Production: How To Film at a Reverse Angle

In videography, using a reverse angle gives a fresh perspective for the viewers. Sometimes, especially when using a two-shot, this technique is necessary. Both in film and television, the reverse angle is prominent when two people are holding a conversation. Doing a reverse angle shot is ideally done with a two-cam set-up, but this is also possible with a one-cam set-up.

Here are several ways to use a reverse angle shot:

Step 1: Two-Shots

In filmmaking, when the scene calls for two people having a conversation, you will often see several rules and camerawork in motion. You have the two-shot, the reverse angle, and the 180-degree rule being imposed. The two shot is of course, the full shot of both subjects within a single frame. The camera will sometimes take a close up of one speaker. The reverse angle is seen when the camera reverts to a shot of the other speaker. Keep in mind that you must observe the 180-degree rule so as not to cause disorientation. This means that you keep one character on the same side of the frame each time. Imagine a line passing through the two characters; your camera should never cross this line.

The reverse angle also gives viewers a fresh perspective on the subjects. This gives a chance for viewers to see the action and reaction of both characters. Directors also employ the reverse angle to convey emotional reactions of certain characters.

Step 2: Interview Segments

In television production, the reverse angle is best seen at play during live studio interviews or taped sit-down interviews. Often we see the interviewee's close-up as he speaks. The reverse angle shot is usually a shot of the host asking questions or reacting. This is best done with a two-cam set-up for best continuity. But, this is also possible with a single camera. Simply take shots of the subject, then change camera angle to interviewer and have him ask the questions and react. During editing, just piece the scenes together to form a seamless sequence with reverse angle at work.

Step 3: Subjective or Point-of-View Shot

The reverse angle is also used in film language to portray a subjective shot or point-of-view shot. For instance, we can shoot a scene of a man looking at a woman. You can cut to a reverse angle with the woman looking back at a man. This can either be an over-the-shoulder shot of the woman, or a completely subjective shot. The reverse angle gives the viewers a different perspective of the scene.

Step 4: Portraying Action

Reverse angle shots are not only used for people, they are also useful in portraying high intensity action. For instance, if you have a shot of a man running down a street, you can edit in a quick reverse angle not only for showing a different point-of-view, but also to illustrate the fast action in the scene.