Camera Shots & Tricks: Deceptive Angles and Zolly Shooting

How to shoot deceptive angles, including the zolly shooting technique and why you should include multiple different angles.

Video Transcript

Camera tricks and shooting techniques can add to the magic of your videos along with some simple special effects. When combined these two forces become unmistakedly powerful. A very creative way to shoot an action sequence or lead up and build to an action sequence is by taking advantage of some of the more interesting camera angles and special effects that shake up the viewing experience for the audience.

One of these techniques is known as the Zolley. The Zolley adds a bit of drama by creating a disorienting visual experience for the viewer. By zooming out with the camera while using a dolly to move in the subject stands out as separated from the background and looks as if they are floating toward the camera.

This helped create many memorable scenes in such major motion pictures as Vertigo when Jimmy Stewart looks down the staircase and Goodfellas in the scene outside the café.

[Dialogue from Goodfellas, Male voice: “The booth near the window, so we could see everyone who drove up to the restaurant. We wanted to make sure I wasn’t tailed. He was jumpy. He hadn’t touched a thing. On the surface, of course, everything was supposed to be fine. We were supposed to be discussing my case but I had the feeling Jimmy was trying to sense whether I was gonna rat him out to save my neck.”]

The key here is that the dolly speed should be the same as the zoom speed. Otherwise, the effect doesn’t work.

Another important piece of the puzzle when shooting action is to be creative when capturing your scenes. Camera placement is only limited to your creativity. Using different angles will make your video more dynamic and dramatic. The more you deviate from the norm the more energetic the visual effect will become. Shooting from varying angles also enhances the illusion of depth in your videos. Remember a video is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world.

By placing your camcorder at different vantage points in three-dimensional space you help convince the viewer that a third dimension still exists in the flat pictures they’re watching. High angles offer useful perspectives over the heads of crowds but from a composition standpoint they’re great for making patterns within the image.

Low angles are, of course, the opposite, imparting feelings of dynamic engagement with the action. A nice camera trick using some of these elements would be the illusion of climbing a hill or mountain side. By using some deceptive shooting we can pull off this illusion. Sure, we can shoot someone actually doing it but we’re a tad bit lazy and we’d rather fake it.

The first step is going to be to set the stage for the audience and grab a few establishing shots so that they get lost within the setting. Utilize cutaways to help put a stamp on things and make sure to sell the illusion.

When shooting the climb cut to a different angle to show the resistance of the rope and be sure to have a grip pull anything hanging to add to the effect of gravity. A few key pointers are to wear tight clothes and to have someone pull on anything that can help solve the action. For instance, pull on the rope.

Camera angles can change the messages, ideas, and emotions behind your projects. Be creative and always give yourself plenty of options.

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I agree with trema_inc's c

Terry White's picture
I agree with trema_inc's comment about the ads. Please keep them to a minimum, ok? A 0:15 at the beginning and end is OK I guess. I did like the Zolly idea. I've used it a few times, but I need allot more practice. If you search YouTube for "gtwhite707" and see my BWI train video, I used it when the train was entering the station. Cool effect. I hope this summer to use allot of the new techniques in videos.