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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:24 PM   #1
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Odd question About Panning

The other day I had someone ask me a question I was totally caught off guard by.

The question was this: "Is there a preferred direction to pan, right to left, or left to right?"

The person asking wondered if because in this part of the world we read left to right if a left to right pan was more pleasing to our mind as opposed to a left to right one.

The question makes good sense, and I had no clue if this has ever been a subjct of discussion, thought or is someting everyone already knows and I am late to the party.

So ladies and gentlemen, IS there an answer ? I certainly didn't have one, I just said .."well it depends."
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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:29 PM   #2
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A better example than reading (and an ample response) would probably be "Which way do you look when you survey a scene/view? Left to right or right to left?"

I don't think there's an answer to that. personally it depends which side you want to see first.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:35 PM   #3
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The "preferred way" is to do it both ways, with a suitable static (10 seconds) in between so that you (or your editor) have options in post, when available. If you have a static shot for 10 seconds, do a left to right pan, stay static for 10 more seconds, do a right to left pan and then hold the shot, you now have 5 different shots to choose from! Of course, if you are following a specific subject, disregard all of the above.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 11:04 PM   #4
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Back when I was writing my monthly magazine column - I wrote one about camera moves that I called "The Talking Camera" My premise was that EVERY camera move essentially "talks" to your audience.

If you pan left you're essentially saying to the audience "Look, there's something interesting over here to the left that I want you to see"

The language extends to pushes and pulls "Look, in this scene, concentrate on this interesting element" or "Look at how this interesting element relates to this bigger scene around it."

Trucks and tracking shots become "Come with me and let me show you something over here to the left (or right)"

The real point of the exercise is that the statement has to be TRUE.

If you pan RIGHT and there's NOTHING INTERESTING over to the right - then the move is stupid. Shut up. Frame a static shot. And move on.

So with my system, you ALWAYS know whether to pan left or right. Because you always pan toward SOMETHING as or more interesting than what you're showing them when the shot begins..

The exception, I suppose, is stuff like a graduating class, where theoretically every participant is interesting to someone in the potential audience. Then you can do it either way. Of if you have time do it one way - then go back so they get TWO views of little Johnny or Sally. Still, if there's a more interesting image at the stop on either end - go TOWARD that.

FWIW
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Old February 21st, 2009, 12:16 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
If you pan RIGHT and there's NOTHING INTERESTING over to the right - then the move is stupid.
Or you're shooting news, which is not to say the move isn't stupid... but the editor expects it anyway.

And I agree: any camera move SHOULD be motivated.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 02:38 AM   #6
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Wow... some really great responses that took my mind places I was not expecting.


Ian: thanks, that was my thought exactly.

Shaun: Excellent responses...both from a production perspective and a viewer's.

Bill: I wish I had been in your class, and your response it the best one of all.I will keep it in mind as I continure to create films.

Chris S.

ps. And as I mature and learn, I more and more think a moving camera is a film makers best friend.
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