Axial movement is defines as, “Non-locomotor movement occurring above a stationary base involving the spine. Any movement organized around the axis of the body. Any movement that is anchored to one spot by a body part using only the available space in any direction, without losing the initial body contact. Movement is organized around the axis of the body rather than designed for travel from one location to another.” In dance, this category may encompass a number of joint actions, level changes, rotations/spirals, and gestural movements. All these actions may occur within an infinite number of spatial planes. Now, can we make the jump (2 feet to 2 feet) into how this relates to camera movement? The stationary tripod is similar to the human neck, in that it is capable of flexion, extension, lateral rotation, and lateral flexion. Let’s take a look at how these anatomical articulations translate to camera motion.

Tripod Heads and Methods of Creating Drag
a. Friction Head – develops drag by the friction of two metal-surfaced or fabric-surfaced plates
b. Spring Head – creates drag through a set of springs
c. Fluid Head – drag created by the movement of a thick fluid from one chamber to another

Pan (Horizontal/Table Plane)

The camera motion commonly known as panning occurs in the horizontal/table plane. This action moves sideward, while maintaining consistent level. Think of the eyes tracing the horizon as the head rotates to the side (like nodding the head “no”). As the pan occurs, the vertical composition of vision changes as objects slide right or left. The pan emphasizes horizontal motion, but requires an eye for vertical composition.

Traveling Side Phrase

“When panning with the camera, place your feet in a comfortable position at the finish of the pan. Then twist your body into the starting position. This unwinding effect allows your body to relax as it approaches the end of the pan, instead of building tension and the shakes that go with such tension. This same technique works somewhat the same in lengthy tilt. Position your body in a comfortable position at the end of the tilt, not at the beginning.”

From Single-camera Video Production by Robert B. Musburger

Tilt (Sagittal/Wheel Plane)

The camera motion commonly known as tilting occurs in the sagittal/wheel plane. This action moves upward and downward, while maintaining consistent facing (like nodding the head “yes”). Look down to your feet and extend the cervical spine as the eyes arc through forward/diagonal/low, forward/middle, forward/diagonal/high, place/high. As the tilt occurs, the horizontal composition of vision changes as objects in sight rise or descend. The tilt emphasizes vertical motion, but requires an eye for horizontal composition.

Melt and Grow Phrase

Rotate (Frontal/Door Plane)

Camera motion that rotates is slightly less common than panning and tilting. This action involves clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation while remaining in the frontal/door plane. This one’s a bit harder to illustrate on the human body, but imagine an axis that passes from front to back through the space between your eyes. Now, try evenly rotating the eyes around that point. Maybe this is why it is less common! A rotating shot exhibits a circular shift of both the horizontal and vertical composition and results in disorientation to gravity. A rotating action that moves back and forth would cause a see-saw effect on the horizon. This is a great action to use if you want to upset the stomachs of your audience!

Wind Up and Inversion Phrase