How To Use Your Camera Strap To Get Professional-Looking Videos
If you've been getting into videography and you're looking for ideas on how to get even better shots, here's how you can use a piece of gear that you most likely already have to do it: your camera strap.
Not all of us have professional gear like tripods or gimbals to get super steady shots, but most of us would have a camera strap, and it turns out that there's actually much more the strap can do instead of just being a tool to carry your camera around.
First, let's talk about your stance. The camera strap acts as another point of anchor for you, so you have another point of stabilisation. You'll want to make sure the strap is adjusted in such a way that when your camera is at forearm's length away from your body, the strap is tight around the neck and has tension. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder-width apart for the most stability. Once all that's done and you're ready to start taking walking shots, keep in mind that you don't want to be stomping up and down. Keep your body weight on the balls of your feet so that you can transfer your weight seamlessly from one foot to another.
There are four camera movements you can execute here: tilting & panning, dolly, slider and parallax.
Let's start with the tilting movement. The name itself is pretty self-explanatory, your camera will be moving either down from the top or up from the bottom. As mentioned previously, remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and your camera should be at the centre of your body. The most crucial part to take note of is to ensure that at any given point in time during the shot, your camera strap must be tight.
Something that really helped us and that we like a lot is the articulating screen on the Sony A7C that we were using in this video. If your camera can do that as well, it would be pretty helpful as you can keep the camera close to your core and still get the shot.
As for panning, the concept is pretty much identical to tilting. The only difference is that instead of tilting the camera up and down, you're moving the camera left and right. The one tip we have here is that you don't want to move your shoulders too much. The movement should be coming from your hips to ensure the most stable shots.
Tilting and panning are pretty basic, so here's a shot that's a bit more exciting: the dolly shot.
You still want to take note of the things we mentioned before but this time, instead of going up and down or left and right, you're now using your legs to move the camera in or out. Keep in mind that you're not going to move your arms for this shot because your arms should always be locked and ensuring the camera strap is tight for stability.
You'll want to put one foot in front of the other, shoulder-width apart, and depending on whether you want to dolly in or out, you'll put the weight of your body on either your rear leg or the front. Keeping your body as stable as possible, slowly shift the weight of your body onto the other foot, almost like you're doing a lunge.
You don't want to be spreading your feet too far apart for this shot, because you might be compromising your balance and without balance, your shot might become shaky. Another reason why you don't want your feet too far apart is that when you're moving forward for a dolly in shot, your camera will dip slightly in height due to how you're bending your knees. The further forward you're going, the more the camera will dip, and that's not what we want for this shot.
If you're up for more of a challenge though, why not try walking? This is where the whole "ninja walking" concept comes into play: put the weight of your body on the balls of your feet and walk forward or backwards with your knees bent. This move will take some practice for sure, even we don't get perfectly still shots 100% of the time when walking.
This dolly shot will work best when you have a subject within a frame, for example, through a window.
For the slider movement, it's quite similar to the dolly. The dolly involves moving your weight from front to back or back to front, while the slider basically moves your weight from side to side. Like before, get your feet shoulder-width apart and frame up your end shot first, before finding something to block the frame for the reveal of the subject. Once in position, slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other, sideways. The difference between the slider and panning is that panning is more of a pivot on a spot, while the slider keeps your body squared up and you're only moving your weight from one leg to the other.
You don't only have to look for static objects to block the shot, however, even using objects like flowers could help make the shot more interesting as you have a foreground that's moving to add dynamics into your shot.
For the fourth and final movement, we'll be doing the parallax shot with a lion statue, which will be our subject. The shot is essentially a combination of the slider and the panning move, but the difference is that the subject will be kept in the centre of the frame at all times.
Remember to keep the camera strap tight, and you'll want to spread your feet out like before with the slider, but this time, we'll be combining it with the movement of your waist.
These shots really work well if you're looking to use them for your b-rolls, product videography and such to introduce a sense of depth rather than making the subject or product feel like a two-dimensional item.
Aside from these four camera moves though, another great tip for stabilising your video would be to use Warp Stabiliser in your post-processing workflow if you're dealing with just a bit of shake in your videos.
Turning on image stabilisation in the camera will definitely also be a great help, and we did take full advantage of the five-axis IBIS on the Sony A7C. Additionally, if your camera can shoot at higher frame rates, you could shoot at that and slow it down in post-processing.
With these great tips, you might want to try your hand at Sony's Alpha Creators 4.0 contest for Singaporeans, where the best video and photo entries could win up to S$3,000 in prizes! More information about the Sony Alpha Creators 4.0 contest is available on Sony's website here.
Content by Ryan Mamba