September 11, 2017

Follow These 5 Steps to Create a Perfect Whip Pan Transition

Create seamless whip pan transitions in post by following these simple shooting techniques.

Known best in recent years for their appearance in films by Wes Anderson, Egdar Wright and Sam Raimi, a whip pan transition is just what it sounds like: a pan that whips around quickly, transitioning between two shots. The cool thing about the whip pan is that you can hide a cut in the middle of the camera move. Use this trick to smoothly bring your audience to a different time and location, or use it for creative effects, such as cloning an actor or faking weapon throws. To create an effective whip pan, you first need to pay attention to a few simple shooting techniques. Here are five steps you can follow to create the perfect whip pan transition.

1. Pick a direction

The key to creating a good whip pan transition is to do everything in camera, not in post. Since this is a transition, it consists of two shots. You’ll be whipping out of a shot and into another. The transition works best when you whip the pan in the same direction, which helps gives the illusion that you are actually doing one quick camera movement. For example, if I’m panning out of a shot from left to right, then I need to have the same direction of movement in the following shot. To create a sequence of shots, you’ll need to whip in and out of each shot, with each according to the direction you want your transition to take place.

2. Choose a speed

The speed of your whip pan is as equally important as the direction in which you whip the panning move. If you want your transition to appear smooth and seamless, perform your whip pan shots at relatively the same speed. If one pan is drastically faster or slower than the other, the transition might not work. Also, the faster you pan, the greater the likelihood you’ll have some nice motion blur. Motion blur is integral to making the transition work since it helps to hide the cut. To give yourself more motion blur, shoot at a slow shutter speed.

3. Match the shots

In addition to the direction and speed of the pan, try to match the colors and/or brightness of each clip at the transition or “whip” points. This will help to hide the cut and make your transition extra seamless. For example, if I’m planning to transition into a shot of a lightly colored wall, then I should transition out a shot of something that is equally as bright—the sky, for instance, would be perfect. If you can’t match the colors or brightness, adding a short cross dissolve in post might make the transition less noticeable.

4. Shoot multiple takes

If you don’t know which direction you want to whip your transition, you can just go ahead and do several takes of different movements for the same shot. Let’s say I want to transition into a shot of the Eiffel Tower. I can quickly do four takes of my shot - one coming from the left, one coming from the right, one coming from the bottom, and one coming from the top. I could even get coverage for a transition out of this particular shot. To get all of your shots perfectly composed, you can shoot these shots in the opposite direction and then reverse them when editing.

5. Edit your clips

If you followed the shooting tips listed above then your edit should be short and simple. Trim your first clip to the point where your motion blur begins, give or take a few frames. Next, trim your second clip to a similar point where the motion blur is about to end. Adjust the in and out points of each clip until you’re happy with the look of your transition. Again, if it is necessary you can always add a very short cross dissolve between the two clips. However, if you followed the tips, this shouldn’t be necessary.      

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1 Comment

The point about matching color is a really great one. Definitely something I'm going to keep in mind!

September 12, 2017 at 2:59PM

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Andrew Sellers
Writer/Director/Assistant Camera
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