Creating movement in your videos is easier said than done. If you’re like many videographers, you’re probably working independently with a limited production budget and high demands, which means you have to look for creative ways to shoot dynamic videos.
One straightforward way to do this is to introduce movement into your videos with a camera slider.
A camera slider is an affordable track with a movable carriage you can mount your camera onto. When your camera is in position, you can shoot a host of new shots with different types of angles and movements.
A camera slider was the first piece of extra video gear I owned aside from a tripod. It wasn’t too long ago when gimbals were unaffordable, and drones were not available to consumers. So, if you wanted to shoot panning shots or introduce other types of movement into your video on a budget, a camera slider was the way to go.
But before you purchase a camera slider and start experimenting with different types of shots, here are five tips for shooting better-looking slider footage.
1. Add elements in the foreground and background
When it comes to capturing slider footage, the absolute best thing you can do is add elements in both the foreground and background.
Here’s the deal: The slider you’re working with probably isn’t that long. You may have a camera slider that is 2–3 feet or shorter, which means you do not have a lot of track to work with.
To make the most of the track you do have, you need an element in the foreground of your shot. When you have an item in the foreground, the movement of your slider—even if minimal—will be visible and the momentum of your action will transfer to the entire frame.
2. Tilt your camera
It’s easy to get tired of shooting the same lateral slider movements over and over again. Left to right. Right to left. And so on.
To fight through this lack of variety, there’s one adjustment you can make to this shot to add some flair: tilt your camera directly up or down by using the tripod head on the slider.
You need to try this technique sometime—especially tilting your camera upward. This one adjustment will give you a majestic, awe-inspiring, and regal shot.
3. Get a tripod and slider
A dull yet essential part of your camera slider setup is the tripod. If your slider setup isn’t steady, it’s useless.
I’ve experimented with many tripods for sliders, and I’m glad I’ve found one that is affordable, portable, and sturdy. My tripod of choice for setting up my camera slider is the Davis & Sanford Provista 7518B Tripod with the V18 Fluid Head. For only $150, you can get a reliable video tripod with a fluid head that can support up to 15 pounds.
The tripod we had before wasn’t cutting it with our setup. So, we started using the Davis & Sanford tripod, and it has made a world of difference.
At the moment, one of the sliders we’re working with most often is the Cinevate Duzi 4. This slider is 2 feet in length. We mount a Manfrotto Fluid Head on top of it with an URSA Mini Pro, V-Mount battery, and a Rokinon cinema lens, which makes for a massive setup.
4. Be mindful of your setup
My camera slider setup is something I had to learn the hard way. In retrospect, what I’m about to share with you sounds obvious, but it eluded me when I first started using sliders.
So, what was it?
Well, when you set up your camera slider, make sure that your slider DOES NOT run parallel with your tripod head. If you do, then you will drastically reduce its strength.
If your tripod release plate runs north or south, make sure that your slider is running east or west to maximize its strength.
5. Shoot slow and steady
Online, you can find a ton of great tutorials that will show you many different ways you can use camera slider movements. Out of everything you watch or read, I suggest you use slow, deliberate, and basic moves.
There’s a lot being done with sliders that feels gimmicky. But, at the end of the day, if you’re going for a smooth, cinematic shot, then there’s nothing that can replace slow, deliberate, and basic movements.
Don’t overthink things or feel as if you need to do something elaborate to capture a tremendous looking slider shot. You don’t. Be slow and steady with your movements, and you will get the shot you’re looking for.
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