Filmmakers always search for the perfect angle to express their ideas. Unless you’re Charlie Chaplin, who said he didn’t need interesting camera angles as he himself was interesting. The camera is the vision that provides the story the maker is eager to tell. A filmmaker must know what angles are needed for the script to give the audience enough hints. The more interesting your camera angles get, the audience will get more indulged with your storytelling. Today we are going to provide you with the segment of camera shot angles. Later on, we will discuss camera shot size, camera shot framing, camera shot focus, and, of course, camera movement.
What Is A Camera Shot Angle? Why Is It Important?
A camera shot angle is used to understand where you need to place your camera. The position of the camera will define how the audience perceives the character in focus. A scene from the script can be shot with multiple camera angles to provide a sufficient cinematic transition. The camera angle delivers the note of understanding of the frame.
As an audience, what you see is the position of the subject in a frame. The angles, in particular, provide you with the opportunity to explore the ideology behind the shot. It is crucial for an art film as there are critical aspects that stand alone in making the story greatly sufficient to the intuitive mind. So, in many ways, a camera shot angle is something a budding filmmaker must learn before telling the story.
Types of Camera Shot Angles
Eye Level Shot: Shots can define the characters as superior or inferior. But in this sort of angle, the character is placed within your eye contact level. It helps the audience understand the familiarity the character poses. From this angle, the audience sees the character as they see any regular person in normal life. For example, in “American Psycho,” when Christian Bale is removing the face mask, the shot is taken at eye level to provide us with the knowledge that he is just a regular person we visit regularly.
Low Angle Shot: This angle is used to provide the audience with the perspective the character in the frame poses. When there is a character who is supreme and has a dynamic nature, this angle helps to make the audience understand the superiority of the character. For example, in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Darth Vader was introduced through a low-angle shot as he obtained supreme force within himself.
High Angle Shot: When a character in a frame is having trouble with inferiority or thinks less of himself, then this sort of angle is used. It helps the audience to understand whether the character is going through a bad phase, such as denial or inferiority. An example of a visceral high angle shot (one of many types of high angle shots) can be found in the first act of “Titanic,” when Rose feels so empty that she decides to jump off.
There are a few rule-breaking uses for this shot too. Like in “Shawshank Redemption,” we can see after Andy got out of the prison, he was hit with a high-angle shot to spotlight his triumph. So, in other words, high-angle shots do not necessarily need to mean inferiority at times. It is always about the execution of the shot.
Hip Level Shot or the Cowboy Shot: This kind of shot is exquisitely used for the actions that are happening around the waist area or precisely in the hip area of the concerned character. If the character is drawing a pistol or a certain important prop. The idea of a cowboy shot is to represent the protagonist of the story as heroically as possible. It describes a certain hint of confidence and actions around the waistline. An example of a modern cowboy shot can be seen in the movie “Fight Club,” where Brad Pitt has kept his left hand on his waist, and Edward Norton has put his hands straight down. This proclaims the confidence in Brad Pitt while Edward Norton is full of dilemma and despair.
Knee Level Shot: This shot is often used to express the superiority of the character. It is not a ground-level shot but a little higher than the toe. It especially focuses on the knee portion of the character and then follows the approach. This kind of shot can be well seen in the introduction of an important character into the plot.
Ground Level Shot: It is a basic level shot to provide the audience with an idea of what is happening on the ground. It helps the audience to have a vibe of the atmosphere of the frame. For example, in Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” we see the ground-level shot when Clark attempts his first flight.
Shoulder Level Shot: This is when your camera is at the same height as the character. It is often recommended to do the shoulder-level shot rather than the eye-level shot, as this has fewer opportunities for constitutional mistakes. Shoulder-level shots, if paired with low-angle shots, can prolifically establish a superior effect on the character. Just like in “No Country for Old Men,” most of the time, this shot is used to establish the character of Anton Chigurh.
Dutch Angle Shot: Dutch has nothing to do with the shot’s origin. It refers to the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. It actually created a number of words like “Dutch Wife,” “Dutch Courage,” “Going Dutch,” etc. Anyway, this shot is non-traditional. In this, the camera gets a bit tilted on the camera’s ‘x-axis.’ Guy Ritchie mostly uses this shot. Quentin Tarantino, in his “Inglorious Bastards,” has used this shot multiple times.
Bird’s Eye Shot: It is basically an over-the-top shot of the surroundings. Capturing the character with a large amount of area can leave an astounding remark on the audience. Not to mention, over-the-top shots have their own enchantment. For example, we all remember the poster of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” don’t we?
An Aerial Shot: This is basically a drone shot or helicopter shot that establishes a huge scenic progression of the plot. Aerial shots can never be mistaken for bird’s-eye views. It is a shot that represents the stage where the story is taking place. The opening shot of “Blade Runner” can be taken as an example.
So, here are the most crucial shots that are used in filmmaking. Angles are always the platform for improvisation. Before improvising angles, it is necessary to create the atmosphere. The high angle shot can be used both to show the negativity and the super positive notion of the character. If the establishment is perfect, then the angle itself will deliver the right message. If Andy in “Shawshank Redemption” was hiding his face in despair rather than experiencing the joy of freedom, the angle would have established a completely different story. So, it is not only the grammar but the exact reasoning for selecting the angle that is very important.
See More: ‘Camera Shots’ And Types of Camera Shots In Filmmaking, Explained