your subject with the background you will add in later. Then adjust the fill light to be similar, as well. You also need green screen lighting on the green screen backdrop. This ensures that no shadows will be present when you place them in a new background. If you follow these guidelines with green screen lights, you will find it significantly more effective.

In Conclusion

Tracking shots are an essential tool in your cinematography kit. They allow you to capture smooth, uninterrupted movements throughout a scene. While they can take a lot of time and effort to master, the work you put in will pay dividends for years to come. By following some basic guidelines, you will find you can create some truly stunning shots. Also, consider incorporating a green screen into your tracking shots, and have fun with it.

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