Production: How To Film at a Low Angle

One of the most useful techniques at conveying a powerful message is through the use of the low angle. Though this may seem like just another vantage point in videography or photography, the low angle shot actually speaks a thousand words. Depending on what your subject is, shooting it from below will give it the impression of being larger than life. If you have a standing man as your focus, with a low angle shot he can come across as big and powerful. If you're taking a picture or video of an architectural structure, the low angle shot will make it look more colossal. The lower you go, the more foreboding and massive your subject will seem.

Not only does the low angle give you a different perspective on your subject, it's also useful as inserts and cutaways. It also provides a more dynamic viewpoint in the scene. For instance, instead of simply shooting a car revving away, you can shoot the wheel from a low angle as it drives off. This will make your storytelling more robust. Here are some ways you can shoot in order to achieve the low angle shot.

Step 1: Determine the Opportunity

As with any technique, low angle shots are only effective if used sparingly. If you have most of your shots taken from a low angle, they will lose their meaning and power. Pick the instances where you will use a low angle. Maybe it's when you introduce your authoritative character for the first time, or you may revert to this shot during a moment that your character is feeling omnipotent. Choose your moment carefully and plan ahead.

Step 2: Frame Your Shot

This is when you get down and dirty, but it need not happen literally. Find the low angle of your choice and frame your camera accordingly. You may want to combine your low angle with an oblique shot, if you're attempting to portray a hint of unease as well. You may opt only for a hint of low angle, or you may exaggerate your shot and bring the camera to the floor. Whichever you choose, frame your shot wisely and compare each different angle.

Step 3: To Move or Not to Move

In videography, you have the freedom of movement. Find out if it's necessary for your shot to move the camera about. You can opt to pedestal from an eye level down to a low angle, you can slowly pan the camera during the shot or you can start with the camera way below and tilt up to a low angle. These are just some of the possible movements you can try. Overall, the best way to find your perfect shot is to experiment and rehearse. The low angle technique offers a lot of possibilities and when you have discovered one that suits you, then you have a powerful storytelling tool in your hands.