Pivot Reveal

In narrative filmmaking, a key concept of camera movement is that it must be motivated. The movement should not just be for the sake of moving the camera; doing so usually means that the director is suffering from a lack of storytelling skills. (1)

On the contrary, motivated camera movements (click here for a short list of possible camera movement motivations) show great storytelling and directorial skills. Pivot reveal in Moon directed by Duncan Jones is one those examples.

Moon (2009)
Moon (2009)

There is a scene, when Sam Bell phones home and talks to his daughter. He had already discovered that he is a clone. (Characters living lies is by the way reliable staple in science fiction (2). Movies like Alien, Island or newly Oblivion come to mind.) But when he sees the original Sam Bell, he breaks down. He realizes he never had a chance. The scene ends with his words: “I want to go home. I want to go home.”

Now, the camera pivots around the moon rover and reveals Earth. Both the moon rover and Earth have story function, so there is a clear motivation behind this camera movement.

Camera pivoting around certain object or character is a beautiful and high production value shot, but so much more powerful when it does more things at the same time. Here it revels the Earth in wide shot when he says “I want to go home”.

Moon (2009)
Moon (2009)

This shot purposefully ends in wide shot which makes you then ask all kinds of questions about humanity: Who are we? What is our purpose here? How…? Where…? Why…? WHY?


  1. Cinematography: Theory and Practice (p. 62)



2 thoughts on “Pivot Reveal

  1. I just found your site (via a google search for “high camera angle”). Tremendous work here. Very thoughtful. I am learning a lot and will send my students here.

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