Shaky camera

Shaky camera

Shaky camera is a cinematographic technique where stable image techniques are dispensed with on purpose. It gives a film sequence an ad-hoc, news, or documentary feel. It suggests unrehearsed filming of reality in a situation where stable image techniques cannot be applied (this situation may or may not really apply). Thus a sense of dynamics is provided at the cost of the traditional objective of showing as "well" as possible the people/objects/action being filmed.


Traditionally, still and motion photography have relied on firm, stable mountings for a jitter-free image. Great effort is spent to obtain a perfectly stable image. [ [ Nulph, Dr. Robert G. "The End of the Shaky Camera". "Videomaker", March 2004.] ] Many techniques are used:

* heavy tripods
* sandbags on tripod cross beams for additional mass and stability
* dolly tracks/rails (motion picture)
* cranes (motion picture)
* gyroscopes
* cable release (still photography)
* optical image stabilization technology
* electronic image stabilization technology
* steadicam mechanism (motion picture)

Occasionally, movement of the camera can create interesting effects. A technique taught in most basic still photography classes involves following a moving object with the lens. The resulting effect is that the object is clear, but the background is smeared across the image. The impression left to the viewer is that of action and movement.

Likewise, in motion pictures, camera movement can be used effectively by cinematographers. Panning can suggest a wide open expanse; zooming can give detail in the midst of context, shaky camera implies live, unrehearsed action.


Several movies have been criticized for excessive shaky camera technique. The second and third installments of the Bourne action movie franchise directed by Paul Greengrass have been categorized as such. [ [ Ebert, Roger. "Shake, rattle, and Bourne!" "", August 16, 2007.] ] Indeed, many people report that shaky camera in the Bourne series has reached beyond distraction, to the point of inducing nausea. [ [ "Does Restless, Jerky Bourne-style Camera Work Make You Sick?" "".] ] The same applies for the films "Cloverfield" (2008) [ [ Dellorto, Danielle. " Scary movie making viewers sick" "CNN", January 24, 2008] ] and "Friday Night Lights" (2004) [ [ Fletcher, Clint. "Friday Night Lights (2004)"., October 10, 2004.] ] .

Perhaps the most famous film to use the shaky camera technique is "The Blair Witch Project" (1999). The technique was intended to make the film look like amateur camera footage. In many theaters, this was so severe that staff were ordered to hand out motion sickness bags with the term "pussy" written on the side to those who wished to see the movie.Fact|date=January 2008

Danish director Lars von Trier is also known to often use shaky camera in his movies. The Dogme 95 movement he co-created in 1995 was partly based on such technique.

Notable films

* "Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)
* "The Last Broadcast" (1998)
* "The Blair Witch Project" (1999)
* "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004)
* "Children of Men" (2006)
* "The Condemned" (2007)
* "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007)
* "The Kingdom" (2007)
* "REC" (2007)
* "Cloverfield" (2008)
* "Diary of the Dead" (2008)
* "Hancock" (2008)

ee also

*Pan and scan
*Dutch angle


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