There are various camera shot angles used in filmmaking that help to enhance the narrative as well as the overall mood of the film. Cinematographers often make a careful choice of angles in each scene so that the overall message/intended goal was met in the film. In this blog post, we will be sharing the basic shot angles and placements every beginner should know in filming.
Image: ISO 1200 Magazine
1) High Angle/Top Angle:
A high-angle shot is a technique where the camera looks down on the subject from above – making it an elevated perspective. The camera is usually placed higher than the character making them smaller which can deem as vulnerable, weak, and helpless (threaten) while the shot gives the audience a Point-of-view (POV) of someone that displays assertiveness and power. This gives an emotional connection with the audience to make them feel like they are part of the whole film. The high angle can also convey danger, trauma as well as depression. Moreover, the top angle provides a whole view/perspective of the scene, allowing the audience to understand the whole film setting. An example below is Harry Porter on the ground with his right hand holding onto a wand for defense – showing his fear and weakness in fighting over an “assertive” opponent.
What if you want to capture an even higher shot than the top angle?
2) Aerial Shot/Birds-eye view:
Aerial Shot or also known as a God’s angle is a camera angle that shows a high view from above that is usually captured by a flying object like a drone or even an aircraft/helicopter. The aerial shot is also known as the birds-eye view because we see things from a height like what birds see. They are usually elevated in midair which gives a sense of power and also beauty. It gives the viewers a wider view/understanding of the things below which is intended by the film director. They are mostly used in travel videography/blogs and music videos to show landscapes, deserts, skyscrapers, scenery view,s and many more which are hard to capture everything from ground level.
3) Low Angle:
A low angle is a direct contrast to a high angle shot. The camera is positioned below the level of the eye line while pointing upwards at the subject. Due to how the camera is angled, the subject appears bigger and taller making them strong, powerful, and in control (dominance). An example below features Batman, a DC superhero showing strength, toughness, and fearlessness.
Often used for dramatic effect, a low angle can also make the subjects seem vulnerable/scared. This can be seen in the picture below, a low angle of a man lost in the dense forest frantically searching for resources/help to escape.
4) Over the Shoulder (OTS):
Over-the-shoulder shot or third-person shot is a shot where the camera is placed behind the subject and not entirely featuring the whole body. The camera will slightly feature the shoulder in the frame while the other character is facing them. This shot can be odd but putting this to the viewer’s point of view (POV)/perspective brings connection and understanding between the subjects in the scene. It somehow shares an emotional approach – a relationship between two characters. This shot is usually used when two characters are conversing with one another. This comes to the next shot: POV.
5) Point of View(POV):
In every story, every filmmaker needs POV shots to depict visually and successfully bring a connection with the viewers. This brings them to explore and imagine their perspectives on the film itself. In this case, a POV shot is a shot angle that shows what the subject is looking at in the first person, making them part of the film and see what the character is experiencing at that point in time. It usually comes when the character is showing a reaction/feeling.
An example of a POV shot is a scene from Home Alone where Kevin McCallister falls and the 2 thieves capture them in that low angle. This puts Kevin as our viewpoint, experiencing the capturing from the antagonists.
Image: AS Media Studies
Another example of a POV shot is this frame where the scene only features the hand that brings us as the viewer to experience ‘live’ on what the character is experiencing in disbelief.
Is Point-of-View (POV) shot the same as Eye Level shot?
An Eye-level shot is almost the same as a Point-of-view shot. It gives the viewers a viewpoint set at the eye level of the character. It almost feels like we see the character as what we would see in real life or when talking to a person. The subject is placed directly at level with the camera to achieve the shot. Also known as “neutral shot” aimed to give comfort and familiarity to viewers on how our eyes naturally see things.
6) Dutch Angle
A Dutch angle is a shot angle where the camera is tilted/rotated at an angle where it is not horizontal to the frame of the shot. It is primarily used to cause a feeling of uncomfortable, uneasiness, tension, and even confusion. This shot interacts and connects with the viewer’s feelings due to the weird slanted angle.
Image: Time Out
A very famous film that uses Dutch angles throughout is “Inception”, especially the hallway fight where it was greatly used. This “warped” and overturn scene lets viewers see what is it like to have the world rotate on the opposite side. It indeed brings uneasiness and confusion to the viewers due to how humans see things naturally – straight and not shifted.
There are many shot angles that you can explore in your next video project as well as combine the different shot types to create an immersive film. All the best in your exploration and practice! Stay tuned for our next post as we are going to venture into the different camera movements all beginners should know!