In our previous post, we looked at shot sizes. If you haven’t read that post yet, I’d recommend you do before continuing to read on here. Once you’ve gained an understanding of shot sizes, it’s time to look at camera angles. The reason why it’s important that you understand shot sizes first is that when you’re planning your shoot, you plan your shot size before your camera angle. The angle helps you in creating disorientation, empathy, or fear in the viewer.
The eye level shot is more neutral than any other camera angle. This is where the camera points ahead at around the same level as your actor’s face. It’s the same technique used in an interview shoot if you wanted a degree of objectivity. Here, the aim is to allow the viewer to follow what’s happening on screen without manipulating what they’re feeling.
This angle introduces subjectivity. The camera is positioned at a low angle while looking at the character from below, rather than facing straight ahead. This can cause him or her to appear dominant, threatening, or powerful relative to a second character on screen. As with a number of the shots we’ve mentioned previously, you can apply various degrees of intensity. A low angle at a slight degree of intensity can show authority like a parent looking at a child. An extreme low angle shot can show a creature such as King Kong or Godzilla bearing down on the human characters in the film.
The high angle is the opposite of the low Ange. Here is how you can make your character appear small. A shot from Godzilla’s POV, for example, might point downwards to show the powerlessness of the character relative to him. You can apply an extreme version of this with a bird’s eye view or top angle. The shot looks down on the subject from a high angle and can be used both indoors and outdoors. You might want to look down on your character entering an arena, for example.
This is now one of the more often-used ways to show disorientation. Here, you would tilt the camera to one side to make it uneven with the horizon. You could use the shot to show a drunken character’s POV as he makes his way down a street, stumbling as he goes, for example. Another example of when you would use a Dutch angle would be if you were making a horror film and you wanted to create an impression of walls closing in in a haunted house.
Another angle capable of changing the way the audience views the scene. This shot is typically a close-up of one character’s face from “over the shoulder” of another person, and creates a feeling of confrontation or conflict. You could actually use a wide shot with an OTS angle to show the subject’s motion through an action sequence or looking out over a mountain when you’d prefer to avoid using a POV.