What’s an eye-level shot?
An eye-level shot is a camera angle very commonly used to convey a neutral view. The camera is positioned so the subject can look directly into the lens without moving their eyes up or down. Eye-level shots simulate standard human vision and present visual information through a familiar viewpoint.
Effect of the shot
The eye-level shot is said to be the most impartial angle, unlike the high-angle and low-angle shots which convey a power difference: dominance and powerlessness respectively. In this sense, this shot doesn’t provide a new perspective. It’s the most common shot for a straight, factual presentation.
On the other hand, this shot is also used to help the viewer emphasize with the subject, making them appear more “human”. The viewer gets emotionally involved in the story since they feel like they’re right there in the moment, facing the actor. It captures facial expressions and emotions well. In photography, it’s frequently used for fashion, commercials, or artistic portraits. They can be great for family or children’s photos as well.
When to use the eye-level shot
If your goal for a sequence is to draw the audience in and make them connect with the subject, an eye-level POV or close-up can be a perfect choice. Emotions convey best when we relate to the subject. Especially during uncomfortable or nuanced moments, a neutral shot might help the viewers not judge but contemplate the characters and action in the scene.
This neutral storytelling allows for more independent processing of the story. If you want your viewers to form their own assumptions and opinion on a scene, an eye-level shot can be a way to not imply status or tell the audience how they should feel.
Generally speaking, your creative vision will probably be the most captivating if you use a variety of shots, each meant to add to your storyline intentionally. An eye-level shot can be used to “play things safe”, but if you use it in abundance or randomly, it might make your storytelling banal. However, with a thoughtful application, this shot can be a perfect choice to create a connection and make your viewers relate to your story, or to convey it neutrally.
Want to experiment with the eye-level shot? Use this guide on how to film at eye-level.