Five things you really should use a camera slider for

Using a camera slider adds interest to an otherwise static shot. For the following five uses you can put a motorised camera slider to good use. Sliders I’m thinking about include the Rhino Slider EVO with Rhino Motion, Kessler Crane slider with a Second Shooter or CineDrive or a Cinevate model. Another, lesser known option is the SmartSystems Reflex Fluid with motor.

Ordinary time lapse videos

Rhino Motion
© Rhino Camera Gear

You can create time lapse videos without a slider, but a time lapse that slowly moves across a scene delivers just that little extra. Let’s say you’re creating a time lapse of a city, shot from a high point of view. Using a slider will slightly change the angle of your shot and add a further dimension to the sped up action going on below. It will add emotion — e.g. the relativity of what’s going on down there, or a touch of out-of-this-worldliness or temporality — to your shot.

Long exposure time lapse videos

Usually reserved for night skies, long exposure time lapse can be used for a lot more. For example, shooting with a long exposure in a busy railway station will get rid of the people passing by (if you’re lucky enough to find a spot where they won’t run you over), leaving you with only the architecture to take pictures of. Turn those pictures into a video using time lapse and your viewers’ attention will be on the architecture, not the passengers.

Corporate videos and interviews

Kessler Crane motor
Image © Kessler Crane

Let’s be honest, corporate videos and interviews are usually boring. Broadcast companies like the BBC frequently change angles and switch between the interviewer and interviewee to add some visual interest to an otherwise static subject. Combined with zooming in and out, sliding the camera at carefully chosen points in the interview or presentation, as well as cuts to other angles help deliver a professional look to your corporate movie.

Videocasts of yourself talking

If you’re on your own, presenting a topic or showing something to your audience, making a visually interesting movie is even harder as you can’t both operate the camera, look into the lens and concentrate on your subject. A motorised camera slider can be regarded as your virtual shooting assistant. Set the slider up in a proper location, put the motor in automatic looping mode and you can keep on talking while the camera keeps moving. If you have two cameras — the second one can even be a GoPro HERO3 or later action cam — you can cut between the moving camera and a static one. This prevents viewers from dozing off while you’re talking through essential stuff with not much exciting to show them.

Close-up and macro shots of objects

Together with a module that keeps your camera pointed at a subject while it’s moving across the slider — like the Rhino Arc (scroll down the linked page to view it) — you can zoom in on an object as close by as your lens allows and move alongside it very slowly. You will need a good motor for this type of shot, though, as it is very difficult to fix jerkiness afterwards in post. Even if you’re using a plugin like Coremelt’s Lock & Load for Final Cut Pro X, a digital stabilisation of over 5% will show up in a macro shot.

Rhino Arc
Image © Rhino Camera Gear

In this category, there is yet another slider whose makers claim smoothness even when handled manually, the Trost Motion camera slider. The Trost Motion depends on muscle force to move the camera, though.

Trost Motion
Image © Trost Motion
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