I was watching some of Charlie Chaplin's videos and couldn't help wondering what caused them to look as though the cameraman had unsteady hands. But obviously, it's not the cameraman's fault, especially because the film cameras are rarely held in hands, save for a few films like 'Saving Private Ryan'.

The film projection effect I am talking about is unmistakable and I would be very surprised if anyone who has seen these videos hasn't noticed it. And If my guess is right, there is a technical term for it.

  • I guess you'll be interested in photo.stackexchange.com
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 12:56
  • On a different note, did you say "to look as those"? Is that merely a typo or is it a very common/ slang/ popular expression for 'to look as though' ?
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 12:59
  • @Kris. Thanks for drawing my attention to it. It was a typo. I hate typos, especially when they are my own. :)
    – Elzee
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


I think the term may be "jitter":

jitter is used to refer to motion that has high temporal frequency relative to the integration/exposure time. This may result from vibration in an assembly or from the unstable hand of a photographer.

Another source [what is jitter]:

For another take on jitter, let’s think again about Charlie Chaplin and “Modern Times”. A film functions in a similar manner to digital audio, in that a film camera doesn’t record every instant of a scene, but rather “samples” a scene by taking a series of still pictures at a fast enough rate to fool the eye into thinking it sees fluid movement. As you can imagine, the regularity of the exposure (and subsequent projection) of film frames is crucial to maintaining the illusion of fluid movement. Back in the days of Chaplin, early film cameras weren’t so even – frame jitter made the movement seem jerky and unnatural.

  • My search history went something like: "zapruda film", "image stabilization", "jitter", "jitter chaplin". Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 11:00
  • 1
    That's it. Some of the causes of jitter in the video are the same as those of flutter in the audio. Jitter also gets used for flutter in sound, but flutter doesn't get used of jitter in film.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 11:51

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