A little Ode to Motion Control

Unless you shoot nothing but “run and gun” situations, you have most likely found yourself trying to plan and control your camera movement more or less precisely at some point. Motion control is a huge field within camerawork, important not only for VFX shots. The arrival of varying degrees of motion control in the field of DSLR and smaller camera videography was huge for anyone outside of the professional higher-budget film industry, that still wanted to realise their ideas with great precision and achieve high-end results.

On the most basic of levels, this new generation of lightweight motion control allows you to control your movement remotely. With the small cameras of today, this also means being able to operate quite discreetly, which is an important factor in situations such as wedding ceremonies. Imagine sitting in that church, needing some beautiful shots for the wedding video, and yet being quite an intrusive presence as you walk around with your camera, trying to melt into the background as you capture those essential moments as beautifully as possible. Now imagine you had not only a remote, but a slider and a motion control head, allowing you to move the camera and create visual interest, all the while staying perfectly out of the way. Your only other desire would then be for the system to operate nicely silently!

Another level up, motion control is fantastic for situations that you can anticipate, but are difficult to catch, for instance because your subject (i.e. a car) moves very quickly through the frame. Being able to programme the movement and be sure it executes precisely as planned can be a massive time-saver in terms of the amount of takes you need, ergo also the data you store. Videos for food blogs are another area where this comes very handy, when you want to capture the moment a piping hot dish comes out of the oven, without having to repeat too often and risk the dish looking less fresh.

The final discipline where motion control really shines, relates to VFX and anything needing not only the perfectly planned movement, but also for it to be identically repeatable to be used in compositing.This can really bring fascinating and beautiful effects into films that essentially work with very small budgets.

For ideas or inspiration, check out some of the examples and tutorials we’ve found for you and share some of your own motion control shots in the comments below!

motion control examples:

Rhino EVO motion timelapse reel

pro wedding videographers that make great use of movement, including sliders.

food video tutorial with lighting tips and syrp slider:

featuring ifootage specifically, & very nice! (maybe post as “bonus: more coco tips plus an eqt review”…)