August 23, 2018

Make Your Table Scenes More Cinematic with These 8 Camera Moves

Not sure of how to give your table scene a little more oomph? Try these cinematic camera moves.

So much of a film's runtime is spent with people sitting at a table, so much so that there's a term for it: "dinner table scenes," or simply, "table scenes." At first glance, it might seem like there aren't very many ways to make moments like this visually exciting and engaging to watch, after all, it's just a couple of people sitting around gabbing, but there are certainly a few techniques you can bust out that will get your audience's attention. In this video, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens goes over eight camera moves you should try the next time you shoot a table scene. Check it out below:

Here's the list of all the camera moves Morgan talks about in the video:

  • Horizontal slider move
  • Parallax
  • Fly over
  • Push in
  • Pull back
  • Crane/jib
  • Vertical parallax
  • Outward curve

Morgan uses 9. Solutions' C-Pan Arm to achieve all eight of these shots, but even though a camera system like this could make moving your camera easier, it's not required. You can achieve many of these shots relatively simply without specialized gear—hell, a heavy blanket works pretty damn well for many slider shots. Even if you do need to shell out a little dough to get your hands on an inexpensive slider, mini jib, or overhead rig, it might be worth the investment if you think about how much mileage you'll get out of it shooting table shots alone. (Your other non-table shots will also benefit in a big way.)

But let's say you don't have a dime to spend on any fancy filmmaking equipment. Don't let that get you down, because the elements that make these shots cinematic have little to do with what you use to capture it. Every camera movement "speaks" to your audience regardless of whether you used a $2000 rig or your dusty ol' mitts to shoot it. Don't settle for "what looks good," strive to capture shots that tell your story visually.

Also, don't forget about all of the other filmic elements that make a shot cinematic, including good lighting, costuming, and set design. You can have the coolest camera moves in the world and still have a crappy scene on your hands if you neglect these important pieces.     

Your Comment


I really like the C-Pan arm ... but 2k .... seriously ... no electronics, motors, software etc .... just some tubing and fittings .......this should be $500 max ...

August 24, 2018 at 10:37AM


Looks super cool, super duper expensive though...!! ;)

August 29, 2018 at 12:45AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography