One of the best low-cost support rigs for small video cameras is the monopod with a small stabilizer tripod base. These are incredibly light in weight, easy to travel with and offer videographers some interesting tricks. One of those is whip pan and snap focus.
Whip pan and snap focus, when done well, can convey a sense of excitement, urgency and anticipation within a scene. The technique introduces movement into the footage with a relatively small amount of effort. Whip pan can also be used as an in-camera method for creating a transition between scenes.
To execute a whip pan with a video camera mounted on a monopod, pan from one scene or subject to another as quickly as possible. You want the image to blur during the pan. Then snap the new subject into focus as the camera movement stops. It takes a bit of practice to execute correctly, but the effect is excellent.
Having the right kind of monopod can help. A good model for whip panning is Benro’s S4 Video Monopod ($199.00). It’s articulating three-foot base and compact fluid head provide the right amount of support regardless of the monopod's position.
3 Legged Thing Monopod
Monopods have caught on and keep getting lighter. For example, 3 Legged Thing’s new Alan Carbon Fiber Monopod with DOCZ Foot Stabilizer weighs only 1.3 pounds and costs $199.99. It can support 130 pounds yet closes down to 17.7 inches.
Many videographers now believe that using a monopod for video is the single best tool available for a shooter to improve production value. Though sometimes a bit risky, many videographers use monopods with larger bases as stand-alone tripods. Just be careful that no one knocks it and the camera over.
In addition to techniques like whip panning, a monopod offers inexpensive way of creating stable footage while on the go or in tight spaces. That’s especially important when shooting with a small SLR or micro-four thirds video camera. A pivoting ball in the base can allow the camera to be moved in any direction while remaining stable.
By sheer virtue of their size and weight, small HD cameras are difficult to hold by hand without stabilization. While a tripod can provide support, it’s often too large and cumbersome for fast moving news events that video crews must cover.
The latest video monopods are now small and light enough go in any camera bag. They are quick and easy to deploy. Videographers can work unobtrusively while remaining unnoticed. The right monopod/base combination can be life changing for any working videographer.
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