Having learned about pre-production I think you would have planned about the shots, their sequence, and filming location. Yeah! Now comes the part where we actually start production.

The camera angle is basically positioning of the camera for a shot. Each shot requires a camera to be placed in the best position so the audience can see all the players, feel the setting and understand the action. The most basic questions for deciding a camera angle are-

  • What is the best viewpoint for this shot?
  • How much area is to be covered in the shot?

If a camera angle is chosen correctly then it can vividly enhance the dramatic visualization of the video, hence precise camera placement for any shot is very important.

Production of a video starts with these basic terms-

  • Scene – This term is taken from old stage productions where several scenes together formed an act. If you’ve read any of Shakespeare’s drama you’d see how the drama is divided into acts then scenes. A scene may contain multiple shots, it depicts a continuous event.
  • Shot – A continuous footage filmed by a camera without any interruptions is said to be one shot or take.
  • Sequence – It is a series of scenes and hence a series of shots. It may be filmed in the same setting or different settings but showing a continuous action.
  • Cut – A portion taken from the shot is called a cut.

 Types of camera angles-

  1. Objective – A sideline viewpoint is used in this type of camera angle. It shows the film from the audience point of view and as it doesn’t present the scene from any of the characters from the scene hence the camera angle is said to be impersonal. Most films are made by using this camera angle. E.g. Here is couple seen from the audience point of view.

Couple sitting in park

  1. Subjective – This shows the film from a personal viewpoint of a character present in the scene. E.g. A camera dropped with a shock cord to simulate a falling person or roller coaster ride.
    Subjective camera angles add dramatic content to a scene, here is an example in which the smartphone is shown as the person holding it would see it.

A person holding smartphone

 

  1. The point of view – A p.o.v. shot lies somewhere between objective and subjective shot. The camera lies on the side of the subjective character. E.g. over-the-shoulder.

 A boy flying a kite

 There are three factors on which camera angle depends-

  1. Subject size –The size of the subject with respect to the total frame covered determines the subject size. It increases as the camera advances towards the subject or when a longer lens is used, vice versa is also true. According to subject sizes, the shots are further divided into following –
  • Extreme Long Shots (ELS)Shows a vast area from a great distance. Such shots establish setting and are used for grand-scale opening.

 hilly view with vehicles

 

  • Long Shots (LS) – Long shots are used to show the whole area of action and work around the character. These also depict the setting of the scene.

 A slient station with greenery

 

  • Medium Shots (MD or Med) – These shots lie between long shots and close-ups. Characters in medium shots are filmed above the knees or just below the waist. They are best for presenting an event when the setting has been set for long shots. The most important medium shot is two-shot in which two people exchange dialogues while confronting each other.

A painting done on girl's face

  • Close Ups – A close-up shot is filmed from anywhere between waist and shoulders to above the head. Close-ups are a very vast and significant topic of cinematography.

A side view of painting done on face

  • Inserts – A zoomed or close up pictures of a newspaper, photographs, letters, etc. When a subject doesn’t fit in the frame so as the background can be seen then inserts are filmed. E.g. a character reading a letter where you also want to show the contents of the letter.

A question paper holded by person

  • Descriptive shots – Cameramen use descriptive terms to explain shots and their contents. E.g. pan shot, dolly shot, follow up, tracking shot, boom shot. A perfect example of a follow-up shot would be a football match, you can see how the camera follows the ball. A pan shot consists of a moving subject with blurred background.
  1. Subject angle –

    The solidity or three-dimensional appearance of a subject is best seen in a film when two or more surfaces of the subject are visible. A subject appears flat when only one side is visible as if it is a cardboard cut. The face and body are best seen from an angle which covers the front and side part. The idea is subject angle is to capture depth effect. A forty-five degree is the most preferable angle for capturing faces, body, and objects.

    Here you can see how the subject seems flat when filmed from the front and how it turns to be three dimensional when filmed from another angle.

A samsung charger view from two angles

  1. Camera height –

    Camera height is often not taken seriously and is set just to cover the scene. But, it is as important as the other two factors. Camera angle according to camera height is divided into-

    • Level angle – It shows the scene from the eye level of a subject or an average height. Objective shots are mostly shot at eye-level.
      Side view of a boy's face
    • High angle – When the camera is tilted downwards to film a shot then it is a high angle shot. All angles and height are with respect to the subject. High angle shots increase the scenic beauty and dramatic impact.
      child flying kite and watching
    • Low angle – When the camera is tilted upwards to film a shot then it’s a low angle shot. Low angles are used to excite the audience and make them go awe. It is also used to eliminate not so good foreground or separate subjects, to record a diminishing perspective, etc.
      A view of dry leaves
    • Angle-plus-angle – In this type of angle, the camera is placed at some angle with the subject while tilted either upwards or downwards.
      A samsung charger close-up view
    • Tilt angles – In this, the camera is tilted much mostly to show some accident, riot or violence.
      A samsung charger side view.

Now you know much about angles and shots to begin filming. A careful use of camera angles can add a number of emotions to the scene and story. And never be afraid to try something new, as long as it conveys the message and feeling you want to pass on, it is perfect. Our next post in this series will be about continuity in videos. Till then happy shooting!