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| Composition | | Shots, Angles and Movement |
Camera Shots, Camera Angles and Camera Movement
It's helpful, especially when working with others, to have some common terms that define the scenes and shots you are trying to capture during the production process. Producers and directors use the following terms when creating storyboards and shot-lists. Directors use them to talk to the cameraperson and to remind themselves what shots are needed to get the coverage necessary to ensure a successful edit.
The camera shot refers to the distance the camera is from the subject or how large the subject appears in the frame. There are three, four of five basic camera shots, depending on how you define them and whether you're shooting on location or in a studio. Mostly they overlap-long shots are sometimes called wide shots, wide shots are sometimes called establishment shots, etc.
Wide Shot or Establishment Shot: This shows the whole scene. Frequently, you'll see films and videos that begin with a shot that lets the audience know where they are. Julie Andrews singing "The Hills Are Alive, with the Sound of Music," while she twirls about along the side of a mountain is an example of a wide shot that pushes back into an establishment shot. A wide shot is good if there's a lot of movement. If you need to get a shot of a crowd, then you're asking for a wide shot or an establishment shot, depending on the size of the crowd.
Long or Full Shot: This shot shows less of a scene than an establishment shot. Generally, when a director calls for a long shot or a full shot, she or he wants the entire subject in the shot, the whole house, the whole car, the whole person from head to toe.
Medium Shot: This shot focuses on a particular person or an object. If you're interviewing someone in a studio, this shot would show him or her from about the waist up. If your outside and want a medium shot of some object or person, probably some portion of the person or object will be left out of the frame.
Medium Close Up: When shooting a person, this shot is also called a head and shoulder shot. For objects, the difference between a medium shot and a medium close up is pretty subjective.
Close Up Shot: This shot shows an even smaller part of the subject or scene. Great for showing detail, like the emotion on a person's face or individual leaves on a tree. If you were interviewing someone, this shot would probably show the person's head and shoulders or perhaps just their face.
Extreme Close Up Shot: is even closer than a Close Up. For example, it is just of the person's eyes, or a caterpillar chewing on a leaf.
Other shots that you should be familiar with are the over-the-shoulder shot, which has already been mentioned. Two-shots, three-shots and group shots all seem too obvious to bother explaining. The point-of-view or subjective shot indicates that the audience will see what a particular character is seeing. You've seen this shot in horror movies when the victim is hiding under the bed. The shot of the murderer's feet as he enters the room, presumably stands and looks around, is taken from the point-of-view of the victim.
The camera angle refers to the level from which the lens is pointed at the subject.
Camera angles and lenses can do a lot to alter the appearance of a scene or the subject within a scene. They help set the mood or tone and manipulate how the viewer perceives or interprets what he's watching.
Eye-level angle - Most shots of people are taken at eye level. We usually see things from our own eye-level, this perspective is most familiar to us and seems the most natural. If you're shooting a person, and you want to make it an eye-level shot, make sure you shoot at their eye-level, not yours.
Low Angle - In this shot the camera looks up at the subject, making it seem important, powerful, perhaps even larger than it really is. In film, video, theater and visual art, when one person is placed physically higher than another the psychological implication is that they are more powerful or more important than the other person. This angle might be used to represent a child looking at an adult or an adult looking at a judge in a courtroom.
High Angle - In this shot the camera looks down on the subject, decreasing its importance. The subject looks small. It often gives the audience a sense of power, or makes the subject seem helpless. An extreme version of this is the bird's eye or fate shot, in which the camera is placed directly above the subject. The psychological implication of this shot is that the subject is at the mercy of the forces around him as if he is being watched by God.
Dutch Angle or Canted Shot - This shot is achieved by tilting the camera 25 to 45 degrees to one side. Because we rarely look at the world this way willingly, this shot causes things to feel confused or out of control.
There are three ways to create movement, either the subject moves within the frame, the camera moves or both the subject and the camera move. Too much camera movement, especially if it's not executed well, can cause dizziness. On the other hand, too many static shots, especially if the composition is not very interesting, can cause your video to feel stilted. How much camera movement you choose to use is completely up to you, but your footage will look better if the camera movement you use has purpose.
Pan - A shot taken moving on a horizontal plane (from left to right or right to left). If you want to show a frisbee flying across a field, you might use this shot to follow the frisbee from one person to another.
Tilt - Camera movement in a vertical plane (up or down). If you want to show a tall building but you can't get it all in your shot, you might start at the bottom of the building and tilt up to the top.
Zoom - This shot moves you closer to the subject, from a wide shot to a medium shot or from a medium shot into a close-up. If you are shooting a crowd, you might start with a wide shot which allows you to capture the size of the crowd and then zoom in to a medium shot of one or two individuals, which allows you to get personal reactions.
Reverse Zoom - This shot moves you farther away into a Medium Shot or a Wide Shot. If you have a close up shot of a flower, and want to see the entire field that the flower is in, you will reverse zoom.
Dolly, Tracking or Traveling Shot - In a dolly shot the camera is moved toward or away from the subject. A similar effect is achieved optically with a zoom in or out. Moving the camera laterally from the left to the right or vice versa of the subject is commonly called a tracking shot.
Shooting Tip: Camera movement can add a dynamic to your project that you may not be able to achieve in any other way. But if it's done badly it will call attention to itself and take away from your story rather than enhance it. For best results, start by holding your shot steady, then make your move (pan, tilt, zoom or dolly). Once you've completed your move, hold your shot steady again. This gives the viewer a moment to get their bearings and helps enormously during the editing process. If you edit or cut away in the middle of a camera or optical move, you may make your viewer disoriented.