Top Tips on Mastering a Smooth Handheld Shot
Are you trying to get the smoothest handheld shots without spending a bunch of money on equipment? Whether you’re just starting out in filmmaking or you are simply working a low budget film, we’ve got a list of tips for you to master the handheld shot. Follow along on these top tips on mastering a smooth handheld shot to get the most out of your footage.
Shoulder Mount the Camera
One option to get smooth handheld shots is to shoulder mount the camera. We’ve seen this technique come into play since the early days of camera recording and it continues to be a viable option to smooth handheld video shots today. Classic film cameras may be small, but they really aren’t light. Using your shoulder to hoist the forty plus pounds of camera weight up and steady will reduce any unnecessary jitters or shakes that would come from attempting to stabilize the camera with just your arms.
Digital cameras weigh far less, but you can still gain stability in using the shoulder to hold the camera in a balanced, steady manner. You could also use a Long-arm technique to steady the digital camera. This involves using the camera strap around your neck and extending the camera out in front of arms stretched to get the most steadiness out of your shoulder being extended.
Both options will help you to shoot steady footage without requiring any added equipment or stabilization tools.
Use Support Rigs
You’ll find several support rig options to make your camera steadiness work for you. If shooting with a shoulder rig, one end of the camera will be supported by your shoulder while the other is supported by your arms. The rig will alleviate some of the weight from your arm by balancing it on your shoulder.
A rest pillow can also help to adequately support the weight of the camera in your arms. A rest pillow is not ideal if walking with the camera, but can be used if you’re planning to use a tripod for a long scene.
Use an EasyRig
The EasyRig provides handheld cameras a backpack-style rig that supports the camera using the back and hips rather than the shoulder. This makes for extended filming and alleviates the strain on the arms and shoulder. Easyrig is ideal for hip height shots. Adjusting the rig with the press of a button makes this an ideal option that is versatile and loved by many videographers.
Finally, if you don’t have an Easyrig or a shoulder rig to help stabilize your shot, consider a ManCam. This involves holding the matte box with one arm and the camera side handle with the other. Pull the camera into your center of gravity to achieve the maximum steadiness of your handheld shot.
No matter what method you choose to steady your handheld shot, these top tips on mastering a smooth handheld shot will help you in the field. Let us know what works best for you as you master each method.
Science Filmmaking Tips has a great video showing 4 tips for getting a steady handheld shot: