Camera jibs: what are they?

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Need to film hard to reach places or a specific shot with one smooth swipe of the lens? Enter….the camera jib.

A camera jib is a crane-like device used in filmmaking and videography to achieve smooth camera movements. It’s also known as a camera crane, camera boom, or camera arm. The device is mounted on a base that can move in all directions, allowing the camera to move through the frame.

A jib can be used to film in hard-to-reach places, or to create dynamic and interesting camera movements. This guide will cover what a jib is, how it works, and when to use one in your filmmaking and videography.

What is a camera jib

Understanding Jibs: What are They and How Do They Work?

What is a Jib?

A jib is a special piece of equipment that helps camera operators capture shots that would otherwise be impossible or very difficult to do. It’s like a see-saw, with a camera mounted on one end and a counterweight on the other. This allows the camera operator to smoothly lift and lower the camera while keeping the shot steady.

What is a Crane Shot?

A crane shot is a type of shot that you often see in movies. It’s when the camera is lifted up and away from the subject, giving a sweeping, cinematic feel to the shot. It’s a great way to add drama and tension to a scene.


How to Make a DIY Jib

Making your own jib isn’t as hard as you might think. All you need is:

  • A sturdy tripod
  • A long pole
  • A camera mount
  • A counterweight

Once you have all the pieces, you can assemble the jib and start shooting! Just make sure you have a spotter with you to help you keep the shot steady.

What’s the Deal with Jibs?

Controlling Jibs

Jibs can be controlled in a variety of ways, but the most common is either manually or with a remote control. If you’re using a jib with electric motors, you can control it from a distance. Most jibs come with a remote control system, so you don’t have to look through the camera’s viewfinder. Plus, you can adjust the camera’s focus, zoom, and other functions while it’s in the air.

Remote Heads

Bigger, fancier jibs usually come with remote heads. These support the camera and let you adjust the pan, tilt, focus, and zoom settings.

Size Matters

When it comes to jibs, size matters. You can get small jibs for handheld cameras, which are great for smaller productions. But even the small ones can do the same things as the big ones.

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Operating a Jib

Depending on the setup, you may need one or two people to operate a jib. One person operates the arm/boom, and the other person operates the remote head’s pan/tilt/zoom.

Crane Shots in Movies

La La Land (2017)

Ah, La La Land. A movie that made us all want to learn how to tap dance and drive around in a yellow convertible. But did you know that the opening scene was shot with a camera jib? It was a real challenge for the camera techs to weave around stationary cars and dancers, especially since the freeway was slanted. But it was all worth it in the end – the scene set the perfect tone for the rest of the movie and introduced us to Los Angeles.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to using jibs for panoramic and tracking shots. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he used them to add atmosphere and context to the ‘Rick’s house’ scene. At the end of the scene, a large jib camera slowly pans out from the top of a Hollywood home to reveal the neighbourhood’s quiet night time roads. It was a beautiful shot that made us all want to take a road trip to Hollywood.

Understanding Camera Jibs for Virtual Production

What are Camera Jibs?

Camera jibs are pieces of equipment used in film and television production to create smooth, sweeping camera movements. They consist of a long arm that can be moved up and down, and side to side, allowing the camera to move in a variety of directions.

Why are Camera Jibs Important for Virtual Production?

When it comes to virtual production, the jib you choose is extremely important. This is because any unintended movement (i.e. any unencoded or untracked movement) caused by the jib can cause virtual images to ‘float’ and break the illusion. To counter this, VP jibs need to be heavier, sturdier, and more rigid.

What are the Best Camera Jibs for Virtual Production?

The best camera jibs for virtual production are those that have all axes encoded, or have a tracking system attached to them. This is required in order to capture camera movement data in order that the virtual elements of a shot can be made to move in exactly the same way as the real camera shot.

Two of the most popular camera jibs for virtual production are Mo-Sys’s e-Crane and Robojib. They were designed specifically with the needs of virtual production, extended reality (XR), and augmented reality (AR) in mind.

The Different Types of Jib Shots

Establishing Shots

When you want to set the scene, nothing does it better than a jib shot! Whether you’re looking to show off a location’s beauty or its desolation, a jib shot can help you do it.

  • In “Blade Runner 2049”, a jib shot pans around the Las Vegas ruins, showing off the lifelessness of the location.
  • In musicals, jib shots can be used to create build-up as it pans away from the subjects, leading up to the climatic end of the scene.

Action Shots

When you need to capture a lot of action in one take, a jib shot is the way to go!

  • In “The Avengers”, the jib shot circles around all of the heroes as they ensemble together for the films’ final fight.
  • Car commercials often use jib shots to show off the product as it’s in use.

Show a Crowd

When you need to show a large crowd, a jib shot is your best bet.

  • In “Silence of the Lambs”, a jib shot shows Hannibal Lecter disappearing into a crowded street.
  • In product commercials, jib shots can be used to show off the product as it’s in use.

Getting to Know Camera Cranes

What is a Camera Crane?

If you’ve ever watched a movie and wondered how they got that amazing shot of the hero walking away from the camera while the camera slowly pans up, then you’ve seen a camera crane in action. A camera crane, also known as a jib or boom, is a device that allows the camera to move in a variety of directions and angles. It consists of a counterweight, control and monitoring equipment, and a camera on one end.

Types of Camera Cranes

When it comes to camera cranes, there are a few different types to choose from:

  • Simple Action Rectangular Jibs: These cranes use two bars that are parallel but pivotable. As the crane moves, the camera can stay pointed at the subject. Varizoom, iFootage, ProAm, and Came make these types of cranes. They’re usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber and are relatively inexpensive.
  • Remote Head Cranes: These cranes require a remote pan and tilt head to provide camera movement functions. They’re usually quite heavy duty and more expensive than other types of cranes. Jimmy jibs, Eurocranes, and Porta-Jibs are examples of these cranes.
  • Cable Assist Cranes: These cranes use a fluid head to dampen the tilting and panning of the crane. Varavon, Hauge, and CobraCrane are examples of these cranes. They’re usually the most cost effective to buy and less expensive to operate.


If you’re looking to take your cinematography game to the next level, a camera jib is a great option. Not only does it provide you with a unique way to capture shots, but it also gives you the ability to move the camera in ways that would otherwise be impossible. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! So, why not give it a shot? After all, they don’t call it the “Jibs of Life” for nothing!

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.