Camera panning for gold.
A whip pan shot, also known as a swish pan effect, is a cinematography term that describes a camera movement that literally whips the camera back and forth on its x-axis to create a disorienting motion blur effect.
“You’re naturally blurring the frame, so you can whip into the next scene, essentially hiding an edit,” says editor Cody Liesinger. Often used as a transition, whip pan shots can simulate physical movement or create a sense of high energy, like in an action scene or music video.
Add to your filmmaking arsenal.
Whip pans are a versatile storytelling tool. Not only are they useful to illustrate speed, but they can inject a scene with a jolt of frenetic energy, even in a potentially mundane situation, like back-and-forth dialogue between characters. If you want to replicate the feeling of a subject moving through space, like a knife being thrown, whip pan transitions are perfect. Add sound effects to heighten the urgency even further.
Notable filmmakers like Edgar Wright, Sam Raimi, and Wes Anderson have all incorporated whip pan shots into their work for humor, horror, and heart respectively. If your piece features a montage, whip pan transitions can be a good change of pace from the norm. Just make sure you consider the direction and speed of your whip pan for visual consistency from one shot to the next.