10 Tips and Tricks on Directing Motion

We ran across this list from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and DGA Director, Vincent Laforet.  We really admire and appreciate Vincent Laforet’s work and all that he’s been doing.  Read this one and take notes!  It’s priceless!


Motion is one of Laforet’s main obsessions. He believes that camera movements must be purposeful and must not only capture a director’s vision but also elicit an emotional response from viewers.

Here are Vincent’s top 10 tips for Film Movement and Direction:

1.  Before you add movement to any scene – ask yourself why you are doing it and if it helps with your scene.

2. Make sure that you cover at least two shots from one angle (one wider and one tighter) and then reverse to the other side of the line – you’ll always have something to cut.

3. Try to use your subject as an axis point for you to rotate your motion off of – it makes for much more dynamic sequences.

4. Pay particular attention to the action in front of your camera and how you block your actors and if you have them, your extras.  If not, use your crew (if they are into it) to wipe the frame and create background action; it renders a much richer frame.

5. The speed of your move is incredibly important:  too slow and the shot lasts forever, too fast and you’re not going to get the payoff you’re looking for.

6.  The length and number of cuts within your sequence should determine the length of each move – not the other way around.

7.  The height of your camera relative to your subject is critical in terms of psychology – pay particular to the association between relative height and power – look at the scene in the boss’ office in “American Beauty” for a great example of that.

8.  Always slow down your camera and move in closer for the dramatic moments within your scene.. If the camera is moving too much or too far your audience won’t be able to connect with the actors.

9.  Audiences ultimately connect with emotion through an actor’s eyes – never forget that.

10.  Learn all of the rules of coverage, sequencing and motion – and break every single one of them with purpose… and you just might strike pay dirt in terms of setting a new standard for how things are shot in the future.

Laforet is known for his avant-garde approach to filmmaking and storytelling. “Reverie,” a Laforet directed short film was the first to be shot with the Canon 5D Mark II.  Later, he was chosen as one of the first filmmakers to shoot with the Canon C300. Laforet has been a cinematographer and director for clients such as Sony, Adobe, Pepsi, Nike and more. Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time and Life Magazine are a few of the publications that have commissioned Laforet’s work. In 2010 he was a three-time winner of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Laforet is considered a pioneer in the field of HD-capable DSLR cameras and is renowned for his innovative tilt shift and aerial photography.

Special thanks to Indiewire for this article.

Vincent Laforet is holding a directing motion conference this year, all over the country.  We’re going to the Atlanta, GA conference, July 28.  You should definitely check this one out and consider attending!

Get a sneak peek at the directing motion tour:


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