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7 tips to get the most out of your tripod

Learn about 7 tips to get the most out of your tripod
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Creativity is one of the most important qualities any filmmaker should have. Without it, complex problems that often arise on set get you stuck without a solution. You need to be quick-witted to be able to make do with what you have at your disposal, and one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in most sets is a tripod. There are a couple of tricks

Use rubber bands to get smooth movements

You may think you have a steady hand, but more often than not, there are times in which it is noticeable how shaky and jittery your pulse can get. While pans and tilts are some of the most naturally well-supported movements you can carry out with your tripod, our hand can cause prevent them from being as smooth as they could be. Next time, try using a rubber band around the handle of your tripod and pulling from it to get the swift movement you want.

Tilt down with just the weight of the camera

Again, tilts can be tricky to get right without a noticeable jumpy start, but one way to make this vertical movement more fluid is just letting gravity do its job. When you want to tilt down in a shot, loosen the safety of your tripod head just enough to let the weight of your camera make the movement on its own. Stop the tilt gently by grabbing the handle when you want it to stop.

Use your tripod as a steady-cam

Some tripods are light enough that can be carried in one hand. Depending on how the legs of the tripod open, they can provide enough stabilization for you to try and use it as a steady-cam. Test it out and tweak your technique a bit, it could be useful to you as a steady alternative when you don’t have one readily available.

Hold the tripod against you to create a snorricam effect

The snorricam is a harness-like device that allows cameras to be mounted on an actor so they are facing them. This perspective centered on the subject makes for an effect in which the background and surroundings move, yet the person remains at the center of the frame even if they themselves are moving. You can try holding a small tripod against your torso and keeping it stable to create this same effect, though you’ll probably need to stabilize in post too.

Raise one leg of the tripod to use it as a dolly

One way to recreate a dolly-like movement using a static tripod is to retract one of the legs and secure the other two so you can lean forwards or backwards in one fluid motion. Depending on how long the legs of the tripod are, the movement will appear to cover a longer range or a shorter one, giving in turn a more convincing impression of it being done with an actual dolly.

Shoot top-down shots with just your tripod and a ladder

Top-down shots are precisely what they sound like, and they are easier to replicate than they seem with just a tripod and a ladder. Stretching the legs of your tripod while keeping them together can give you an advantage in creating balance. You want to place the tripod horizontally and facing down on top of the ladder with something to weigh it down and keep it in place.

Get easy jump-over shots with a tripod at floor-level

Similar to top-down shots, jump-over shots are essentially the same except more controllable since the tripod and camera stay closer to the ground. To achieve this type of shot, you need to place the tripod horizontally just a bit above floor level, except this time the camera needs to be facing up. With this setup, you get to control the movement of the camera as well and can follow your subject as he walks or jumps over it fairly easily.

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