Camera Angles


The Art of Filmmaking and Editing


Lesson Info

Camera Angles

We remember this right. remember these guys playing chess. Mmmhmm. What is this? Conflict. Conflict. And where's the camera? On the tripod. Stationary. Stationary, not moving, and what kind of conflict is it? Human versus human. Human versus human. So, way back in the beginning of the program, when we shown you this, and we were making the point about it's all about shot sequencing, and ya know, you can take this film, which is intately boring in real time, and just by moving the camera around, make it interesting, but there was conflict there, and it was human versus human, watch the shot sequence again. Where is the shot sequence? I want you to watch the shot sequence again. Notice the camera placement. (intense music) Checkmate So, this morning, I was really struck by your answers, when I asked, what was the difference between the two, because everyone of you said, well, I could feel the tension, with the shot sequenced version, and this is such a great way to poin...

t out, that it's not the shot sequencing itself, that keeps things more interesting, it's not that just you have a close up of this, and a wide shot of this, and that, and although that does help to make the film more interesting, it's the fact that what you're pointing out gives you a up close and personal way of feeling the emotion, or the conflict, that's already present, that conflict existed, with the video camera on a tripod, but your answers from this morning were so great because what it told everybody was with the shot sequence version you were able to feel it, in a way that you couldn't feel it, when it was just shot on a tripod, and that's what your job as a filmmaker is, is, Ross said this two of three times, in the past five minutes, the conflict is there. It's your job to draw out the emotion through the way, in which you select your shots, and then put them together, so that the viewer can feel, and identify the conflict. Yeah, life will present the conflict, and the filmmaker must make the audience feel the conflict. And we had a really long discussion about this last night, because, ya know, my role here, a lot of times is I come from the photography background, I don't think like he does. I don't inherently understand filmmaking principles the way that he does, and yet, because I come from this tradition of education with photographers, because of Monty, and because our equipment, like now, gives us the ability to do this, how to we take what he knows, and what his background is, and translate it into our own experience in a way that we can grasp it, that we can understand it, and that we can go duplicate it. So, we're making great films for our clients, and doing something that's really more fulfilling, and let me tell ya, once you get the filmmaking bug, you kind of wanna stop taking pictures a little bit, it's really, really addicting, so be careful, but when we were discussing this, I'm like Ross, ya know what with your conflict stuff, I understand what you're saying, I see the six categories, and they make intellectual sense to me, but I have no idea what that means for me, as a photographer, or as a filmmaker, how am I supposed to take what I see here, and use it in a way, that's gonna improve my films, I don't understand. We got into this, guess what, a little conflict, at the table, trying to figure out how to present it, and when he was in the middle of explaining it, he's like, it's just like that chess piece, ya know, the conflict was there, but when you watch it on the tripod, you don't feel it, it's the shot sequencing that allows you to feel it, and that's when it clicked for me, that's when it was like, got it. So, Ross is a really, really, advanced in thinking, like filmmakers. We cam take all of these things, break em down into their individual components, and then use them, in a way that makes sense. So, now when you think about shooting your film, or what your story is, you'll be able to not just identify conflict, and say okay, there's gonna be conflict in the situation, what is it? But now, how can I choose my shots, in such a way, that it'll really highlight it? For example, when Ross did Ruthie opening the gift he did a close up on her face, while she's reading to heighten that emotion, and that tension, or the feeling of love, that's present from her reading this. If he had done it from way back, it wouldn't have felt the same way. So, it's finding where that conflict is, where that emotion is, and then pulling it out of the situation. And, and I love, what's so funny, is I'm on a lot of film sets. I've done six feature films, short films, TV pilots, commercials, whatever, and the first time I heard this was on my first movie ever, and our music supervisor was there, and he was standing over here, right here, and I was over here framing the shot, and he said, the words, that you never say on a film set, yo, you should put the camera over here, it looks really cool. First of all, if you're on a film set, that's not proper etiquette, you don't ever tell the director, where to put the camera, but if you understand what he said, it's put the camera over here, it looks cool. First of all, you cannot look at a shot, with your eyes, because you have two eyes, and the camera only has one, okay. So, you need to see things with one eye, that's number one, number two, camera angles do not determine conflict. Conflict determines where you put the camera. So, when you're putting, when you're framing your shots, and we talk about wide, medium, close, yes, those have emotional impact, but the camera angle, in which you shoot it has psychological impact on your story. By camera angle, you're referring to where the placement of the camera is in relation to the subject. Exactly, height of the camera, ya know, the angle of the face, whatever it may be, the angle will determine have psychological effect on the story, and the reason why I wanted you to watch the chess piece, the shot sequence version is because it's no coincidence where the camera is pointing, on the characters, and the emotion, that you're feeling, it's not by accident, it's because of where I put the camera, in relation with the music, to the cutting. Everything all comes together to be one film, and you don't see the elements, but ya know, I wanna train you, and I wanna train everyone at home, when you see a movie, it's like, when they see like a, talk about a great quarter back, or a great point guard, they see the game in slow motion, they always say that, it's a quote, ya know, it's like everything's happening so fast, but they see it in slow motion, you need to be able to watch movies in slow motion, and see the elements, see the editing, see the cinematography, feel the emotion of the scene, and see, well, where's the camera angle, so, let's get into, what camera angles mean, and how they work. These are the camera angles, that we're gonna talk about. Mmmkay, they all have a psychological impact, and let's talk about the high angle shot. Camera's placed above the subject, okay, pointing down on the subject, to put them in a vulnerable position, so, the loser of that chess match, if you go back, and watch it, almost every shot of him, the camera is above his head, shooting down on him to make it feel vulnerable, and we're gonna see it again tomorrow, so, you can look for that, okay, and here's what it looks like. That work on both the emotional, and unpleasant physical symptoms of depression. Visit to learn more about these symptoms. So, you see, camera's way above her, notice the framing of the shot, look at all that negative space behind her, and I put her at the bottom right of the frame. I didn't put her up, and fill the frame with her. I put all the space above her head and behind her. So, there's two psychological things going, with the framing. I leave all that negative space, show empty chairs, and show that she's isolated and alone, and then I put the camera down on her, and then of course, she's watching the commercial, that is from my film, that we watched the intro for, that you guys all, you saw her anyway. Low angle shot, this is to put, the camera goes down, and you shoot up on your character to out them in a position of power, go back to the chess thing, we'll see it again tomorrow, but the winner, every shot of him was from an up angle. The shot through the railing was like this. There was almost a shot under him, shooting right up on him. There was yeah, under the table, through the glass. All of those things, put him in the position of power. You don't see it, and recognize it, when it's happening, but you feel it in real time, and it all goes back to what we, Jeff made the point with the pictures, with the photographs, You're looking at a photograph, and you have time to reflect, in film, you just, all it is is reaction, reaction, reaction, reaction, reaction and you have no time to sort of process. So, that's why all of these tricks work, because there's no time to actually think about, what it looks like. If we were to have filmed that, in the opposite way, where the loser was always in a position of power, from camera angle, and vice versa, and use exactly the same shots, in exactly the same order, with the exception of the angle, it would feel very, very different. It would still work, but it wouldn't feel the same way. You wouldn't feel the victory and the defeat, for each character, and this Clay Blackmore's a good friend of ours, and me and him would get in ya know, we went of a 30 city tour together. So, we got in arguments, every flight we would annoy people on camera position, because I understand the photographer's mindset, where shooting down on a person makes them look thinner, and shooting up on a person makes them look heavier, right. In film, you're gonna have to let that go, and understand that, psychological impact matters more, and that's my opinion on camera position and height for filmmaking, you can take your photography knowledge, and try to fuse it in with that. My personal advice is stick with the psychological impact, that these shots have, take a look at what a low angle shot does to a person, in a position of power, and the person he's talking to, notice how the camera's pointing down on him, and there is a high angle shot in here as well. Paul, you're never gonna get away with this, one phone call to my uncle. Listen Bryce really carefully, when your uncle, my boss, he presented us with a problem, a problem, in which we solve will take us right to the top, and just because things are getting harder, instead of easier, you just wanna throw in the white flag, that is unacceptable, and you wanna find out what your Uncle Will said, let's do it, Sam get John on the line. So, what happened there, he's having an intense conversation, there's conflict. The one character, who's in the vulnerable position, the camera's slightly above him, camera's shooting way up on our character in power, and then what happened, half way through the scene? It went from a wide shot into a medium shot, or even I would call it a medium. Still, a lower camera angle. Yeah, still a lower camera angle. So, you notice, how as the intensity of the scene peaked, I went in to just, basically as, never met Monty, butt I heard, Jeff quote him a million times, remove the distractions, when it's time to focus in psychologically, I want someone saying remove the distractions, and go into close to him, and really get that impact. Talk about an eye level shot, zero psychological effect whatsoever, but so important, because if you don't get this right, all of your other shots are affected. It's just like the close up, if you use the close up so much, too much, which I was guilty of, a few years ago, close up happy, I would call myself, and I look at the film now, and I'm like oh my god, what was I thinking, right, because they're easier to make than wide shots. All your shots lose their impact, and then you won't have any control. No reference point. Yeah, you have no control over the psychological impact of each shot. So, take a look at what I, eye level shot looks like, and it's really designed to let the person in front of the camera, take over, and do whatever it is, that they have the ability to do. Are you serious, I mean The Honeymoon is the, it's the greatest show ever, Lisa and Connie, they're hilarious, to the moon hours. (actor laughs) Oh, I soil every time I watch that show, yeah. What do you like? Family Affair, oh that's funny, yeah, yeah, yeah, Mr. French, she's a riot. Who's your favorite stute, Larry? You're not right, you're just not right. Front to la'bottom, I gotta go, I gotta client. Clud, what a character he is, but you see, no psychological effect, we really didn't feel anything, we thought it was funny great, or we didn't think it was funny, whatever, but the point is, is in that scene, it does come to a peak of psychology, of there is a climax of that scene, there is a point. So, it's very important, that I intro the scene correctly, with eye level shots, so that when it's time to divvy out, the positions of power, when it's time to make that impact, there's a difference in the way the shot looks, which will, ya know, make you guys the viewers feel, what I want you to feel. Point of view shot, I use, I love first person view, that's like one of my favorite things, and Scott, if Scott's watching, he's probably laughing right now, cause he knows exactly what I'm gonna say, but me and Scott came up together as filmmakers, and he, there's two things he would yell at me, all the time for you, is you do first person view way too much, and you do too much voice over. Well, I'm guilty as charged, but I really do like it, because first person view is designed to give you that, you see what the character sees, and this is done a lot, when you're doing a first person narrative type of story, and we're not gonna get into the types of narratives, that's really deep into psychology of filmmaking, but it is in my book. Let's take a look at what the point of view shot looks like, and how you sort of establish that. (intense music) You see, show the character, show what they're seeing, and there's what's, like a I said, every sequence has a climax, show him, he shakes the eight ball up, and he's looking at it, and you see his reaction to it, and what's the first thing you think, what's the eight ball say? And the moment you ask that question, I have you, you're, you're done, because, ya know, I can make that eight ball say. Ruthie reading the card, showing the card was first person view. Yes, first person view. So, what does that mean, if the foreground of the back of his head was in the shot, that would not be first person. I have to sort of come in to the direct view of the character, and we probably will do this in the shoot tomorrow, where I'll show first person views, of what Kevin's seeing in the shoot, and I'll explain why I'm doing it in certain spots, because you can't just over use it, or Scott will yell at you, I hope he's watching that'd be so funny. Birds eye view, we've seen this a lot, and it's basically, the camera goes, where the bird would go, and you're just shooting above someone's head, and you're seeing what they see, and here we're in the lab, he's making his antidepressants, and we have the camera up, and we, we use this to establish a lot, we wanna have the audience sort of look over the scene, in a, unexpected, almost non-human vantage point, if that makes sense, we wanna, you gotta think about, the camera is the viewer, that's what the camera is, so, every time you place it in a position, the height, the lens you put on it, the movement you're gonna add to it, you, the filmmaker are telling the viewer, this is how I want you to view this shot, this is how I want you to view this scene. I can put the viewer anywhere in the room I want, and I'm putting it here, and always ask yourself why. Dutch camera angle, this is not something I do often. So, I don't even have a clip to show you, but basically, all it is, is just tilt the camera slightly off axis, and you're supposed to give a feeling of disorientation. So, if you have a scene, where, ya know, you want a character, or something to feel disoriented, if you just have the camera, and you turn it like this, it'll feel disoriented, and the best way to make this successful is to have a very de-script background. So, ya know, if you tip a camera, in photography, and there's like just a background, like a plain background, you won't see the tip, it'll just frame the shot the way you want, but if you do it, and there's a building behind you, it'll look like the building's falling over, and that's like a no no in photography, in filmmaking that's the whole idea, is to make it look like the world's tipping over, just slightly, not like, don't shoot vertical, you can't shoot vertical video, but just turn it slightly like that, and you'll get that concept. Weren't the chess pieces tipped, a little bit. No. No. No. Just not shot, not shot in parallel. Not shot, yeah, not shot straight on. So, everyone's been asking, what's the instant where there is no conflict, and I like to call that a high concept film, and I started out in filmmaking as a script writer, and that's how I, ya know, I was playing freshman poker, and writing scripts simultaneously, and that's how I started, and the one thing I learned from submitting scripts to studios, and ya know, pitch people whatever, they would always ask for a high concept film. A lot of people ask for this, and basically the idea is, if your film cannot be described in one sentence, not high concept, if you have to elaborate anymore on what is is, then it doesn't fall in the category of high concept. Same things goes for short films, like we're making with weddings, and birth announcements, and ya know things like that, there might not always be conflict, that might not be the best way to go. So you might wanna do something like a concept film. So, here is another film from our friends at Everynone. Yeah, the moments film that we watched earlier is high concept. Yeah. It's, the idea is, that there's a concept, there are all these moments, there all connected together, and there's no conflict, there's a concept, that you're trying to get your viewer to be attached to, and interested in, and thinking about, in relation to their own life. And the cool thing about that one was is don't even really know what the concept is, and that's sort of when it's up to the viewer. When I see that film, I think it's the senses, the five senses. Some people think life, some people think oh, it's, ya know, a series of moments that collect, but that's the fun of it, yes. I just have a, a comment that I love that, a question had come in about what was the conflict in that, in the moments film. There wasn't, high concept. They're paying attention, they're smart, they're getting it. Awesome, so we have another film by Everynone, again, that's Everynone,, you can go, this one's called words. And that's not even sentence, it's just one word, words, and this is what a concept film would look like. (light piano music) (children laugh) Here, the back's coming up over here, the end is pinching Play ball. (trumpet music) (baby crying) (birds chirping) You breaking up man, I can't hear you. Gonna run away, I'm serious, I'm gonna run away. Flight 022, meet to approach your clear for runway 2,7 (class laughs) That is not gonna fly. I'm falling, and I. Light as a feather, come on, light as a feather, light. (child laughs) Let there be light. (thunder) (audience claps) So, you see, with that, everything was camera on a tripod, right. There was no shot sequencing, cause there was one take, one scene, or every shot had nothing in its own environment connected to it, and yet the concept, everything relates to itself. So, great storytelling. So we have time for questions, or should we do that after a break? I think we can take a couple questions, to finish out this segment, so, Mallory, you start. Sure, we have Fashion TV from Singapore. Hi, Fashion TV, how do you determine how long, how many seconds or minutes et cetera, you need to capture all the different angles, and shots to be impactful. Is there a guideline, for all these different angles? Oh, What's The Last Question? Is there a guideline, for all the angles. In terms Of Length, Length Of The Shots. I think he's asking for length. So, just how long, you recommend from each angle? I'm not gonna say that there is a set length for each angle, because that has to do with pace of a film. I thought the question was gonna be. You look really excited. How long the films are supposed to be, and if everyone has a pen, please write this down. [Assistant Laughs] It should be as long as it is good. But, you just talked about the fourth section. I did Yeah. Oh, did I. Yeah. Oh well. So, forget he said that, and don't tweet it as a good quote, until after we talk about it in the next segment. It's building suspense. But showing shots and angles, and things of that nature is all about the pace of a film, and that is going to just come with editing stuff, and I even tell people, like screw up, just don't be afraid to just take chances, and edit things, and see how they fit, how they work, and you'll start to feel the pace of a film, you can feel it, it's like a rhythm, ya know, bob your head to the music, ya know, you can't dance, be sure to bob your head on the beat. If it, if it drags to you, that maybe a good indication, depending on your tolerance for pain, but if it drags to a random stranger, which is probably the best way to check somebody who's not interested in you, or your project or whatever, and they're watching it, and they're like, yeah this drags, then that's probably the best way to determine, when somebody who's uninterested in you, or your project, looks at it, and says it's too long or it's. I would never put anything out there on YouTube, or my clients, without having, just some random people watch it, because after you've edited it, you're numb, you don't know. And the clients are gonna like it, cause it's of them, right. So, they're not gonna tell you the truth anyway. So, always have a random person check it. I keep talking about friends Scott and Jeff, they actually both think very similar, and I am on this other side of the spectrum of life, and when I have them critique my film, it's like this is how I, they are sitting, and I'm like pacing behind them, and I can just see them thinking, all the terrible thoughts, right, and I hate the way they think, in a lot of situations, and hate the way they critique, but it's a necessary critique, because I always say, ya know, when I'm the write of a product, I just did a TV pilot, and I was the writer, and I directed it. I won't edit it, I can't, it's too much Ross, it's too much of my stamp. Too much of my voice. You have to get other voices in there. So, that's why I like getting critiqued by Jeff, and by Scott, is because I know their minds of film are so across the spectrum. We don't like the same movies. We can't agree on anything, and that's the idea is sort of a checks and balances system in film, because too much of anything is bad, ya know, you don't wanna be templated into a style so to speak. That's awesome, I love it. Okay, one more quick question from Duke in Park City. So, during a story would you for example, use a high angle approaching, Alright, somebody just there we go, would you use a high angle approaching conflict and switch to a low angle during resolution is that something that you might do? Think of the angles as in what, who you're shooting the character, and what, what's their role in the story. So, I use the high angle, if I wanna make somebody feel vulnerable. So, like we showed the shot of her watching the antidepressant commercial. I want people to feel sorry for her. So, I put the camera up high. Sometimes I may put the camera at a higher angle, and shoot down on a bride, because they're female, sometimes they're crying, and they're vulnerable in that emotional moment, of exchanging wedding vows. So, just arching the camera up a little bit it's gonna enhance that a little more, ya know and then if somebody's giving a great speech at a wedding, and it's like the best man's speech, and he's like, he's gotta drink in his hand, he's feeling real good. I may put the camera just a little bit lower, and make him feel a little more powerful, and a little more authoritative, right, people will listen to his speech more, as it, opposed to putting the camera up higher. So, think about what the character's role in the conflict is, not so much the conflict itself, what you're trying to make that, make the viewer perceive that character as.

Class Description

Have you ever thought about using your talents, training and equipment to design moving images to tell a story? This film workshop is your opportunity to learn how to become a visual storyteller with Jeff Medford and Ross Hockrow. Whether you're a photographer or an aspiring filmmaker, you will come out of this class with all of the skills to produce web commercials, wedding, birth, family and event films.

Discover what you'll need for your camera bag, lighting, how to shoot a conversation - all during a live shoot! You'll learn how to create a story throughout the editing process. This film workshop is 3 days of non-stop information, all of which will allow you to expand your business and increase your profits.