The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: Digital Cinematography: Part 2
Depending on the film project you are creating and the kinds of shots required, you may want to create shots with camera moves like trucking/tracking shots, pans, tilts, and any other variety of motion. For subtle camera moves across one shot, digital pans or zooms can also be created in post-production through After Effects or other programs. Pans done in post will change the framing of your shot, but the perspective of the shot will not change. You are simply shooting a wider composition of your shot and moving the dimensions of your screen around within that composition. With a zoom, you are doing the same thing. For this effect, be aware that there may be a change in resolution quality when you zoom into your frame. When planning ahead for camera moves in post, this might give you reason to shoot your images in RAW format so that you reduce the amount of image quality loss.
In a shot where the actual camera is moved around the set, the perspective will change throughout the shot, which gives a different cinematic effect. To accomplish this effect, your camera needs to be mounted on some kind of rig that can also be moved frame by frame, along with whatever you are animating. Usually the camera itself will be mounted on a base that can be moved forward and backward, or left to right. If you want the option of tilting the camera up or down, the base itself can be a geared tripod head with incremental-motion dials on it. As usual, you generally don’t want to touch the camera itself, but rather only move the track it’s attached to. It also helps to have a ruler or some kind of marking system for registering each tiny move you make to the track. Even a long strip of tape with marks drawn on it will work just fine; there should be a point on the base where the camera is attached to line up with each mark. Your camera move can be planned beforehand, especially if you are using an exposure sheet and know exactly how many frames long your shot is. You can plan where the camera move starts and when it ends, and also plan out a slow-out and slow-in. Some software programs now have a special calculator that will help you plan out how much to move your camera over any number of frames.
Camera rigs can be very simple or more complex, depending on your skill level, building tools available, and what kind of shots you ultimately want to create. You want to think about the camera moves that are needed to tell your story or achieve a certain effect, not just move the camera for the sake of moving it. One instance where you might want the option for a camera move would be a scene where a puppet character is walking through a tunnel or hallway, and you want the camera to follow him. This action was called for in the script for Brett Foxwell’s Fabricated, so he set up his camera rig to do this, with the camera suspended from above (Figure 4.18). Having the camera rigged from above allowed for it to move through instances where the floor is visible through most of the scene. The rig can also be interchangeably assembled to have the camera supported from below.