Jib Camera – When a Bit of Magic is Needed

2 min

When it comes to lower budget films and productions, there are many special effects and camera shots that cannot compete with the major Hollywood studios, and their enormous budgets. However, when you need just a little bit of that Hollywood magic and don’t have a major budget, then there are some tricks and techniques that you can use to make a shot have a special look and feel while giving it that professional appearance and power.

One of those techniques that are affordable is known as the jib camera. Basically, the jib camera is a standard film camera that is mounted onto a jib arm and is used for downward or upward sweeping shots as well as rolling shots over obstacles that wouldn’t normally allow a filmmaker to capture. Why are these types of shots special in filmmaking? For starters, they add dimension to the film.

Think about simple shots in major films

Think for a moment about some scenes that you have watched from major motion pictures. These scenes will have a downward or upward sweeping motion as the camera moves around the actors or the scene. At the time that you’re watching it for the first, just enjoying the movie itself, you may not be aware of the camera work behind such a simple effect, but the scene’s dimension is added to and becomes more memorable. Isn’t that what the goal for all filmmakers is? To make the show or movie or short more memorable for the viewers? The way to accomplish that goal is to use effects.

In music, when effects are used and not abused, then the performance, song, or production stands out. The listener won’t necessarily point to a moment in that song and comment on an effect, because if they do then the effect was not incorporated properly, but they will tend to have a more positive impression of the entire composition as a whole. The same holds true in cinematic filming. When a filmmaker uses the effects that he or she has access to effectively, then it has a positive impact on the entire production.

Sweeping views

While some of the major Hollywood productions use cranes and other costly techniques to capture encompassing sweeping panoramas, as well as moving in on characters from an elevated location, the jib camera offers this effect in a much more cost-effective way. Having cameras only moving from floor level to shoulder level is fine for many filming requirements, but when a sweep is added using a jib, then you are incorporating an effect that can’t be emulated in any editing room or virtual studio.

The jib offers the audience a brief moment of a god complex, or the ‘fly on the wall’ effect, being able to move down on the actors and scene, or up and around the scene. This effect will likely be barely noticeable to the average viewer, and not something that they will comment on at the end of the film or show, but it will give the entire production a more Hollywood feel, bringing that magic that Hollywood has captured so well through the years to your production.

Jib cameras require some practice and patience to master, but with the right cameraman at the helm, then you can add that missing element and effect to your production as well.


Download PDF version of this report.

Like it? Share with your friends!

Rick Davis


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *