The PAN is used to connect things; a pan from a girl's face to another girl's cell phone tells the viewer that the first girl is deeply interested in the phone, even if she is not looking right at it. The PAN can also connect people in a similar way; a shot of a boy which then pans to a girl suggests a connection, a desire perhaps. Couple that PAN with a wink or a gesture, and you've got some real fireworks on your hands. Don't underestimate the power of the pan; it can be a mighty tool in your storytelling arsenal.
Clip: The closing scene of Places in the Heart. We end at a church service. A hymn is being sung as the communion elements (part of a Christian ritual of sharing food and wine) are passed around. Ms. Edna, a widow, receives the elements and passes them to her dead husband (!), who then passes them to the young man who killed him and was later executed. In this gorgeous and powerful scene, Robert Benton's panning camera connects the world of the living and the world of the dead. Yes, the pan can even do that.
A SWISH PAN (sometimes called a FLASH PAN) is a pan which is so fast that it blurs the image.
Other uses of the PAN are:
1. To track an actor as he/she moves horizontally across a room. Be sure to leave some lead room when filming. If the actor is moving right to left, leave extra space on the left for her to walk into.
2. As subjective camera of a character who is looking around the scene.
3. Rarely, to make something invisible become visible in a sense. A scene in Goodfellas where the panning camera follows the thread of nonverbal communication through a backyard party. In the film Rebecca, we learn how Rebecca may have died as the camera follows her non-existant image around the room.
4. To take in the vastness of scenery or to expose the audience to the setting. Sometimes, what emerges at the edge of a pan can be funny or surpri