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12. Blur Your Video's Motion

It's difficult to get the impression of speed in video—even when you're filming something that's going 100 miles per hour it can look relatively stationary on a small television screen. That's why you should master motion blur to give your audience a sense of something quickly moving when you need the effect. For example, you could use motion blur to record a horse race to show your audience the equestrians' speed.

When blurring, you will find yourself panning your camera quickly. Except when blurring, you usually want to maintain slow pans. In addition, you'll find that slowing your camera's shutter speed will help blur the background but you also should use a steady hand (and preferably a tripod) to keep your subject in the same position inside your camera's lens.


Motion blur— The effect of tracking a speeding object and thus blurring the background due to the motion.


Shutter speed— The time between the opening and closing of your camera's shutter, determining how many frames per second your camera records.

Shutter— Blades that open and close, exposing your subject to your camera's film, creating one frame of video each time the shutter opens.

Set a Slow Shutter Speed

You can get decent motion blur even with your camera set on full automatic shutter speed, but the slower your shutter speed is set, the better your results will be. Try setting your camcorder's shutter to manual mode and try 1/30 or 1/60 of a second.

Set for Manual Focus

In certain situations, you might not be able to keep the moving subject in the middle of the frame, where the auto-focus sensors are located. If so, set your camera's focus to manual and dial in the focus to where the moving subject will be when you start shooting.

Zoom Out

Before the shot begins, make sure that you're not zoomed in too far. If you can't see enough of the background, the effect of the motion blur will be lost.


Your shot's background provides a stable image behind your motion blur. If your motion blur is weak, one of the first things to try is zooming out for a wider background shot.

Pan and Film

When it's time to get the shot, start recording and pan with the moving object. Ideally, the object will move from left to right (or right to left) across your field of view. Just turn with the moving object to keep it in the frame throughout the shot.

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