March 6, 2017 at 5:38AM


Seamless Exposure Adjustments in Professional Work

There are many shots I see in movies that have a seamless pan from the floor up to the sky, with no visible adjustment in exposure.

When I try to attempt the same shot, I need to adjust my aperture and it is very abrupt and not smooth as in professional work.

My question is: How do they achieve this? How do they go from such a dark location (such as a low-key room) to the outdoors with no visible adjustment in exposure settings?



They have a dedicated camera crew who has practiced the shot. That is, there is a person standing next to the camera who's job is to adjust the iris and focus while another handles the pan/tilt. Also, it's impossible if your lens is controlled by the camera; it must be a fully-manual lens. When I was primarily doing cinema camera work (yet another distinction between professional film and prosumer video), we would make little wedges with white scribble tape to put on the lens so we would know what F-stops and focal distances were required for those shots. As far as I can tell, most current DSLR/video lenses can't do that.

March 6, 2017 at 7:33AM


Stephen's spot-on. Most movies you've seen pull that off use iris pulls. One way to fake this (sometimes, even better) is to use a variable ND filter. have someone focus on moving that, to keep the exposure the same. What makes that great, is that any camera with a threaded lens (or a matte box, if you use a larger filter) can do this effect, without changing depth of field, or any other internal camera settings.

March 8, 2017 at 1:11PM

Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer

Awesome! I'd never thought of using a variable ND in video like that...

Ed Jillings

March 10, 2017 at 2:03PM

You also might consider accomplishing the shot in two shots.

1. expose for the ground and then quickly pan up
2. expose for the sky, begin your shot on the ground and then quickly pan up to the sky.
3. combine your shots in post with a quick dissolve to make for a seamless transition from ground to sky

Of course, your pan would need to be quick enough to cause motion blur so that you can disguise your dissolve and blending of the two shots in post. So if you're going for a slow gradual pan, it's going to be much trickier and would most likely require what the two people above suggested.

Best of luck.

March 9, 2017 at 9:17AM, Edited March 9, 9:17AM

Daniel Vestal
Video Producer

You can also do it by exposing for the sky and then using lights to expose your subject to the same level as the sky.

Josef Lorenzo

March 16, 2017 at 8:51AM

Focus and Iris Pull. With these programmable remote controller... it makes achieving that easier. Declicked Aperture required...

March 9, 2017 at 5:40PM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

It's amazing what a good set of keyframes, in post, can do. Keyframing exposure during a pan is undetectable, if done carefully.

March 10, 2017 at 8:47AM, Edited March 10, 8:48AM


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