Cinematography fundamentals with WWI Virtual Academy: 5 types of camera angles
Filmmakers often shoot from different angles to lend an air of authority or vulnerability to a character in a scene. In cinematography, there are five basic angles decided by the placement of the camera. Each of these can be used to make a different statement. A thoughtful blend of these can add spice to your film and help you set the mood and tone for a particular scene – read on for a deeper understanding of how this can be done!
The online Certificate Programs in Filmmaking at WWI Virtual Academy covers various facets of filmmaking, cinematography being one of them – click here to know more about our cinematography course.
When the camera is fixed anywhere below the eye line and points upwards, you have a low angle shot. These can symbolically delegate a status of power or authority to the character in the frame, by making the character appear taller and more dominant.
For the eye-level angle, the camera is placed at the same level as the character’s eyes, making the audience feel as though they were actually in the scene, looking at the character’s face as if it was in front of them at their eye level. An eye-level shot is a neutral shot since it doesn’t confer a status of authority or vulnerability to the character. Since this angle shows characters as we would view them in the real world, it gives the shot a very natural look and is therefore widely used.
The dutch shot is executed by tilting the camera; this is a great way of showing tension, nervousness, and disorientation. For example, if you had to shoot a person running through a jungle hitting branches and stumbling at certain points, a dutch shot would be a good way to show this rather unsteady, disorienting movement. These shots can also be used when something is about to go wrong in a scene since they can create a feeling of unrest in the viewer’s mind.
The opposite of a low angle the high angle shot and is accomplished by placing the camera at a high point so that it looks down at the characters. This makes the characters look small and inconsequential while highlighting their defenselessness. This shot of Rose from Titanic does a great job of exemplifying this. Trapped in an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love, Rose’s lack of control in her life and the resulting vulnerability is showcased well over here through the high angle.
Here, the camera is positioned at an elevated point directly above the subject or location and gives the viewer the feeling of looking down at the subject. This can be used to create a dramatic effect and give the audience a neutral view of the scene. This is also known as the God’s eye shot as it gives viewers an omniscient, almost godly point-of-view, as though God Himself was watching over the characters. Drone shots or top view table top shots are common examples that make use of this angle.
Sit with your director in the pre-production stage and draw up a shot list comprising these angles, which are explored with examples through the video below. A blend of these angles can help you take your plot forward in an engaging manner – we cover this in detail through our Certificate Course in Cinematography.
WWI Virtual Academy offers several online courses in filmmaking. If you’re looking to dive deeper into the film world, sign up for our Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking!