We have a few tricks up our sleeve here at KreativElement, especially in the video department. We are always aiming to create and explore new tactics to make the best products for our clients. One thing I’ve always loved reading about online though is what gear other photographers and videographers are using to achieve dynamic and interactive shots. I also find it incredibly interesting to see how other creators can achieve similar looking shots without a specific piece of gear. Back when I worked in TV, we didn’t have a huge production budget and had to “make due” and DIY quite a bit – I remember one such instance where we made a dolly track out of plastic tubing and some roller blade wheels. Long gone are those days, and thankfully here at KE we have a few different options to achieve a dynamic tracking shot.
What is a tracking shot?
A tracking shot is where the camera moves alongside the subjects it is filming. The camera is mounted to either a rail system or a dolly with wheels and the camera is pushed along a track while the image is filmed. This technique is often used to follow a subject that’s moving along a scene, such as a vehicle driving down a road or a person walking through a scene. Remember that scene in the first season of True Detective that follows Russ through a gang neighborhood at night as he goes through several homes and ultimately ends with him jumping into a car? It’s a six minute tracking shot with no cuts and no edits and it is spectacular if you haven’t seen it. I highly recommend that entire first season, and even though season two received a lot of hate I still liked it. Here’s a really cool article on how that shot was made from episode four in season one of True Detective: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2014/mar/17/true-detective-cary-fukunaga-tracking-shot. Tracking shots are a great way to show a lot about a scene with very minimal editing. At KreativElement we don’t usually have a big set to work on when filming with small businesses, so our purposes for using track shots are somewhat simpler and are just another facet to showcase a space in a new way.
What do we use to achieve a tracking shot?
One piece of gear we bring to almost every shoot we go on is our slider dolly track (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=820611&gclid=CM6W2rKmy80CFQIcaQod5PAELw&is=REG&ap=y&m=Y&c3api=1876%2C91438732682%2C&A=details&Q=). This is a smaller rail system we use for our MRK III and Mini Ursa cameras to achieve a tracking shot in a confined space. Since we work and shoot inside a lot of the businesses, this smaller rail system works great to capture the look we are going for. There is a small screw that mounts the bottom of the camera to the sliding plate, and the rail system itself can sit on two c stands, a table, the floor – pretty much any stable surface. The versatility of this slider dolly lets us capture movement horizontally, angled, and vertically. Overall it’s a really handy piece of gear that we’ve used quite a bit. We recently used it at EQ Hair School while filming for an overview video. I’ve pulled a couple of those to showcase below: