Pedestal Shot – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Cinematography Glossary Terms

I. What is a Pedestal Shot?

A pedestal shot is a camera technique used in cinematography where the camera moves vertically up or down while keeping the horizontal axis fixed. This movement creates the illusion of the camera rising or lowering in relation to the subject being filmed. The term “pedestal” refers to the stand or column on which the camera is mounted to achieve this vertical movement.

II. How is a Pedestal Shot Achieved?

A pedestal shot is achieved by using a camera mounted on a pedestal or tripod with a vertical column that can be raised or lowered. The camera operator can control the movement of the pedestal to adjust the height of the camera while filming. This movement can be smooth and controlled to create a seamless transition in the shot.

III. When is a Pedestal Shot Used?

A pedestal shot is commonly used in filmmaking to change the perspective of a scene or to emphasize a particular moment or character. It can be used to reveal new information, create a sense of drama or tension, or simply to add visual interest to a shot. Pedestal shots are often used in combination with other camera movements and angles to create dynamic and engaging visuals.

IV. What is the Purpose of a Pedestal Shot in Cinematography?

The purpose of a pedestal shot in cinematography is to provide a different viewpoint or perspective on a scene or subject. By changing the height of the camera, filmmakers can alter the composition and framing of a shot, drawing attention to specific elements or creating a sense of depth and dimension. Pedestal shots can also be used to establish the spatial relationships between characters and their environment, or to create a sense of movement and energy in a scene.

V. What are Some Examples of Pedestal Shots in Film?

One famous example of a pedestal shot in film is the opening scene of Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” (1958), where the camera starts high above the streets of a Mexican border town and slowly descends to ground level to follow a car carrying a bomb. Another example is the iconic shot in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” (1958), where the camera pulls back and zooms in simultaneously to create a disorienting effect.

VI. How Does a Pedestal Shot Differ from Other Camera Angles?

A pedestal shot differs from other camera angles, such as tilts, pans, and zooms, in that it involves a purely vertical movement of the camera. While tilts and pans involve horizontal movement, and zooms involve changes in focal length, a pedestal shot focuses solely on adjusting the height of the camera. This unique movement allows filmmakers to create a variety of visual effects and storytelling techniques that are distinct from other camera movements.