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7 Tips for Shooting Low Camera Angles

 

Getting low camera angles is one sure way to engage your viewers. Using those low angles in an effective story can be a challenge, so we're bringing you 7 tips for shooting low camera angles, hopefully they'll get your brain working toward even more creative uses. In no particular order here are some ways to use your camera with very little clearance above a solid surface.

1. Emotional composition - Keep the camera low, but point it upwards and you'll create the feeling that the audience is small and the subject is gigantic. This will be emphasized when the subject takes up the majority of the frame, so the distance between camera and subject will play a big role in this shot. Basketball players, skyscrapers, mountains and stacked items are all easy subjects here.

2. Stability - Your camera's center of gravity is the focus of camera stabilizers across the board. It may take a physicist to explain, but it should be pretty clear that anything having a low center of gravity is going to be much harder to move. Like a well-engineered structure, give your camera a good foundation and get your camera low. Many cameras have a handle on top and will help make this happen. Low and steady wins many a race.

3. Animal/object perspective - If you're like me one of my early videos included a talking hat in an otherwise real world ... OK, so that's probably not many of you, but if you want inanimate objects like LEGOs, dolls, MY LITTLE PONY, Hot Wheels, and other toys to have a perspective in your video, go with low angles because I know that in my experience, I never got a life-size toy.

4. No more eyes in the skies - There are plenty of reasons to see what's underneath obstacles. If you've got doors that are warped, pesky coffee tables that do nothing but stub, then you might have very good framing for low shots. Consider a dropped fork (isn't that how carefully planned escapes always start?) Letting your audience see a parent's shoes from beneath the passenger side door can put a thrill on a delinquent's situation.

5. Objects in frame will be closer than they can be focused on - A sure way to show depth of field is to have objects in the foreground or closer to the camera than the focal point. Getting low to a surface such as a counter or road can pretty well guarantee that you have a good reference for you viewers that what's in focus is exactly important, and the rest can be one big bokeh.

6. Impact - Ever tripped? The act of falling doesn't hurt much, it's the ground stopping you on the way down that hurts. The stairs and sidewalks feel great impacts every day, it is your job to capture such impacts and make them meaningful to your story. Maybe the sound of someone's footsteps is terrifying to other characters, you'll want a low shot capturing footsteps, and maybe putting it in slow-motion will help even more. Glass, now that's a nice subject, or anything that shatters on impact can be a great subject for impacting, and a shot that is even with the impact surface is likely to be a strong visual.

7. Like gum under the table - If you want to show something unattractive, take the camera low, and even shoot undersides of things, chances are, you didn't clean the bottom of your shoes today and you probably didn't scrape the gum off of the underside of the school desk. Let's just say there are some nasty things on the ground and in low places.

Going into post-production with good camera angles will really make editing easier since there will be more variety. So enjoy getting low camera angles because they can look very professional and don't require a lot of expensive equipment. Even if gear like the Induro Dual Range Hi-Hat Tripod will give you near complete control and gives you options with a new set of legs supporting 75mm tripod heads comes out this December. So go shoot some low shots and enjoy the power that comes from being low.

Image courtesy of Bigstock.com

Jackson Wong is an associate editor for Videomaker

November 20th, 2012