All Aboard the Crane Train – Intro to Camera Crane Videography

All Aboard the Crane Train – Intro to Camera Crane Videography

From Touch of Evil to Casablanca, from suspense to closure, crane shots have produced some of cinema and videography’s greatest sights. What is it about a camera crane that creates such unforgettable scenery? Static cinematography/videography services the viewer a clear, solid frame to allow & accentuate stillness or movement within it. Dolly shots produce dynamic footage that creeps or lunges forward, retreats backwards, or tracks from profile. But the camera crane… that one, beautiful piece of equipment and technique combines all the best that videography has to offer and wraps it up into one stunning shot.

Greetings, I’m Toronto Cameraman– a Toronto-based videographer with decades of practical experience with cranes, cams and automobiles. OK, maybe that last one was just to reference a good John Candy movie. In all seriousness, I’ve been running my own camera crane videography services for years, and in this blog I plan to share my expertise with you.


In a world where drones can achieve such wondrous feats of aerial videography, one might wonder why any videographer would offer camera crane videography services in this day and age. Well, to wonder that would be a great underestimation of the camera crane and all it has to offer to modern videography! 

A good camera crane operator can achieve a perfect smoothness that is rarely achieved by the average drone operator. From smaller jibs to 50-foot technocranes, the fact remains that the camera is always grounded through the crane’s solid structure. This means that even the heaviest cameras can be mounted on cranes to achieve the most impressive cinematography and videography.  


Whereas many drones and drone operator services are limited by strict rules (for example, only certain permits allow a drone operator to fly their drone above people), camera crane operators are free to move their camera where they please. Cranes are imposing and impressive by nature, and as a result, everyone around pays attention to them. This means that the videographer can do whatever they want– crane over people’s heads, starting low and ascending high or swooping down to achieve the opposite. They can end in a close-up or wide open to a vast world. The crane becomes an extension of the camera, and a gifted operator will know how to use the crane’s length and mobility to the maximum extent. 

When offering camera crane videography services, ensure the client knows just how much your crane can accomplish. You can always try a wider, more extensive camera move and work your way backwards until you achieve the right balance. Videography is all about balance, and that’s never more true than with camera cranes, which must literally be balanced with counterweights. The concept is simple: a smaller camera will require a lighter counterweight, and a larger camera will require a heavier one. Always take into account the length of the crane and the fulcrum upon which the weight will balance. The final result should be a camera crane that services you as a limb would, smoothly and specifically articulating your vision.


Ultimately, in the world of videography, there is a tool for each shot. Knowing which tool to use makes all the difference when offering your services. While the camera crane may be a bulky, intimidating hunk of gear, it can also be incredibly intimate. As I said before, it is still “grounded” both physically and conceptually. Camera crane videography owns the space it inhabits, and ultimately keeps the viewer tethered to that space. As a videographer, it’s your job to know when it’s appropriate to stay on Earth, and when it’s time to lift off with a drone. You will almost certainly require a crew regardless of which technique you choose– either bodies to help you safely take off and land your drone, or bodies to help you build your camera crane. Remember– the bigger the crane, the more time and/or hands you’ll need to set it up. Always consider this into your budget when it comes to the videography services you offer.


I hope this introduction to camera crane videography has piqued your interest in the art of crane operating. It is a craft that endures through the technological advancements of aerial videography and endless new models of drones. If you’re fascinated by the results achieved by a camera crane but have no plans to operate one yourself– why should that stop you from producing your very own camera crane footage? Toronto Cameraman will help you reach those heights you wish to reach, be they earthbound on a camera crane, or skyward soaring on an aerial drone. I have offered videography services for nearly 30 years, satisfying clients at every step along the way. Pitch me your ideas, no matter how vague or detailed, at Only you can know what Toronto Cameraman’s next video production will look like– so wait no further and make it happen!