Video is about moving pictures (obviously) but a lot of times I find myself shooting something that's not doing a lot of moving. Stationary products, sculptures, recipe ingredients, these things need to be in the video, but you can't just lock off the camera and roll (well you could, but who wants to look at that?). In the early days I would pan or tilt up, rack focus, and that was about it. It gave me movement, but lacked a sense of depth in the scene. Recently we picked up some sliders that are small enough to live on the tripod, but still offer a lot of options for the smooth lateral camera movement that adds depth and production value to a shot. The edelkrone SliderOne.
edelkrone (www.edelkrone.com) makes a range of compact and clever gear, mostly for DSLR video production.
SliderOne is a slider that screws into the 3/8" post on your tripod. It has a 3/8" post on top so you can mount your tripod head to the slider and preserve your normal range of motion, but with added slide capability. It's made of aluminum and stainless steel and feels well built. The total length is nine inches, so it's small enough to toss into a carry-on bag for road gigs. The published weight limit is 20 lbs. which feels overstated. It's designed for lighter DSLR rigs, but I've had my C100 Mark II on it for months, and it handles that just fine.
At the risk of stating the obvious, sliders are great for adding depth and movement to a shot. When you pan your camera, you are spinning it on the vertical axis. You get movement but because the camera isn't moving through the space, you only get to see one side of the subject. For this reason pans can feel a little flat. A dolly or slide moves the camera in space, so you get a sense of the dimension of the thing you're shooting, as well as the foreground and background. A pan is like exploring a room while standing in the doorway, a slide is like walking in to the room.
I love shots where there is something out of focus in the foreground, and the camera slides past it to reveal the subject. Sliding laterally looks great when there are multiple objects stacked in z-space. As you slide they move at different rates through the shot and really give you a sense of depth. The other shot I love is pushing in past something in the foreground toward the subject. A slider not only helps you visually describe the subject or space but it allows you to add a feeling of dimension, inclusion, and discovery. Check out our samples below!
The SliderOne gives you the ability to slide horizontally across a subject or scene, or push in or pull out on a subject, all without a ton of setup. My SliderOne lives on my tripod full time. If I see an opportunity for a slide, I unlock it and slide. When I'm done, I lock it and move on to the next shot. It's great for b-roll, but we have also used it to add some lateral movement during interviews. Even though it's only six inches of travel, if you set up your shot properly you can really get some nice depth whenever inspiration strikes.
edelkrone (www.edelkrone.com) has free shipping on orders over $99. You can also find these at B&H. While you're there check out the new motion control system, Motion Module. I've seen this thing in action with a SliderOne and it's incredibly useful for hands free camera moves, stop motion, time-lapse and more.