How To Improve Your Video Project With Filmmaking Camera Angles

Did you know that the panorama shot was only invented in 1987? Before then, you could only capture movement on film by moving the entire video camera. Thanks to technological advancements, there are so many different film shots available today.

But even if you’re a seasoned professional, it’s easy to stick to the same filmmaking camera angles. You might need a quick refresher on all the options you have before your next video project. It could be the push you need to make the cinematography more daring and interesting.

Lucky for you, this guide lists all the essential camera angles, movements, and shots you need to know!

Long Shot or Wide Shot

When referring to movie shot types, you always use people as a reference. Long shots (or wide shots) are camera angles that encompass an entire person’s body in the frame.

You might use the term wide shot to talk about a shot of a landscape or an establishing shot. To capture these shots, you’ll need to rent a wide-angle lens from a filmmaking equipment store like Reel Men Rentals.

Medium Shot

Medium shots feature a subject from the knees or waist up. This shot is often used when the script elements include a conversation between one or more characters.

It’s uncommon to use this shot when you only have one subject in the frame. That is unless they are holding or referencing something else in the frame that’s of interest.

Close-Up Shot

Close-up shots are one of the most essential filmmaking camera angles. The subject’s face fills out almost the entire frame. It could also feature a close-up of one body part like a hand or foot. 

Cinematographers use this shot to capture emotion and detail in a character’s face. It also might be to make the character seem trapped or create a claustrophobic feel.

Extreme Close Up Shot

Extreme close-up shots go one step further and focus on one small detail or movement. This could be of a person blinking, licking their lips, or slipping a ring off their finger.  

You can use these types of filmmaking camera angles so the audience does not miss whatever detail is in the frame. It’s likely important to the plot.

High Angle Shot

High angle shots are where the camera is higher than the subject it is shooting and tilted downwards. In the video production process, cinematographers and directors often use this shot to make the subject appear small or weak.

Low Angle Shot

The opposite of a high angle shot, a low angle shot is where the camera tilts upwards from a lower position than the subject. This type of angle makes the subject look bigger, stronger, or more powerful.

It’s a common angle that filmmakers use to shoot cities with tall buildings. These shots make the city look more crowded and intimidating.

Over-the-Shoulder Shot

This is an essential camera angle that you should have in your filmmaking arsenal. An over-the-shoulder shot is where you shoot one subject by positioning the camera next to a different subject.

This allows you to focus on one subject while not leaving the other out of the scene. It’s also a great shot to use if the characters are going to interact later in the conversation. For example, if they kiss or if one of them slaps the other.

Point-of View-Shot

This type of shot is popular in horror and “found footage” genre movies. Point-of-view shots are camera angles that mimic what a character is seeing. So, the cinematographer either needs to take the place of the actor or be next to them to capture this shot.

Aerial or Bird’s Eye View Shot

Aerial shots are a more extreme version of the high-angle shot. Imagine what a bird would see when flying over the top of a scene and you’ve got the right idea. If you’re shooting an exterior scene, you may need to shoot from a helicopter to capture this footage.

But it’s easy to do inside a studio. Reference one of the murder scenes in Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) to see a great example of an aerial camera angle.

Dutch or Canted Angle Shot

Dutch or canted angle shots are frames that are not straight on. It’s almost as if someone nudged the camera a little. These camera angles make the audience feel uneasy and disorientated. 

There are some great examples of dutch angles in 12 Monkeys (1995) and The Dark Knight (2008).

Dolly Zoom Camera Effect

Some cinematographers view this filmmaking camera angle as a gimmick. But it can be effective when used for appropriate scenes.

It’s achieved by zooming in or out with a zoom camera lens. At the same time and the same pace, the physical camera moves in the opposite direction on a dolly. The purpose of this shot is to increase the tension.

Some examples of the dolly zoom are in Vertigo (1958), Jaws (1975), and Goodfellas (1990).

Pan Camera Movement

Pan or panorama shots are an example of a moving camera angle. The cinematographer keeps the camera level but moves it on a horizontal line from right to left or vice versa. This is a great shot for when you need to follow characters walking.

Tilt Camera Movement

This is the opposite of a panorama shot. Instead of moving right and left, this movement describes when the camera moves up and down. This is the perfect camera angle for when you want to reveal a character from their shoes to their face.

Tracking Camera Movement

Tracking shots are a little different to tilt and pan shots. The camera itself does not move, but it sits on equipment that allows it to follow movement in the frame. This could be via a crane, dolly, or even handheld.

Use These Filmmaking Camera Angles to Power Up Production Values

By using a mixture of different filmmaking camera angles, you will make your project look more professional. You can also use them to convey certain emotions and subtext that will support the messaging of your video.

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