Crane Shots in Film: Raising the Bar | Why Is a Crane Shot Used in Film?


Crane Shots in Film: Raising the Bar

When most people think of cranes, they think of construction sites and heavy lifting. In the world of film and television, cranes are still responsible for heavy lifting. But they do so in a thematic sense, often during emotional or suspenseful scenes. Instead of lifting telecommunication tower components or transit infrastructure into place, cranes make cinematic camera movements possible in film.

From the silent film era until rather recently, crane shots were only possible in high budget products. The cost of renting a crane prevented smaller productions from incorporating these types of camera movements in their works. But technological advances have made crane rental rates in Chicago more affordable. As a result, crane shots have become more common in today’s film industry.

What Is a Crane Shot in Film?

When a camera is mounted to a moving crane or jib for filmmaking or video production purposes, the footage it captures is called a crane shot. Cranes allow cameras to move smoothly in any direction. But their ability to lift cameras to incredible heights is what makes crane shots so impressive.

Why Is a Crane Shot Used in Film?

Like any camera technique, crane shots are used in film for a variety of reasons. Pragmatically, crane shots provide a birds eye view of a scene. But directors have found a multitude of ways to tie these technical shots into the thematic elements of films.

Establishing shots are one of the most common ways to make use of a crane on a film set. They’re used to show the audience where the upcoming scene will take place. Using a crane for these shots allows filmmakers to capture large sets, massive crowds, and dramatic landscapes.

Crane shots can also be used as a way of increasing the drama in pivotal scenes. These shots often start tightly framed on the characters. Once the key moment unfolds, the crane pulls out and lifts the audience high above the action. Doing so can demonstrate a character’s isolation, surrounded by wilderness in every direction or show the aftermath of battle or explosion.

Pulling back from the characters in the final scene is another common reason to use crane shots in film. This technique transitions viewers out of the film world. And it allows the characters to “live happily ever after” or “ride into the sunset.”

Give Your Next Project a Cinematic Lift

If you’re looking for a crane to hire for filming your next project, give us a call at (708) 354-3510. We’ve helped countless productions bring their films to new heights. We would love to help you do the same.