Camera shots, angles and movements all play a significantly important role in the making of films. Each shot, angle or movement has its own meaning with eliciting varying different forms of emotions in the audience with a preferably increasing amount of relativity in each scene. Each scene comprises of multiple shots comprised of different angles and different camera movement to keep the attention of the audience unwavering and curiously eager for the next scene. This article focuses on discussing all basic information that is there to know about different shots, angles and movement of the camera. We will start with naming various camera shots, angles and movements used: Extreme Close up shots, allows a peek into the personal space of the subject.; Close ups can display the reactions or expressions clearly.; Medium Shots cover a person from their head ending on just their waist.; Long shots cover character and premises.; Extreme long shots showing a larger location.; Single shot has on person in a frame. Two shot has two people. Three Shot has three people, so on and so forth. There are different camera angles used while shooting to display various emotions or atmosphere in a sequence, they are – Eye-Level angle as the name suggests camera is placed at the same height as that of subject’s eyes.; Low angle can be shot by positioning a camera low on the vertical axis.; High angle can be shot by placing the camera in a way that it looks down on the subject.; Birds eye view is an elevated view.; Dutch angle usually signifies the disturbed mental state of the subject.; OTS is Over The Shoulder shots.
The several camera movements that are used quite often are Zoom, Pan, Tilt, Dolly, Truck, Pedestal, Rack Focus, they each are different from the others, possessing various specific usages, in narrating the story as easily and smoothly as possible. The camera shots are often paired with different angles and various movements to shoot a sequence in the best way plausible.
The aforementioned are explained further in the following text –
- Extreme close up – this particular shot focuses on capturing minute details of the subject, it can be a shot of just an eye, fingers, a ring on a finger etcetera.
- Close up (CU) – if our subject for the shot is a person then focusing on the full face of the subject is a close up shot. It is useful and important when we have to show the facial expressions or reactions etcetera.
- Medium shot (MS) – It is a shot that features the section above the waist of the subject’s body and is used when displaying body language or gestures of person is the objective.
- Long shot (LS) – Long shot is useful when and if showing both character and premise in your frame is your goal or need of the frame. Often used to add or display action and location along with the subject.
- Extreme long shot – when showing the location is paramount for the story, to make it easy for the audience to grasp the situation easily and to give them a context of the premise with respect to character. It is mostly used as an opening shot of the film or sequence.
There are also the following –
Single shot; Two shot; Three shot etc. – These shots are determined by the number of people in a particular frame, these shots can also be combined with a CU, MS or LS.
POV – as if the audience were the subject.
Now that the camera shots have already been explained, next in the line for further elaboration are the different angles used in the making of films. The different angles convey different emotions in context with different situations.
- Eye-level – In this particular angle, the character directly looks into the camera, as the placement of the camera is as per the subject’s eye level.
- Low angle – Here the camera is placed on the ground or at a platform from where it is positioned upwards with the lens pointing downwards. It shows the character to be dominating in the frame.
- High angle – camera points down from a higher angle. It makes the character seem powerless:
- Bird’s eye view – Its live viewpoint of bird from the top, it is used when you want to show the topography of a location. Aerial shots fall under this.
- Dutch – Dutch angle is a tilted angle commonly observed in Music videos or action sequences.
- Over the shoulder (OTS) – OTS is shot of someone or something taken from the shoulder of another person, mostly used in conversation between different characters.
Moving on to the simplification of camera movements that were mentioned earlier –
- Zoom – Zoom or zooming is not really a camera movement as it doesn’t really require moving the camera body at all, despite the fact, it is nonetheless counted as a camera movement. Zoom simply enlarges or reduces the proportion of the frame taken up by the subject, in doing so, the zoom can focus attention on a particular detail, it being a very basic camera is used very freely and quite often, and for that reason it is sometimes over-used, although over-use of the zoom is often distracting as repetitiveness can make the audience subconsciously gradually loose attention and interest. A good use of a zoom might occur during a documentary interview, between actual shots, so that different frame sizes to cut to and create some visual variety are available.
- Pan – Pan or panning consists of a horizontal or a vertical movement of the camera to shoot a sequence. The camera is turned either to the left or right in panning, focusing the entire attention on a particular subject being followed. The importance of panning is not merely limited to that as it is also commonly used to survey surroundings, to reveal what is beyond the edge of the initial frame and also to place characters or objects more firmly within their existing environment. Panning can be executed with the help of a tripod easily or is possible even when the camera is handheld.
- Tilt – The tilt pivots the camera upwards or downwards, often to survey surroundings, and frequently mimics the sight of the character in point of view shots. Very small tilts and pans are used to keep a subject in the desired part of the frame as he/she makes small movements. This is known as reframing. Often unnoticeable at first, reframing is most easily spotted by looking at the corner of the frame.
- Dolly – Dolly shot, can also be referred to as a tracking shot, is the movement of the camera towards the subject or backing away from the object or subject. Dollies are often used in point of view shots to give the audience the impression of approaching someone or something with the character.
The dolly in creates a sense of moving towards an object. In contrast, though dolly and zoom look very similar at first glance, when zooming in on an object, by simply enlarging part of a frame, the object seems to be propelling itself towards the camera. In zooming the focal length of the lens is purposefully changed and varied to build tension and similarly release tension, here the camera stays at one single position, dolly zoom on the other implies the movement of camera physically. For dolly zoom the camera is mounted on a stand and then is physically moved using tracks, to move forward and backwards, in order to track the movements of the subject closely or from afar. Whereas, zoom is used to enlarge a faraway subject.
- Truck – In the tracking or trucking shot, the camera is moved to or from the left or right, often on a pre-laid track or on a specially designed truck. Tracking shots are traditionally used in order to follow movements across a frame, often moving parallel to characters or along with the subject, trucking also helps in involving the audience in characters’ actions and discussions or life, making the audience live it as a real-life moment.
- Pedestal – A pedestal movement is when you move the camera up or down on a vertical axis while it is fixated on one position or location. This particular term ‘pedestal’ came from the use of studio cameras when the operators would have to adjust the pedestal on which the camera sat on to make up for the height of the subject. A pedestal move is easy to do when the camera is fixated to an adjustable tripod. Pedestal can be used in several situations like when going for and eyeline match etcetera.
- Rack Focus – Rack focus is more of a technique than the actual movement of camera and yet this particularly essentially skill is more often than not overlooked but many beginners. Rack focus can make a frame or a scene more interesting as in this the depth of field or focus is shifted deliberately, starting with a blur and then slowly shifting the focus to make it crisper, or vice versa. It is an extremely effective way to change the audience’s focus from one subject to another.
All the above-mentioned techniques and movements and shots and angles are combined appropriately and utilised as per necessity, a beautiful smooth and attention-grabbing film can be made. They are the most basic yet important factors in film making.
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