Wheel chairs and digital tricks

When I imagine a typically filmic shot; grand, smooth movements come to mind. These might be achieved on a budget by using a make-shift dolly. A dolly is a cart, often on rails, that allows the camera to track smoothly along the ground. Unfortunately rental of these can be very high so being inventive is essential. This look can be achieved with the deployment of a wheelchair. What I feel is key to this effect is to ensure you use very slow, subtle movements and ensure you’re tracking along a very smooth surface. A tiled corridor is ideal for this but thick pile carpet or grass, even grass on a putting green is going to stuff this effect. Keeping the angle wide also adds a grand nature to this type of shot and helps reduce any shake.

What is not often done but has worked well in the past for us is to shoot slightly wide in 1080 resolution and then zoom in slightly at the post stage and keyframe the movement. Clearly this is only going to work if your project is for standard definition export but if it is then it’s quite easy to calculate how much you can zoom in without degrading the quality. The image above shows the difference between a 1080 (HD) frame and a 576 (SD) frame, the space highlighted is the area in which you can zoom in. A top tip when achieving this effect is to enable ‘ease in’ and ‘ease out’ on the keyframes. This will better replicate a dolly’s natural movement. These controls are often referred to as Bezier handles. These aren’t hard and fast rules and they might not work in every situation but we have certainly employed them in the past and to great effect.

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