Hey, guys! Henry here
and welcome to a short video essay on
how to use shaky cam.
The majority of filmgoers
as well as filmmakers in general
have a very firm opinion
when it comes to shaky cam.
And the opinion
it is a plague
that shakey cam is a technique
used exclusively by filmmakers
who do not know what they are doing and
if a scene uses a shaky cam and you remove it,
that scene without exception
becomes better by default.
In this video essay,
I want to explain why that mindset is wrong.
it is true that shaky cam has been utilized
by a great many directors to
a very poor standard.
Take this example, for instance.
As you can see,
that example of shaky cam
is exceptionally poor.
It is nearly impossible to
to decipher what’s going on
or even who is winning the fight.
Now, there are a thousand and one examples
of poorly done shaky cam.
But in this quick essay,
I want to address just one example
where it is used
and it works.
And that example is in the film
28 weeks later.
Let’s watch that again.
So, as the protagonist is running down the hallway,
the camera is stable.
As it smoothly tracks his movements,
and then a few seconds later,
as a zombie charges down the very same hallway,
the camera is shaking and sporadic
in a total contrast to the prior shot.
And this contrast between steady and shaky cam
is used throughout this entire scene.
We get a steady shot of the protagonist
and his wife not moving.
It is immediately followed by a quick shot
of a zombie where the camera is shaking
and he snaps his head around.
We get a steady shot of the retacless
running in a field.
It is immediately followed by a shaking shot
from behind the zombie.
I think part of the reason why
this scene is nowhere near as nauseating as
other examples of shaky cam is.
Because the technique is used sparingly.
Most of the shots are not shaking at all
and are quite easy to decipher.
But that reason right there
doesn’t quite explain why this is a particularly effective
use of the technique, but rather why it isn’t a bad one.
So, to explain why this is a great example of
how to use shaky cam.
We need to first understand the effects of the technique.
Every cinematic technique
has an effect.
The long shot helps to establish a strong sense of place.
A moving camera that doesn’t ever stay still
helps to create a sense of momentum,
but also instability.
As we can never quite find a stable footing,
I’d like to argue that
the number one effect shaky cam has on an audience.
Aside from the nausea,
is essentially a more condensed effect of the moving shot.
It creates a sense of instability.
So bringing this back to 28 weeks later,
we can see why this use of shaky cam.
is just so provocative.
In contrast to the steady shots,
the shaking shots where the infected are the subjects
gives them a strong sense of instability
and helps to reinforce their feral nature.
So what can you take away
from this for this video essay?
Well, shaky-cam is just like
any other cinematic technique.
It has its place in film and when used correctly,
it can be quite provocative.
The real reason the technique has developed
such a poor reputation
is because the vast majority of people who use it
do not understand its effect
and as a result,
we see it constantly used in scenes
where it is detrimental to the overall experience,
rather than adding to it.
So if you have a friend
who thinks that shakey cam is a plague that
needs to be eradicated from
all future films.
Feel free to show them this video.
Please do like and subscribe
and I will see you guys next time
on the Closer Look.