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Instructor: Kathy Cennamo

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Camera Angle

Another important factor to consider when framing your shots is the angle from which the camera shoots a subject or scene. Not only can a variety of camera angles provide the viewer with the most advantageous or interesting viewpoint, but certain camera angles add a unique perspective which can affect the audience's perception of what is happening on the screen. Lets take a look at some of the most commonly used camera angles and what their impacts might be.

Normal Angle

In a normal angle shot the camera is positioned at approximately the subject's eye level, shooting the scene as we would normally view the world. The "normal" angle will vary depending on the subject being shot. If you were shooting a group of children at play then a normal "adult" angle would be too high. In a case like this you should lower the camera.

Remember, the normal angle refers to the subject's position, not the position most comfortable for you.

Normal.JPG (23538 bytes)

High Angle

In a high angle shot the camera is positioned above eye level, with the camera shooting down on the subject. A high camera angle is useful for showing the audience an overview of your scene or shooting area.

In addition, a high camera angle tends to make the subject appear smaller in size and stature. Looking down on a subject suggests a feeling of loneliness and a lack of power.

High1.JPG (28653 bytes)

Low Angle

In a low angle shot the camera is positioned below eye level, with the camera shooting up at the subject. Shooting up from a low angle makes the subject appear larger and suggests a feeling of power and dominance. Many political candidates prefer to be shot from a slightly lower angle to make themselves look taller and more important. In movies, the villain is often shot from a low angle to make them appear more sinister.

Low1.JPG (24766 bytes)

Canted Angle

In a canted angle the camera is tilted on its horizontal plane to produce a slightly unstable picture. This suggests a feeling of excitement, suspense or fantasy to the viewer. Since this is a view of the world that we are not used to seeing, this effect should be used sparingly.

Canted2.JPG (22265 bytes)

Subjective Angle

In a subjective angle the camera is put in place of a character and shows us the scene from the character's point of view. Subjective angles are useful for bringing the viewer into the action. Think of the difference between showing an auto race from the point of view of somebody watching in the grandstand, and showing it from the point of view of a driver in a car speeding around the track. When used effectively a subjective camera angle can make a great impact on the viewer. 

Subjective.JPG (20794 bytes)

Conclusion

Once you are comfortable with the "rules" you can become more creative. Think about the best way to convey the meaning of the shot. You may want to shoot a soccer game from the ground. Or from a high angle. Perhaps you should get down on the floor to tape a puppy romping. Look for interesting and unusual shots.

Remember, certain camera angles convey specific impressions to the viewer. A low-angle shot usually suggests a powerful and dominant subject whereas a high-angle shot makes a subject appear less powerful and physically smaller. A subjective shot is a much different view of a scene from what we are normally used to seeing and tends to involve the viewer. Most of your scenes will be shot using a normal angle, but it is good to be aware of the options you have and the effects you can achieve by changing the angle you shoot from.

Now that you know about the different fields of view and camera angles you can use in your video, there is another factor to consider when framing each of your shots: Movement. So select Movement from the menu buttons above.

Page created for a class project by David Halpin, Mike Mansfield, and Carrie Steffy, 1998.

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