Moving Image Production

Camera Angle Techniques

Factual Programmes use a variety of camera shots to convey scenes in a film, these techniques, of course, are chosen with care based on the subject and the individual camera shot used could have greater, subconscious reasoning; for example, a dolly zoom shot is synonymous with horror/thriller genre of films and creates an effect of tension or dread, used famously in Jaws and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead.

As a group, we practised some of these techniques around our place of learning; West Cheshire College. After we had collated these shots, an evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses and whether there would be a possibility of their inclusion into the factual programme that we will produce would be carried out.

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 Arc Shot

Either produced with the aid of a tripod or not, an arc shot circles around a subject. It’s quite popular in set design such as BBC Breakfast news. It captures both the subject and the surrounding location, but the techniques is limited to a small space and relies mainly on the participants being stationary. This shot could definitely be included in the final film; especially during interviews.

Close, Medium & Long Shots

These camera shots are staples of any production. Close-ups capture emotion and keeps only the face visible in the frame. Medium shots, made famous by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, includes head and chest in shot and finally, the long shot draws the distance from the individual or subject; and in terms of an actor/actress, has their whole body in the frame. In terms of our film project, the close and medium shots will be used frequently, but until the subject matter of the documentary is known, the long shot may be used sparingly.

Cowboy Shot

Sergio Leone immortalised the Cowboy Shot in his direction of the Spaghetti Western films. Shot from behind the thigh of the individual in the foreground, the background could have a protagonist in the background. This shot creates tension and suspense. Just like the previous category of techniques, the subject of the film relies very much of whether this shot will be included.

Establishing Shot

At the start of a scene, an establishing shot is recorded so that the audience is aware of location, time of day etc. For our example, we took a shot of the front doors of the college and then combined tilting and zoom to focus on the West Cheshire College.

Handheld Shot

Holding the camera during motion creates an amateur feel and evokes tension and suspense due to the uncertainty of the perspective. Strengths include the ability to film footage at pace and is very immersive, but because of this, the quality suffers. The use of this shot is a possibility, increasingly so whilst on location and on the move.

High & Low Angle Shots

These two angles are the anthesis of each other and make the subject look either dominant or making them look isolated and small. Both of these are more of a film device rather than a factual programme technique so the chances of their inclusion will be minimal; although, a low angle shot is good to give the impression of making cities look empty.

Over The Shoulder Shot

This was carried out on the first floor of the college whilst Adam and Saskia were having a conversation. The shot implies a connection between the speakers and also makes the audience feel part of the conversation. This technique will be used heavily during interview sequences.

Zoom

The zoom technique was used a number of times throughout this exercise, can be combined with different techniques and is cancels out the distance between the subject and the camera. Its only weaknesses are that sound becomes an issue the further you film from, more so when filming people.

There are a variety of other shots too that we practised as well as some we were unable to do due to equipment and other reasons including the aerial shot which would have required a helicopter or a crane to film exterior shots of locations. Bridging shots can be used to illustrate passing of time, e.g. a line across an animated map from location A to location B. This camera technique can also be used to connect two shots from the same scene. Keeping the foreground, middle ground and back ground all in sharp focus through adjusting the zoom, the deep focus shot is used if there is more than one point of interest and used if something in the background is relevant to nearer the lens.

Dutch Tilts are shot tilting the camera on its side to create disorientation. Effective when dealing with subject matter such as substance abuse as it recreates the feeling of unbalance. Locked Down Shots are when the camera is fixed in one position whilst the scene continues to play out even if it runs out of shot- powerful in factual programming because for capturing life with a natural quality. Money Shots are extravagant, expensive set-pieces or events that will attract interest and have the power to wow audiences. In terms of factual programmes, this could take the form of an explosion or a sporting spectacle.

Pan Shots and Tilt Shots are when the camera is continuously moved from left to right and up and down respectively; used to capture locations or in terms of a tilt shot, is traditionally used as the final scene as it draws up to the sky. Taking a first-person perspective, the POV shot is a restrictive shot that sees things from the eyes of the individual in question. Strongly seen in horror films, it could also be used in a factual programme if the subject was meant to be undercover. A famous fight scene in the film Oldboy sees a Sequence Shot executed that covers a vast amount of time without editing it or switching camera angles.

The final two shot techniques are the Tracking Shot; whereby the camera follows the subject from the side or behind and the Two Shot which is a medium shot of two individual that the director wants to establish a link.

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