theCameraClass

with award winning documentary team tony wilson and leo sullivan

MORE TIPS FOR FILMAKERS - TRACKING SHOTS

Tip: When walking with people

Always use the lens at the widest end of the zoom and be close to your subject(s). When the lens is wide and the subject big in the foreground the viewer's eyes will be focused on the subject and they will be less aware of camera movement. Having walked through Mangrove swamps in waist high water filming Harry Butler I can vouch for this!
Walk at the same pace as the subjects. Tell them beforehand to walk at their normal pace and that you will walk to their pace. That way there is a 'rhythm' between you and them and the camera movement will be less noticeable.
Remember to get listening cutaways too, as you would with any other 'conversation' sequences!
Think about cutting points. If you are walking along (backwards) shooting two people having a conversation let them know that at some point of their conversation you may stop, but that they should continue on. This way, after something relevant has been said that you feel makes a nice end point to the sequence - you stop, and let them walk out of the frame.
When you stop hold the camera REALLY steady, if only for a second or two. This will make the cut to the next shot so much smoother than cutting from a 'wobbly' picture.
If walking backwards (without someone to guide you) remind your subjects to be aware of your safety and take a 'line' that ensures you don't walk into any obstacles.

Some other useful shots to keep in mind if shooting this type of sequence.

A front-on telephoto shot on the 'long end' of the zoom (use a tripod), with your subjects walking directly to camera, (e.g. with them filling the bottom half of the frame). Depending on your lens you may need to be about 100 metres ahead of them for this. Prearrange signals so they know when to start walking and when to stop and repeat if you don't get it right the first time! This shot can be used either at the head of the walk with some narration, over their first few words or later at some other time during the walk.
Another is a medium-wide shot from the other side of the road. Start with them backed off about 50 metres or so and pan with them till they are adjacent, then let them walk out of frame. If there is some traffic flow between you and them the shot will probably be more interesting and when this is the case keep rolling for a few extra seconds after they have exited the picture. Remember not to 'cross-the-line' (you lose points for this!), so if in the walk you have them walking right to left have them walking right to left in the shot from across the road too.
A shot following behind them is handy too as (not seeing sync) it too can be used at any point.