Low angle shot

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A low angle shot, simply put, is when the camera is positioned below the subject’s eye line. The camera points upwards towards the subject. 

Why use a low angle shot?

A low angle shot can convey a wide range of mood and emotion. It can be used to express vulnerability, a sense of power, height, or a mix of the three. It can be used as a POV shot to indicate that the character is feeling vulnerable to attack, or it can be used to indicate that the focus of the shot is powerful or somehow elevated above other things. 

Types of low angle shots

There are several types of low angle shots. A subtle low angle is positioned just slightly under the eyeline. It makes the audience feel as though they are looking up, although it can be so subtle that the audience may not consciously realize what is happening. It can be used for a variety of reasons. Picture a princess on a tall tower, shot with a subtle low angle. The viewer understands that she’s up high, surveying her kingdom.

An extreme low angle is much lower, sometimes going so far as to be below the feet of the character in the shot. It is often used to make someone look larger than life, or to express extreme fear and vulnerability in the POV character. It makes the viewer feel like a child, looking anxiously up into a big, scary world. Picture an extreme low angle, looking up at a character who appears to be towering over you. Instantly, the viewer may feel that they’re in danger, and this person is intimidating, powerful, or just plain bad news.

A low angle establishing shot is, as it sounds, an establishing shot that utilizes a low angle. Establishing shots are used in film to introduce viewers to a new location, character, or other aspect of the story. When paired with a low angle, it suggests that the thing we are being introduced to is somehow grandiose, intimidating, or otherwise important. Imagine a shot of a crumbling, haunted house from the outside. Utilizing a low angle would suggest that this house is frightening in some way and the viewer is vulnerable.

How to use a low angle shot

As with any shot or technique, you should be thinking carefully about how this shot will make the viewer feel, and what information you are conveying to your audience. Don’t just throw it in because it looks cool. This technique can be paired with movement, which increases a sense of wonder, or you can even pair it with a dutch angle, which creates a sense of unreality or destabilization. 

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Author

Molly is an author, screenwriter, blogger, and brand manager for New 32 Productions. They are passionate about sharing content that helps filmmakers live a more productive, informed, and well-balanced life. They live in North Carolina with their spouse and way too many dogs.

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