Motivating the camera is a simple technique of using visual cues to set up a cut or camera-move and in doing so, ease the audience into a new shot or new information.
Below is a simple example of how utilizing the above theory can have a huge influence on the overall feel/continuity of a sequence.
I think I may have made it a bit over-complicated. Essentially you should be able to look through each of the examples and feel the difference.
Basically: Use a character's eye line to motivate a cut. It helps ease the audience through the cut and into new information. (While also putting us directly in the character's shoes)
There are many other ways to motivate the camera. Below is a short sequence I've boarded out with various examples all strung together. The idea is to create as much continuity within the sequence as possible, making everything clear and easy to follow.
Below I have pointed out the specific methods used to motivate the camera.
So as per the above sequence, ways to motivate the camera;
- Using a Character's eyeline/P.O.V.
- Having a character move on screen and adjusting the camera accordingly.
- Having a character exit frame.
There are other ways not represented in the above example, for instance;
- Having a character enter frame. (illustrated in a tip sheet below.)
I think ultimately what it comes down to, specifically for 'cutting', is the fact that a 'cut' is not natural, it doesn't happen in real life (unless you take really long blinks). Obviously we have all seen enough film/television to accept a 'cut', nevertheless, anything you can do to smooth out the transition will only help create and maintain the continuity of your sequence.
These next examples revolve too around motivating the camera, however explores more "what they are saying visually".
The next three examples are all slight variations of the same scene, each exploring a different approach in regards to the progression of information that is revealed to the audience, and consequently the effect it has on them. Please note that none of these examples are any more "right" than any other. They are merely different takes on the same scene. Their purpose is to show how slight variations in storyboards (and ultimately film) can produce vastly differing ideas/moods/responses. Ultimately, it would all depend on what the script calls for or what is necessary of the scene to determine which of the following (if any) would be suitable.
I think the most important thing to take away from this concept of 'motivating the camera', is just to try and be conscious of the decisions you are making in your storyboards. Try to understand what you are actually saying visually, what information you are revealing to the audience (and when) and what effect it will have on them. Thinking about these things as you board can significantly enhance a sequence and really help 'sell' an idea in the storyboard stage.
On a side note: None of these tips/theories/methods I've discussed (in this post or the previous) are "rules". They are by no means absolute. There are no 'right' or 'wrongs' with storyboarding, as I've stated before, simply ways that work better than others at achieving desired responses. As much as I use these principles and incorporate them into my own sequences, I find myself quite frequently deviating, or cheating, or bending these ideas. I rely much more on the 'feeling' of a sequence as I board. Boarding panels and flipping through them to see how I 'feel' watching it, to see if the cuts are smooth, or if something doesn't 'feel' right. So take these tips for what they are, simply tips, tricks and principles I have found to be successful.
Hope it helps.