How to get awesome tracking shots with any tripod

Every indie filmmaker dreams of the perfect tracking shot and has to realize that using a steadicam or a jib needs a lot of training. Another factor is space and mobility: If you are all alone travelling through the nature or just don’t have the muscles to carry around a camera crane that kind of movement is impossible to get with another rig.

A while ago we had the Canon T5i / 700D for 24 hours and while filming a cinematic look video in the forest I thought about how to make the shots look more interesting and different from what we previously had done.

I came up with the idea of pushing the camera with the tripod forwards to and object. It looked interesting but it just looked a regular shot from a slider so I panned the tripod head up and down, left and right while moving the tripod forwards and backwards. The shots immediately had a certain magic and some kind of mystery because they were somehow different.
I don’t want to take away too much so make sure to watch the quick “instruction” below with some samples on how you can achieve a special looking tracking shot without fancy gear.

As I said at the end of the video, don’t get caught up by some expensive (new motorized) tools that you can’t afford. If you want to do something new and different just go out there and shoot something. The biggest fear for many people is still the barrier to actually practice their skills. But if you do you will learn that technical limitation isn’t your enemy. Because we didn’t had a crane with us I had the idea of trying something new. I know a lot of people who have all the gear I could only dream of but they don’t know how to use nor do they need it. I made the experience that only taking gear with me I can actually carry by myself is a good way of staying creative (you shouldn’t do that on a paid job ?).

That doesn’t mean a slider or a steadicam is something I wouldn’t want to use but every shot has its own style in terms of setting and all the technical aspects. I wouldn’t shoot a film only with one piece of gear because the best tracking shot gets boring if you’re using it all the time!

Written by Moritz Janisch