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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 11 of 39

Movement with Video Tripods

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

11. Movement with Video Tripods

Lesson Info

Movement with Video Tripods

Let's talk about the other tripod. Okay, so when we talk about like a tripod, here is a miniature photographic tripod, okay? So, this is a mini tripod. We'll just put it on top of here. Some of the major differences between like a still tripod and a video tripod and I know this might be review for a lot of you guys at home but I think it's so important to understand the tools you're working with and understand major differences because I know so many photographers that tell me, "Victor, I spent $700 on my fancy tripod, "carbon fiber tripod and I really don't wanna buy "another tripod if I don't have to." And I say, "Absolutely, don't buy if you don't have to "but there will be a time where you're gonna want one." So here's the thing, if I'm uneven on a still tripod and I level up my ball head, I can get one image still perfectly. But the minute I try to pan it, my horizon's all janky, right? First thing here is most video tripods have what's called a ball bowl combination. Which means,...

if my legs are uneven or I'm on an uneven surface, I have the ability to level my head out and then still maintain a level horizon if I pan. That's the first thing. Another thing here is still tripods, they're great, they're lightweight, easy to carry, I mean this one folds up and it fits into a messenger bag. But there's no tension in it and if I loosen it, it just flops over. Now, if you're only gonna get static shots and you're never gonna pan and you're never gonna tilt, it's fine. But at some point, camera's gotta move, right? So the camera moves and you have the ability to do what's called panning with tension and tilting with tension. It becomes a whole different story. So on the side of this head here, we've got a couple dials. This is what we call fluid drag and what it does, if you increase the drag, it increases the level of tension that presses back on you. So I could feasibly dial in a lot of drag on this and do a nice, slow tilt with very little effort. The panning is the same way. I can crank up the drag and then pan it and not have to worry about, "Oh, am I panning at the right speed?" Because the resistance that it's giving me is enough resistance just so that if I lightly move it, it's gonna move at the same pace and same speed because it's kicking back on me. Now one of the features that you actually pay for in a video tripod is something called counterbalance. And counterbalance is interesting. I like to compare it, because I like little funny analogies, I really like funny analogies. So I compare a counterbalance to a little, little person inside of the head that does the heavy lifting for you. So it's a person that lives inside the head that goes, "Oh, you're gonna put 13 pounds on this, "you're gonna dial in counterbalance, "I'll take away half the weight for you." It's like an assist. It's like a spotter. Somebody's gonna help you lift weights and spot you. So this guy is a 17.5 pound fully capacity head. So it can take up to 17.5 pounds. If I dial in one level of counterbalance, it's gonna enact, engage a spring that will assist me if I stack a lot of weight on this. So think 70 to 200, think recorder, monitor, that adds a lot of weight. And if you try to move the camera and it's not properly counterbalanced, it's not gonna be a good story 'cause it'll just flop all over the place on you. So by dialing in appropriate counterbalance and appropriate drag, you can actually execute, let me see here, execute a really wonderful tilting movement and never have to apply a lot of effort to it. Now, there are a number of different tripods out there that have all of these features and none of them. Some of them just have fixed drag on a pan and fixed drag on the tilt. Some of them have variable drag on the tilt but fixed pan on the pan. So just pick your tripod based off of the knowledge that I'm giving you because there will be price differences for all of them and you're gonna wanna pick the tripod that fits best for you. Now, one thing that I do wanna kinda key you in on is two things. A lot of people don't know why these things slide. They're like, "Victor, it just makes no sense to me "why these plates are so long and why they have to slide." So, if you have a longer lens or add more weight, where does the center of gravity for the camera go? It goes forward. If you're able to slide the camera back, the weight of the camera now is actually resting upon the head properly so that when you enact counterbalance, that counterbalance is actually being effective. So you'll see a lot of people mount this plate onto the foot of their longer lenses because that's where the center of gravity is on their lenses and then they'll slide that camera back or forward based upon where that weight's gonna be. And all that does it make it easier for them to work. It makes it easier for them to pan and tilt. If you've ever done any wildlife photography and you've worked with a gimbal, it's the same concept, it's the same concept. Okay, a couple of little known tricks about most video heads is this. So, a lot of people, so if you look at the base of my camera right now, can you see how that knob is just barely clearing the base of my camera? If I didn't have this plate underneath it, which I'll talk about tomorrow. If I didn't have that plate underneath it, this knob would be hitting. So I'm gonna turn it so you guys can see it. Most video heads have a functionality that allows you to do what's called kipping. So if you actually hit something, you can pull that knob out and ratchet it. And kind of just keep pulling and keep ratcheting so you're always being able to tighten, even if you're hitting the bottom of the camera. Most of the knobs on this tripod will kip, see how it kips here? And why does it kip? Oh, it's because if I were to take this head off the tripod, a lot of people go, "Well, Victor, you're gonna take the head off the tripod, "and all of the sudden you've got this weird little ball, "how does that fit on anything you're gonna put it on?" Well, this manufacturer's kinda cool. If you lock off the pan and you tilt, now you've got a flat based head. So now I can take this head, I can put it onto a slider and now I have this ability to kind of work and then oh hey, wait, if I'm on something flat and I'm hitting something for some reason, hey, I can kip down. So that's why all these kipping things exist. It allows you to ratchet. Any questions so far? How we doing? First of all, can you clarify, were you saying that they kip, K-I-P? K-I-P. I stole it from the type of knob that actually does that. So in the motion world, there is a little knob that's called a kip handle and it just became part of my vernacular, that it kips. Because the kip handle actually does that. [Female Assistant] So that's a Victor word? I don't know if it's a Victor word or if I stole it from some of my friends who are in the industry. Well let's all take it and run with it everybody. Okay, so moving to past that tripod. So, I know, it's a tripod, right, and you spend a lot of time talking about a tripod and it seems so silly to be talking so much about a tripod but a lot of us haven't ever had experience with a video tripod and so it's really important. Now last thing here, and I took the head off for a reason 'cause I didn't wanna drop it. You're gonna notice that the way that video people and motion guys deploy their sticks is completely antithetical to what we know to be true as photographers. So in photography, how would you deploy your tripod? You go top section first, right? Big section first. Well, motion deploys their tripod legs bottom section first. Here's why. So, let's make believe I have this guy and it's got a camera, a $2,000 lens on it, a monitor, and a bunch of other doohickeys. And if I'm extended from the top section, I now have to reach down and clip all of these while trying to support the weight of that camera. Whereas opposed to now, I can undo the top sections and lift and now I can actually manage the weight of this camera a lot more easily. As opposed to, okay, well I gotta, you don't wanna do it that way. So it's just something that I've learned over the course of the past few years of people laughing at me and making fun of me for using tripods incorrectly in a motion shoot. And I'm giving that you to. That one's free to you, I'll charge you for the next one. So let's look at some footage. (upbeat music) Dude just wants a Coke, right? All the sudden, when you start moving the camera, it changes. (upbeat music) Ah-ha. It's not that one was better than the other, it's one felt differently. On that last one, I felt like I was in the room watching him as he walked in, watching him, kinda following his actions. Whereas before, I felt like I was just observing. One instance, okay, so let's take a look here. In this one, it literally feels like you're in the room because you're looking and moving and you're actually making the movements that you would typically make if you were watching somebody and a Coke machine. Whereas opposed to the one before it, he walks in, and it's just cut after cut after cut, single static shots. Is it that the first one kind of feels like you said, like you were observing them, the second one it felt like you were that person. Yeah, almost were it, a part of it, that kind of thing. It's not that one is better. And I wanna get away from that. It's not that one is better, it's that one becomes a little bit different. It feels different. So if that's what you're going for is the second video, that's what you should do. If what you're going for is the first video, that's what you do. If you want people to feel disassociated from the action, you make it static. If you want them to feel like they are a part of the action, you move the camera. We go back to that last question so how much is too much motion? When it deviates from what your initial intent and purpose was when you wanted to do that, when you wanted to move the camera in the first place. So question was, how do I know when I've moved the camera too much or when is too much and what percentage can I move the camera? Well, you can move the camera in so far as much as it doesn't deviate from the initial purpose or intent of the film. If you want the viewer to be a part of it, you move the camera. If you don't want them to be a part of it, you don't. Well and I love the idea that we need to know what effect our camera movements have on people because it's not just a question of how am I going to show this thing, it's how I show this is going to have an effect and we need to be consciously deciding what effect we want. Exactly, exactly, and that's the fun. When I talk about falling in love with the process, that's what I'm talking about. Because you could film this exact same video five, six, seven different ways and add motion in the beginning, end, middle, it doesn't matter. And it's gonna turn out different, it's gonna feel differently every single time. That's what we're getting at. I want you to think about the process. I want you to fall in love with the process because that's gonna make you better. It's gonna make you so much better. So let's see here. Let's watch this one one more time. He comes in and it just moves, right? Be a part of it.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

If you own a DSLR camera, you already own a powerful filmmaking tool. Ready to learn how to use it? Join CreativeLive and Victor Ha for a course that will cover the core principles of capturing video with your DSLR.

Through hands-on demos - including how to create compelling video interviews - Victor will guide you through the core techniques of DSLR filmmaking. You’ll learn how to apply the compositional skills of still photography to taking video. You’ll also learn about how to navigate the video-capturing features of your DSLR, choose the right gear for your filmmaking needs, and incorporate audio into your shoots. From framing shots to producing simple projects to spatial relationships, the skills you gain in this course will leave you ready and inspired to create high-quality, engaging film projects.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution

Pre-Production Planner


Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!