Exploring camera angles
Suitable for year levels: 5-VCE
Learning areas: Drama, English, Media & Media Arts, Technologies, the Arts
Capabilities: Creative and critical thinking, Personal and social capabilities
You've hopefully learnt all about shot types, now it's on to the camera angles you can use in conjunction with those shots. The way the camera is angled can contribute to the meaning the audience will get from the shot and can be used to make characters look strong, weak, intimidating, inferior. They can also help an audience get a sense for what a character is experiencing and what they are feeling; all these by simply changing the angle of the camera.
The most standard camera angle is shooting from eye-level. In fact a large percentage of shots are from eye-level, it’s easy and it’s a natural perspective for the viewer to see characters from.
Low-angle is when the camera is placed well below eye-level to face up at a character or object. The effect is this will change depending on the intent of the director or cinematographer. For example, looking up at a character can make them look heroic and strong. But take the same angle and face it up at an evil character, and they will look scary and intimidating. Sometimes you’ll see really low angle shots, where the camera is looking up from the ground. This can make a character look tall and strong, but because the angle is unnatural in the sense it’s not a perspective any human would have (unless you were an inch tall) it can make the audience feel something unusual, unnatural, or even supernatural is happening.
High angle is obviously the of a low angle. The camera is placed above a character or characters and angled downwards towards them. Again, the effect of this will differ depending on how it’s being used. Sometimes the high-angle is used to make characters look small and weak. It might also make them look cute. It’s also often used to suggest something significant is happening high above the characters.
Also known as ‘canted’ angle or sometimes an ’oblique' angle, a dutch angle shot is where the camera is not level, but angled to the left or the right, putting the camera frame off kilter.
Like an extremely low angle shot, this angle is an unnatural one and can make the audience feel a little off; giving them the sense something is not right. Often this angle is used when a character is experiencing something unusual or distressing. The idea is usually to convey what the character is going through by making the audience experience it through an angle that might make them feel a little weird.