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Handheld Tracking Shot Advice (5 replies and 5 comments)

hmcwaters
4 weeks ago
hmcwaters 4 weeks ago

Hi Roger and forum members,

I'm shooting a narrative film and we've opted for a handheld camera style.

The director and I have looked at a number of films to find the right 'level' of handheld - two differing styles we've look at are, The Wrestler which I think has a very active and frenetic camera and Jarhead which feels more subtle and controlled in the handheld work. Both films are amazing and each camera work fits with the story but it relation to the film I'm shooting, we'll be leaning more towards the controlled and steady handheld camera operating.

My question to Roger and any other experienced cinematographers or operators on here is, when doing 'long' tracking shots do you ever employ a dolly, platform or some other device/technique to help keep a more stable shot while still operating handheld? Any tips, tricks, examples would be most welcome.

Thanks is advance.

Alejandro
4 weeks ago
Alejandro 4 weeks ago

I saw a few camera operators using a rickshaw for handled long tracking shots. Never try myself, but looks like a fast and good solution for this kind of shots.

simon m
4 weeks ago

I've seen DP's sitting in a wheel chair being pushed to get a steady tracking shot also.

Alejandro
4 weeks ago

Yes that can work too.

Roger Deakins
4 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 4 weeks ago

That is a hard one to answer without knowing the length, angle and speed of the shot. I have used a 'rickshaw' and a 'wheelchair' for a fast pulling shot, which is the more difficult shot to make at speed. For a slow pulling shot, a follow shot or a side shot I would shoot with the camera on my shoulder.

hmcwaters
3 weeks ago

I'll be shooting a few different angles - MID & CU pulling, WIDE profile, and probably a following shot. Most would be at walking pace (similar speed to the below scene from Jarhead (see ref. below) at 1hrs, 4mins and probably some faster walking pace shots as well. Do you remember if you were walking, using a rickshaw, or something else for this scene?

I think the rickshaw would be the ideal tool for my shoot as it would give me a slightly steadier shot than I may be able to achieve walking handheld or at least for the faster walking pace. Our location is quite remote so we may have to improvise if a proper grip rickshaw isn't available within a resealable distance.

polariser101
3 weeks ago

Sir Roger, for which film did you use a rickshaw?

hmcwaters
3 weeks ago
hmcwaters 3 weeks ago

Jarhead - 1hr, 4mins

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Screenshot-2020-07-10-at-12.26.58.png
Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

I (and Scott Sakamoto on 2nd camera) shot 'Jarhead' with an Arri 535 on my shoulder or, for the running shots, with an Arri 11C, using the camera as a 'point and shoot', without the eyepiece. I think we made one shot where I was sitting on an ATV for a section of running and then I jumped off with the camera and continued the shot. That would have been with the 11C as well.

hmcwaters
3 weeks ago

Operating in the heat and sand must have been tough! Props to you both on an amazing job! Thank you for the insight on the handheld camera work in Jarhead, it’s both educational and interesting.

Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

I was a little younger then!

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