Blog Home Contributor Back To Basics: Capturing Crane Shots Using a Jib

Finding new ways to add movement to your shots will make your videos more interesting and engaging. A classic and effective way to do this is with the crane shot.

If you’ve ever watched a concert video, a blockbuster movie, or even a televised golf tournament, you’ve seen crane shots. Crane shots are a big part of any large broadcast production. You’ll notice most big sweeping crane shots leading out of or into a commercial break.

A crane shot is when the camera is moving physically up and down or side to side on what is, essentially, a long arm extending from a tripod. This allows you to raise the camera to higher heights and lower lows, and to make dynamic movements from side to side.

The piece of equipment filmmakers use for these camera movements is called a jib. There are many kinds of jibs, in many different lengths and sizes. Nowadays, jibs are very affordable, very compact, and very easy to set up.

Let’s take a look at some tips and techniques to get the best jib/crane shots.

While using a crane might seem daunting, it is actually a very forgiving piece of equipment. Cranes add a lot of value very easily, and with a little bit of know how and some patience, you can get some really interesting shots.

Establishing Shots

Back To Basics: Capturing Crane Shots Using a Jib — Establishing Shots
Establishing shots are usually wide, exterior shots.

One of the best ways to use a crane is to capture a really dynamic establishing shot.

Establishing shots are usually outside the primary location of your scene. Typically, an establishing shot needs a tripod and a standard wide-angle lens. If you want to add more movement and interest, a nicely framed crane shot will do the trick.

Use The Foreground To Your Advantage

Back To Basics: Capturing Crane Shots Using a Jib — Foreground
A foreground element can be anything from a desk or chair to a person walking through the frame.

One of the best ways to make your crane shots more dynamic is to use elements in the foreground to accentuate the motion of the camera. If something is much closer to the camera while you’re moving your crane, the size and scope of the shot will become much more apparent.

If you have nothing in the foreground, you can usually find something that you can move into the shot. This can be anything from a plant to a chair or a desk. You can even ask someone nearby to simply walk through the frame at the right time.

A Tripod Head Will Give You More Options

Back To Basics: Capturing Crane Shots Using a Jib — Tripod Head
Using a tripod head on your jib will give you a greater range of movement.

Often, you can get away with putting the camera directly on the jib itself. However, you’ll have more options if you put a tripod head on the jib instead. This will allow you to pan or tilt the camera while you make your camera move. This gives you many more framing options, and you can create an entirely different look.

Find Creative Camera Placements

Back To Basics: Capturing Crane Shots Using a Jib — Camera Placement
A jib or crane shot will allow you to put the camera in interesting places.

Without a jib, you’re usually stuck with a camera on a tripod or in your hands. This limits the number of places where you can put your camera.

For example, if you want to get your camera higher, looking straight down, or very low to the ground, a jib is the best and quickest way to do that.

With a jib, you can get top-down shots over tables or desks — you can even make one of those trendy bird’s-eye-view cooking-style videos.

Looking for more information on filmmaking and video production? Check out these tutorials.