Pan vs Tilt

I’ve heard far too many filmmakers and supposed screenwriters say things like:

“… and then it pans up and you see …”

“… the camera pans in on her face and …”

Here’s the thing: you can only pan left and right. That’s it. If you’re talking about movies, writing screenplays, or anywhere near me, please use the correct terminology.

Pretend your head is the camera. Look left. Look right. That’s panning.

Now look up. Look down. That’s tilting.

Both are from a fixed position.

The camera does not pan in on anything. If you’re describing the frame “moving in” on a subject it either zooms or physically moves (dolly/steadycam/crane/etc). But I wouldn’t bother referencing a zoom or dolly in a screenplay. It will only detract from the read. Find a creative way to paint a mental picture for the reader without need of technical specificity.

PanPan

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