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Tracking Shot

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What Is a Tracking Shot?

A tracking shot is a camera movement technique where the camera physically moves alongside the action. This type of shot is often used to add an element of dynamism to the scene and create a sense of smoothness and continuity between shots.

Tracking shots are usually done using specialized equipment such as cranes, dollies, Steadicams, or gimbals, which allow for greater precision and control when filming. Shallow focus can also be used to help create more interesting compositions during these shots, as well as create more depth within the frame by utilizing various depths of field.

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Why Is It Important in Filmmaking? – Composition

Using a tracking shot can help composers create dynamic and visually interesting images when shooting a scene. It is an important tool in filmmaking that offers cost efficiency and produces the cinematic effect filmmakers seek. Here are four reasons why tracking shots are an essential part of filmmaking:

1. Camera Movement – Tracking shots allow for smooth camera movement, which can add to the narrative of a scene or enhance its visual interest.

2. Depth Perception – They provide depth perception by incorporating multiple elements into one frame, such as foreground and background objects.

3. Establishing Shots – Tracking shots can be used for establishing shots, creating an overall view of a location or environment to set the tone for other scenes in the film.

4. Immersion – Lastly, they create immersion by providing viewers with the experience of being physically present in a particular space or time period within the film’s universe.

Overall, tracking shots are invaluable components of filmmaking that offer creative freedom and cost efficiency while also producing cinematic effects that draw viewers into stories on-screen.

Brief History – Camera Movement

Camera movement has been an integral part of filmmaking since the early days of motion pictures. Tracking shots are a type of camera movement in which the camera moves parallel to the subject it is capturing. This can be done manually by a camera operator, or through mechanized means such as a dolly track or crane.

The introduction of tracking shots dates back to 1915 with D.W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, using large cranes for panning and zooming. After this, filmmakers started experimenting with different ways of creating dynamic compositions. Zoom shots were popularized in 1969 with Stanley Kubrick’s iconic opening shot from 2001: A Space Odyssey and crane shots became commonplace in films during the 1970s as they allowed directors to create more elaborate movements around their subjects.


In conclusion, camera movement has been a critical part of storytelling since the early days of cinema and continues to be an essential part of creating compelling visuals. Tracking shots are one of the most useful staging techniques used in filmmaking as they can convey emotion, set the tone, and keep the plot pacing suspenseful.

Tracking shots provide filmmakers with much-needed flexibility when creating their films and should always be considered when determining how best to tell your story visually!


What Types of Camera Equipment Are Needed for a Tracking Shot?

To capture a tracking shot, you need to set up a dolly and frame the shots. The camera should be securely attached on the dolly for smooth motion. Also, track rails or curved tracks may be needed when the camera is moving with a subject.

How Do You Plan for a Tracking Shot?

Planning a tracking shot requires strategically considering the logistics of the scene, such as camera placement and movement, lighting setups, and any special equipment needed. Paying attention to detail will ensure a successful shoot.

What Techniques Can Be Used to Achieve a Smooth Tracking Shot?

You can achieve a smooth tracking shot by carefully planning the lighting setup and camera angles. Utilize techniques such as dolly shots, crane shots, or Steadicam to capture motion within each shot. Make sure your equipment is properly balanced and rigged before shooting.

What Are Some Creative Ways to Use a Tracking Shot?

You can use storyboarding techniques and camera angles to create creative tracking shots. Experiment with different camera movement speeds, overlapping action, or having the camera panning from one subject to another. Think outside the box and try something new!

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filming a Tracking Shot?

Avoid over-lighting your set when filming a tracking shot; make sure the setup complements the camera’s movement. Also, ensure the camera remains steady and moves slowly to prevent motion blur.