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Nelson JJ Flores

Operating Whip Pans or Quick Landing Shots

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Hi everybody,

I wanted to know what techniques are effective when it comes to whip panning or when you quickly have to move the camera towards the direction of a character or object; whether on tripod or handheld?

Practicing helps I know, but has anyone ever used a method where they improved their accuracy when landing on the shot? For example the BTS for La La Land where the op is going back and forth between two people. He's amazingly accurate so I want to improve my skills to get to that level eventually.

 

 

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A fluid head set to the stiffest settings helps with fast whip pans. Of course, the heavier the camera + head, the stronger the legs need to be; otherwise, the tripod would move!

A geared head can help a lot with this because you can control the "sensitivity" of the gears.

The key with a stiff fluid head is the ability to stop the camera almost instantly. The stiffer it is, the faster it'll stop...of course, you'll have to push harder and really nail the landing.

(Also, Ari Robbins, SOC [the operator in the video] is a legend)

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Thanks AJ, I have yet to see the entire film so I have to see how he manages, but I'm just so impressed with the timing and the precision he makes.

I just realized the amount of ball busters on the sticks so it makes sense what you said.

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I find the key with kind of pans that Ari is doing there is to lower the drag in the head so that it is not fighting you when you whip across, but it’s not so low that you can’t stop the move smoothly. If you take too much out, the head will slop around all over the place when you try to stop the pan. A little trial and error will help you arrive at the right setting.

Body posture is also crucial. You’re basically pivoting between two points that you can’t see until they appear in your viewfinder. You need to have a fixed point of reference. I like to plant my feet so that I can twist from one end of the pan to the other without moving them.You can see Ari doing the same thing in the video. Note that he’s also using the matte box bars as a second pan handle. This helps you keep the camera movement exactly tied to your body movement. Then it’s just a case of practicing the move until you start to get used to the position your body needs to be in for both frames.

Lastly, you need to not think about it, just kind of feel it. I find if I try to consciously analyze the move, I’ll get it wrong.

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As above .. I definitely  wouldn't set the head to the stiffest settings for whip pans ..  sort of defeating the purpose..    low not not off..   and  body position where you don't have to move your feet or least possible ..  in this example he's working off a monitor .. definitely helping .. using the viewfinder I think this 180 degree shot would be pretty much impossible body movement wise ..  and grab those rods ..  ! .. another point of contact 

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On 8/8/2020 at 1:49 AM, AJ Young said:

A geared head can help a lot with this because you can control the "sensitivity" of the gears.

 

Even in the highest gear, I think you would struggle to pan a geared head that fast. An Arrihead takes 9.5 turns of the wheel in 3rd gear to pan 180°. That’s a lot do in just over a second.

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It’s HARD. Really hard. I’d always suggest shooting a little wider than your final frame, so that you can crop-in and finesse the end of the pan in post.

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10 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Even in the highest gear, I think you would struggle to pan a geared head that fast. An Arrihead takes 9.5 turns of the wheel in 3rd gear to pan 180°. That’s a lot do in just over a second.

I stand corrected! 🙂

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1 hour ago, Mark Kenfield said:

It’s HARD. Really hard. I’d always suggest shooting a little wider than your final frame, so that you can crop-in and finesse the end of the pan in post.

I think Ari has said that it may have been reframed a little in post. It’s also possible that the sequence is comprised of multiple takes. Whip pans are an excellent place to hide cuts, after all.

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