Cinematic Camera Angles & Movement

Cinematic Camera Angles & Movement


One of my big goals with our last short film
was to the use the camera movement and the camera placement in a way that supported the
story. So what does that actually mean, how can we
use cinematography in a creative way? For this project I thought it’d be cool
to try and show the relationship between the characters through the camera placement. For
example, in this scene the dealer is kind of looking out for Mark. There isn’t any
conflict between them, so I thought I could show that by having them both stand at an
equal distance from the camera, a two-shot so they are sharing the frame. Whereas in
this scene, it’s a relationship of aggressive confrontation, so I decided to cover the whole
scene in singles – so the characters are separated, opposite each other, rather than equal and
sharing the same frame. When we see two brothers talking, they share the frame, whereas when there’s
conflict between two characters, we cover it with singles so they’re separated. In
theory, the audience might subconsciously recognise this visual pattern, and therefore
have a better understanding of the relationship between the characters. So it’s only natural
that for the beginning of the final scene, we had them in opposition since Mark is going
to take revenge. But when he kills the wrong person, that changes something. By the end
of the scene, Mark and Connor are for the very first time standing on the same plane.
Now both of them have killed, they share the frame – they have something in common. And
for me, that links in with message of the film, about what revenge really achieves.
Now I should say that this idea of using two-shots for equality and singles when there’s conflict
is not really an established rule. It’s not a cinematic convention, it was literally just
an idea that I thought could work well for this particular film. And really, that’s
all you can do, if you feel like the best way to cover your film is with just tons
of extreme close ups, then you absolutely go for that. But what about camera movement?
Some people see it just as a way to add ‘visual interest’ or to help ‘keep the audience’s
attention’. But I personally feel like that’s buying a pair of running shoes and expecting
them to run a marathon for you. If your film is boring, then it’s gonna take more than
just a couple of crane shot to make it interesting for the audience. So for this short, I decided
to only use camera movement when the main character is moving towards his goal. In scene
1 we’re on sticks – because Mark is yet to find his goal. Scene 2 doesn’t have our
main character in it, so it’s still. Plus I felt like at this point Connor has complete
control of the situation, and a rock solid camera helps to show that. In scene 3, the
camera does moves with Mark, but only after he’s heard a vital piece of information that
points him towards his goal of getting revenge. In scene 4, he is confronting Connor directly,
which is moving towards his goal, so the camera moves too, following with him as he pushes
Connor against the wall. But it doesn’t take long for Connor to take control and to
start threatening him, so from that point onwards the camera stays relatively still
– Mark is no longer making progress. Then on set, JP our cinematographer suggested that
we shoot this scene handheld, which I thought was a great idea since this is the one time
that Mark visibly expresses his anger, and we felt like a less stable camera helps show
that wild energy that’s there in the early stages of revenge. For the second last scene,
we go back to a static camera, until we find out that he’s buying a gun, at which point
the camera very slowly starts to dolly in, but it’s basically unnoticeable. But this
time the camera is steady, since Mark appears to have cooled off from the previous scene.
Now following the theme, it makes sense that we start the final scene with a moving camera,
since we’re following Mark as he literally moves towards his revenge goal, and it’s
smooth which reflects how he’s totally focused, numb even. But by the end of the scene we
realise that he’s failed his goal, once again Connor is in control and so the camera
stays completely still. Now this is just one way that you can approach cinematography,
of course there are absolutely no rules. But I guess my main point is that camera movement
can do so much more than just spice up your film with some cool looking shots. So I do
believe that camera angles and movement can help us to communicate ideas and emotions in
our films . But if there’s just one thing I’ve learned from making this short film,
it’s that yes, it’s great to have all of these ideas about storytelling through cinematography,
but that’s just one aspect of storytelling. For my next short film, I want to have a deeper
understanding of the who the characters are, and how they would feel in these different
situations. But most of all how to get the audience to empathise with them. And there’s
no chance that comes from the cinematography alone. My name’s Simon Cade this has been
DSLRguide and i’ll see you next week.

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