Filmmaking 101: the most important basics of camera work

Life Style

The camera work in film is one of the most important design elements for creating atmospheric images and creating unforgettable atmospheres. But beginners in particular lack an overview of the various ways of using a camera correctly and in an interesting way. In this article we will therefore deal with the many possibilities of camera work and give an overview of the most important basics.

What exactly is “camera work”?

Before you start familiarizing yourself with the various possibilities of camera work, you should first understand what camera work actually means.

The following definition can help to better understand the term:

Camera work describes the way in which the camera is moved and thus different perspectives follow one another in order to give the viewer a certain atmospheric impression of the events depicted.

Roughly speaking , this means: The term camera work describes how the camera is used to tell a story.

Various design options are used to support certain situations in their desired effect. Of course, your own experience can also help to combine these options individually and to better emphasize the image effect.

Camera work is one of many important elements in the audiovisual design of a film. Of course, light and sound also play a similarly important role. You should therefore not only pay attention to good camera work in order to produce a well-designed film.

Why is camera work so important?

In principle, this question can be answered with just one sentence:

Being able to move a camera in so many different ways makes it possible to deliberately frame images with the aim of supporting the story and the desired atmosphere in a scene.

What’s more, pictures have an impact beyond their borders. This means that the images shown (cropped people, surroundings, certain image sections, etc.) are unconsciously supplemented by the viewer to form a large overall picture.

So it is not only important what can be seen in the picture, but also what happens in the viewer’s head. In other words, what is presented to him as an overall picture .

Possibilities of camera work

If you want to create good pictures, you can fall back on a few basic rules. Of course, these basic rules are not universal solutions.

However , if you want to create professional pictures , you should know all the possibilities. This is the only way to fully concentrate on the design and statements of the images. And that, in turn, has a positive effect on the film as a whole.

The series of articles mainly deals with the most basic possibilities of camera work. Topics such as setting sizes or set construction are not covered in the series of articles.

The basic points on the subject of camera work are:

The choice of camera

The choice of camera often determines the various options for camera work. Because not everything can professionally implemented with a SLR. So the choice of camera is often more than just a question of money.

Pan and tilt

Panning or tilting is probably one of the most well-known design elements in camera work and is indispensable for every film project.


Although zooms are not popular in film, zooming is also one of the possibilities of camera work. The zoom is a recognized design tool, especially in the TV and documentary sectors.

Tracking shots

Tracking shots are now an integral part of every film. It is therefore impossible to imagine the possibilities of camera work without them. It doesn’t matter in which genre they use – the use of tracking shots is and remains one of the most important possibilities of camera work.


The Steadycam (also known as a tripod) is a complex mounting system for freely movable cameramen and camerawomen. By counterbalancing the camera (using counterweights), it is possible to give the viewer the impression that the camera is gently floating. The steadycam is used in almost every genre these days.

Camera crane

The camera crane enables complex camera movements at lofty heights. This enables unique recordings in which (as an example) the camera can rise from ground level to 20m in a few seconds – and without jerking. The camera crane gives an overview of what is happening.

The handheld camera

The hand-held camera conveys a subjective image and creates the impression that the viewer is in the middle of the action. The handheld camera works mainly in action scenes.

The subjective camera

The subjective camera gives the viewer the feeling of seeing the action through the eyes of the actor. She always tries to convey a very real atmosphere. The “voyeuristic camera” also belongs to the subjective camera. Go for more here.

The camera drone

The camera drone (or just “drone”) has now become established on most film sets. Because apart from the low costs compared to the Cineflex for helicopters, even the average camera drones deliver unique images and thus enhance every film production.

Creativity: create visual effects

If you are familiar with camera work, you can create specific image effects in a targeted manner. But the “shutter effect” or the combination of different means of camera work can also create impressive effects. The effects work in a targeted manner.


There are enough camera options.

But only those who know all these possibilities can fully concentrate on the design and the statements of the pictures. It is therefore particularly important to be aware of all the possibilities during pre-production.

In addition , if you know all the rules, you can consciously break them. This in turn opens up new possibilities for image design.