Create Smooth Shots With This Clever Walking Technique

This one time, at band camp...

Shaky footage can be a nightmare in post. No matter how much Warp Stabilizer or processing you add to the footage, it may not be as buttery smooth as you want it. The key to smooth footage is to step up your technique in the field so when you do slide into post, it can be easier to fix if necessary at all. 

Operating handheld, we all know the advantages of enabling optical lens stabilization or in-body image camera stabilization – though the latter can crop the frame – they both help stabilize footage. When combined on systems like a Canon or Sony mirrorless camera, they can offer multiple stops of shake correction. But as a shooter, you shouldn't rely on those features alone. In fact, you should turn them off and practice your hand placements and walking techniques over and over again. Though IBIS and/or IS helps tremendously, as you incorporate larger rigs and steadicams, you'll be thankful that you have the proper techniques down as higher-end cameras and lenses may not have those stabilizing features. 

Steadicams have helped to create some iconic long shots in movies like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, La La Land, Birdman, Children of Men, and shows like True Detective. But it's a combination of the gear and operator experience that makes those shots so impactful. Aside from take after take just to get it right. No Film School has discussed tips on starting out with a steadicam in the past, but what about walking technique? 

You may have already heard about the "ninja walk" technique. It's when you smoothly plant your feet from heel to toe in a rolling-like motion while staying low to the ground. The idea is to walk with shorter, smoother strides with a lower center of gravity for a smooth ride. Filmmakers like Parker WalbeckJohn Luna, Brandon Li, and others have gone in depth on the subject, while creators like Daniel Schiffer and Peter McKinnon have a ton of great tips when it comes to shooting handheld B-roll. 

But have you heard of the "marching band" technique? 

Filmmaker IQ has stepped out of the studio to show us what he's learned from his day being in a marching band and how they can translate into smoother footage. Check it out below. 

The technique uses similar very ideas to the ninja walk so maybe this is just clever rebranding, but nevertheless, it's very helpful. What do you think if it? Have any tips to share yourself? Let us know in the comments below.       

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3 Comments

Mango Street as the cover photo for the article? Is that one of their stock photos or is that just a frame grab from their video? Or is Daniel writing for NFS as one of his many side hustles?

September 22, 2020 at 3:28PM

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Jeremiah Kuehne
Filmmaker
1037

He has a second channel in which he talks about making money in the internet, and in one of his videos he talked about how he and Rachel sell stock photos. Perhaps this is one of them.

Is all coming together...

September 22, 2020 at 8:28PM

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Jesús Vanegas
Director, Director Of Photography, Writter
72

Having been in the marching band all four years of my high school career I can say that this technique works very well.

September 28, 2020 at 9:09AM

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Nick Straub
Wedding Photographer/Videographer
427