When you listen to people critique a movie director, you often hear them criticize or praise his choice of camera angles.
There’s no doubt that interesting visuals make for an interesting final video. Unique and unusual camera angles are a large part of that.
A reader asked me the other day how one comes up with great angles and here is what I said.
First, unless you are doing something off-the-wall, remember that most of your video will actually be comprised of standard angles. Standard height, normal perspective. The unusual angles should be like spices in a stew, used for a dash of flavor not an overload.
When I shoot video, I concentrate on the standard stuff first. Wide shots, medium shots and close ups from logical and natural looking angles. THEN, I go for some unusual angles. Sit on the floor and shoot from there. Get up on a table and shoot from there. Looking up at somebody makes them look huge and powerful and looking down on someone makes them look small and weak. How extreme of an angle you choose depends on how much you want this affect. Just a touch of a high angle will make someone look thinner, but taping them from twenty feet above their head can make them look utterly powerless.
Some of the most interesting camera angles come when you tuck the camera inside some place a person could never go. Is your character checking the mail? Stick the camera inside the mailbox. A character opening up the fridge? Stick the camera in the middle of a pile of leftovers. Got a kid reaching into his backpack? Put the camera in the backpack.
Look around for cool-looking things to place in the foreground of your shot. Try to find something that adds meaning. Can you put some pretty flowers in the foreground of your wide side shot of the lady gardening? That will help emphasize what she is doing.
Unusual camera angles are a lot of fun. Study award winning still pictures to get a good sense of what makes an interesting shot. Studying great still photography is sometimes the best way to learn this aspect of video production because a still picture is just that…still. That makes it easier to evaluate.
I hope this helps you. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email and I will do my best to answer.