Tripods may not be incredibly exciting just as they are, but they can help produce incredibly exciting shots.
Do you appreciate anything near the full potential of your tripod? If not, don’t feel bad; imagining the creative and cinematic possibilities of such an unspectacular and uncinematic piece of gear is a challenge. Luckily, Film Riot and Ryan Connolly took the time to come up with eight tripod tips and tricks you can use to help your films to look smoother and more creative.
We’ve summarised Film Riot’s video below, detailing the 8 Tripod tips and techniques they recommend:
- Smoother Pans – elastic bands?
Unless you have the bottomless pocket of Hollywood, you won’t be able to invest in film equipment that produces seamless and smooth pans – but you can use rubber bands. Pulling your tripod handle with one of these acts as a shock absorber, eliminating any of the wobble of the human hand, and producing smoother pans.
- Smoother Tilts – use gravity!
Just loosen the lock on your tilt and allow Newton’s law of gravitation to do the work for you. Of course you will have to adjust you drag to get the speed you want, but this is a zero-cost way of getting super-smooth tilts.
- The Tripod Steadycam?
Just shorten the centre column of your tripod and extend out the legs perpendicular to get a pretty good steady shot. Hold the tripod column near the top and allow gravity to help you stabilise you shot.
This is also helps you steady your shot in post-production, having an initial smooth shot to work with.
- Smooth Low angles:
Just turn your tripod steadycam upside down to get some sweet low-angle shots. You’ll probably remember to rotate the footage in post, as it will be upside down!
- DIY SnorriCam:
Angle the legs of your tripod against your waist while holding the center column, and it acts as a harness similar to those used in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.
- The Tripod Dolly:
Shorten one leg of your tripod and tilt on the other two to create a sweet tripod dolly. Can be used to create dynamic pushes in or out, or you can pan whilst moving to create a beautiful Dutch shot.
Works best with a heavier tripod, like the Benro BV10 used in the video.
- The Tripod jib:
Turn your tripod dolly into a jib by extending the legs and stabilizing them with sandbags. This can be used to create beautiful high-to-low or low-to-high movements. Just make sure the legs are secure, otherwise they will slip.
- Top Down shots:
Strap your tripod to the top step of a ladder and point your camera down.
This creates a Birdseye view shot, which can be very difficult to do smoothly without expensive equipment.
- “Jump Over” shots:
Very common in sports films or commercials; just secure your tripod on top of a couple boxes and pan when your subject jumps over the camera. You can pan the camera in place and it will follow the subject jumping over.
So those are the top 8 (or 9) Tripod tips and techniques you can use to create smooth and dynamic shots, they are all super-cheap so you can try them all out with no more investment than your time well spent.
Thanks again to Film Riot and Ryan Connolly for providing the video.