Top 15 Camera Angles and Shots Explained
Whether you’re new to cinematography or you’ve been working in video production for a very long time, you know that camera angles and shots come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some camera angles are devoid of motion, others include a unique mix of motion and angle to produce a strong cinematic foundation. Follow along as we discuss camera angles, shot sizes, and movements that can be mixed and matched throughout your production to produce wildly vivid shoots. These are the 15 camera angles and shots that ever cinematographer has in their back of tricks.
If you’re a beginner, familiarizing yourself with these basic elements of shot composition and the communication of emotions that come from each will help you to be the best cinematographer you can be.
We’re explaining all of the top camera angles, shots and motions that you have to work with to produce powerful connections with your audience. Mixing and matching the camera angles and shots along with movements allows for infinite variety in your cinematography.
Camera Angles Explained
Camera angles are marked by the location in which the camera is placed when taking a shot. Several camera angles exist in cinematography and the angle at which you place the camera will play a key role in the delivery of emotion and connection with your audience.
The camera angle will change the perception that your audience has on the scene or characters of the scene.
Camera angles can add a level of engagement and meaning to the scene. Use camera angles to set the mood of the shot and create powerful relationships with your audience.
The eye-level camera angle points directly straight at the subject for an objective view from the camera. This is the most basic of camera angles, but when combined with shot sizes or movements the eye-level camera angle, although basic, can be very powerful.
The low angle camera view produces a dominating view of the subject by pointing up towards the scene from a lower angle. Sometimes referred to as the “Worm’s View” this angle can make the character appear larger than life and as if they have power. Use the low angle to show tension growing in a scene.
The high angle camera view comes from a higher angle and looks down at the character or subject on the set. Sometimes called the “Bird’s Eye View” or the “Top Angle” this represents a time when the viewer can see the full aerial view of the location. This is great to produce drama as well as to make the character appear isolated.
Also called the “Tilted Angle,” the Dutch angle is used to produce a sense of something being off-kilter and is common in horror films. This camera angle is used to make the audience specifically feel like something isn’t right as attention is drawn specifically to the fact that the frame is unbalanced.
Over the Shoulder
Technically not only a camera angle but also sometimes a shot, the over the shoulder can be used to show a level of confrontation. Often used in dialogue and especially when two characters are arguing, this shot is used to show the main character over the shoulder or another.
Knowing your camera angles is the first step to using cinematography techniques to your advantage in creating a captivating experience for your audience.
Camera Shot Sizes Explained
Camera shots are described as a series of frames that are produced uninterrupted for a specific period of time. The camera begins rolling for a shot and, when the camera stops rolling the shot is complete.
When being edited, the shot is the continuation of footage or the sequence of footage between the two edits. Various shot sizes can be used to further evoke emotion and connection between your audience and your characters or the scene of your film.
The most common shot sizes include:
A view of the face usually in which features are noticeable and expressions can be seen to show depth of emotion in the character and connect with the audience. Variations of the close up shot include the extreme close up and the partial close up. Build credibility with close up shots.
A view of the location in which the character is present and fully visible in addition to the surrounding scene. The long shot is used to show the audience where the scene is taking place and what is about to happen. Variations of the long shot include the extreme long shot which focuses solely on the location more than the character.
a view that shows usually half of the subject and is used to show body language that will further help the audience to connect while eliminating the distractions of background elements, the medium shot is commonly used to help viewers understand the reactions of a character.
Single, Two Shot or Three Shot
The single shot, or two shot, or three shot is used to show several people in a scene. The number is based on the total number of people in the shot. This shot is generally used to give the viewer an idea of who the scene is about and what characters will be performing actions in the upcoming scene.
Aiming toward the audience as the subject, the POV shot is used to have the audience connect in a way that makes them feel like they are the subject of the film and in the film itself.
Camera Motion Explained
Camera motions can further add complex value to your shoot. Acting as one of the most expressive options you have to connect with the audience, camera movements and motion help you to alter the existing relationship between your subject and the camera in a way that can be used to effectively shape the time, and perception of the space within the scene.
Camera angles are important as they allow the ability to adjust the attention of the audience, change expressions, and reveal space offscreen that will add to the story.
This movement is used to provide a full showcase of your subject all the way around as the camera moves in a full circle around the subject. Many 360 degree motions are performed with a dolly or via the Steadicam.
Moving the camera closer to the subject or further away to make an emotional connection and a statement to the audience, the zoom shot can be achieved in several ways. A zoom on dolly can be used to create very powerfully and emotionally moving scenes.
Pan and Tilt
This camera movement involves observing a specific point on the scene and following the subject throughout the scene as movement pivots in a distinct manner. The pan and tilt is used to give the audience a feeling as if they are watching the situation unfold as a spectator.
Tracking Shot, Crane Shot, Dolly Shot
An involved means of following the subject often carried out with a crane or dolly, the tracking shot involves providing the audience a glimpse into the subject and the surrounding location that can draw the audience into the scene and make them feel more connected.
Changing the camera motion, such as shaking it, to produce a desired energy can also be used on the set. Various random motions and movements are used throughout cinematography to further connect with the audience and pull off some of the hardest to evoke emotions.