Flying Camera




Introduction: Flying Camera

About: You can try my projects AT YOUR OWN RISK. There's infinite ways to damage or destroy persons and property. I can't think of them all. Kids use adult supervision. I've lost count of the number of items that I...

The flying camera effect is simply a boom shot where the camera appears to be flying around the subject. In this video I demonstrate the flying camera effect. Technically one might call it a dolly shot (camera movement horizontal to the ground) combined with a crane shot (vertical camera movement).

You may use the flying camera when you want to convey the feeling of movement in your scene. The style is up to you. I designed the video to be as consistent as possible with the Plugincinema genre and Digimodernism ("Post Postmodernism" or Pseudo-modernism).

What is Plugincinema?

Plugincinema, simply stated, is "filmmaking for the internet and other reduced bandwidth platforms (such as mobile phones, PDAs and PlayStation Portables)." See:

According to, there are ten rules to follow for internet cinema ( accessed 12:48 Romeo 13 November 2012):

1. Total running time should not exceed five minutes.

This is the Internet, not television. This is usually a desk, not the living room. Time and attention are compromised in this venue. Know it, live it.

2. Something interesting must occur within ten seconds.

In a theater, the environment forces the viewer to focus their attention on the screen, allowing the movie to take its time establishing itself. On the Internet, viewers are often at their desk with a cat on their lap or the phone ringing or kids needing attention or cooking something or whatever. And even just inside the computer there are many distractions: incoming email, IMs, other interesting apps to play with. To compete successfully for the viewer's attention in this environment you gotta act quickly and decisevely. That "something interesting" need not include an explosion (someone please call Hollywood and let them know), but it must capture the user's attention. Research indicates that computer users will click away if they don't get some useful activity within ten seconds.

3. It can only require the four most common plug-ins.

That means Flash, Real Player, Windows Media Player, or QuickTime. Anything else has a market penetration too small to be worthwhile for the general public. Requiring people to download one more plug-in is so very rude and only hurts yourself: a more polite world is only a click away. And of course we're talking about one version behind whatever the current one is; requiring folks to get a more recent version of a plug-in than what they're likely to have is just as rude. It takes about 18 months for a new version of a plug-in to become dominant.

4. It must be sized between 320x240 and 640x480.

Anything smaller than 320x240 is too small to be interesting. Anything larger than 640x480 is too large to be downloaded by most people.

5. Compose for your delivery size.

This is a small screen, so don't compose long shots in which essential detail may be lost.

6. Movies should be downloadable.

If you think streaming is somehow more secure you're kidding yourself. The image quality of streaming media is far, far behind downloadable movies. Don't make people suffer pixelated images and out-of-synch sound. Understand that any electronic media can be shared, then get comfortable with that. Put a copyright notice on it and let it go.

7. It should be double-sized.

Setting the movie to double-size gives twice as much viewing area without increasing file size/download time. If you use good compressors like Sorensen in a downloadable movie, even at double-size the quality will still be much better than streaming.

8. There must be a URL which can direct others directly to the movie page.

The Internet is about sharing. If you take the time to make media available, take just a little more time to think through how easily folks can access it. Frames do not normally allow direct URLs to go to a specific page. Frames are allowable only if they point to a frame set or a CGI or some other means lets folks paste a URL into their browser to get to your flick.

9. Credits must be a single frame at the end of the movie.

See #1. Folks care much more about who contributed what to a movie after they've seen it. Let Hollywood do what it feels it needs to do to satisfy those egos; here it's about the viewer, and the viewer's time is the most precious commodity. Don't waste it. A single frame at the movie will last exactly as long as the viewer wants.

10. Provide an email address in the credits.

An interesting movie will warrant inquiry. It's only natural that someone viewing a movie on a computer will want to contact the author via email. Leaving out your email address only makes the earnest fan jump through hoops with WHOIS to find you. Extra bonus points if you make the email address clickable (e.g.,

In "Flying Camera" I did not follow rule number 10. It seemed superflouous since "Flying Camera" is a simple demonstration of the flying camera effect and not a story with a beginning a middle and an end.

What Is Digimodernism ("Post Postmodernism")?

Digimodernism or Post Postmodernism or Pseudo-moderism is a cultural reaction to Postmodernism. Where Postmodernism emphasizes the importance of the author, Digimodernism emphasizes the importance of the viewer, or the reader. To quote Alan Kirby, "one phones, clicks, presses, surfs, chooses, moves, downloads." (for an excellent write-up on "pseudo-modernism see Alan Kirby's article, "The Death of Postmodernism And Beyond"

Postmodernism calls into question permanent and stable reality. "Nothing is certain" and "there is no truth" are archetypally postmodern. In digimodernism, one clicks, surfs, downloads, and creates one's own reality. The mix tape and the mashup are examples of digimodernism (in the old days we used to copy selected tracks from things called records and record them on things called cassette tapes).

In cinema, examples of digimodernism are often called shaky camera or handheld movies like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Quarantine. The plots of these films are sometimes called "found footage" where the plot unfolds from the point of view of the person carrying the camera who also happens to be one of the characters in the story.

People either love or hate shaky camera movies--there's rarely any middle ground.

For the filmmaker, the handheld movie can present a challenge because the camera can never move more than an arm's length away from the character carrying the camera. Dolly shots, crane shots, and any number of other tools available to the filmaker are thus rendered useless.

The "Flying Camera" effect remains consistent with the shaky camera digimodernism style, but gives the filmmaker the opprotunity to break out of the "arm's length" self imposed prison of digimodernist filmmaking.

For an idea of how to incorporate shaky camera using conventional filmmaking equipment, please review M. David Melvin's documentary short "Star Trek: A New Vision" that shows J.J. Abrams shaky camera technique.

Please visit my Make project for step by step instructions of how to build the rig that I used to shoot "Flying Camera":

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    5 years ago on Introduction, yeah.... it's 14 years old. and most of the things are no longer relevant!