As a filmmaker, you want to emulate the production value of Hollywood films, including camera movement. Static shots, or simply shots where the camera doesn’t move, are boring. A small amount of steady movement of the camera, reveals the three-dimensional nature of your set. The foreground elements seem to move at a slightly faster rate, than the background elements, which makes for much more dynamic and interesting shots.
In motion picture terminology, the term tracking shot may refer to a shot in which the camera is mounted on a camera dolly, a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken; in this case the shot is also known as a dolly shot or trucking shot. One may dolly in on a stationary subject for emphasis, or dolly out, or dolly beside a moving subject (an action known as “dolly with”).
The term tracking shot may also refer to any shot in which the camera follows a subject within the frame, such as a moving actor or a moving vehicle. When using the term tracking shot in this sense, the camera may be moved in ways not involving a camera dolly, such as via a Steadicam, via handheld camera operator, or by being panned on a tripod.
The Italian feature film Cabiria (1914), directed by Giovanni Pastrone, was the first popular film to use dolly shots, which in fact were originally called “Cabiria movements” by contemporary filmmakers influenced by the film; however, some smaller American and English films had used the technique prior to Cabiria, as well as Yevgeni Bauer‘s The Child of the Big City, released a month prior to Cabiria. A popular use of a tracking shot was in The Avengers when the camera follows each member of the team for a short while during the final battle in New York.
The tracking shot can include smooth movements forward, backward, along the side of the subject, or on a curve. Dollies with hydraulic arms can also smoothly “boom” or “jib” the camera several feet on a vertical axis. Tracking shots, however, cannot include complex pivoting movements, aerial shots or crane shots.