Low-angle shot

Filmmaker's Dictionary Jan 22, 2021

What is a low-angle shot?

A low-angle shot is a camera angle where the subject is shown from below their eye level. This requires the camera to be positioned lower than with the standard eye-level shot, pointing upward. A subtle low-angle shot would be one filmed only slightly below the subject’s eye line, and a shot showing a character from the ground level would be considered an extreme low-angle shot.

Effect of low-angle shots

As a filmmaker, while a great screenplay can carry a lot of the plot, your camera angles and movements should always add to the story and get your audience emotionally involved. When is the low-angle shot the best one to use?

Low-angle shots are most often used to signify status, superiority, or dominance. This depicted power can be good or bad, creating vicious, fearful villains and larger-than-life heroes. It’s often used in action movies and dramas. The shot is also frequently paired with a high-angle shot of another character to emphasize power dynamics. This could be utilized in an argument to visually support who’s winning and losing. If a character goes from having low-angle to high-angle shots of them, or vice versa, it also signals the audience that they or their position has changed.

A low-angle shot can also trick the audience into thinking a character or structure is taller than it really is. The lower the angle, the higher the perceived height in the shot. This can help actors look taller to fit their characters or to emphasize the scale of the environment and wow the viewer.

Low-angle shot variations

You certainly don’t have to approach taking a low-angle shot from a generic perspective. Experiment with combining this camera angle with various camera settings, like tilt, rotation, or focal distance! For example, moving your camera with a dolly or gimbal can make your scene dynamic and thrilling, while making your subject appear tall and powerful. Creativity is your only limit.

Want to explore more? Read these great tips on low angle photography!

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