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When you are shooting video, the placement of the camera plays a large role in the emotional impact of your shots. So, I want to give you a few examples from some old public domain movies of interesting camera placement. This first one comes from "Night of the Living Dead" and here this dude just kind of walking along minding his own business and some zombies happened to break through the window. (Video Playing) And it's really off-putting, because you are not really expecting zombies to be breaking through, so you're kind of thrown off your game. Now, what the director did is tilted the camera a little bit to kind of reinforce that feeling of being thrown off your game.
If I back up the footage here a little bit, you could see that these camera angles are not quite right. Something is just a little off edge, and so the camera placement is supposed to kind of mirror the way you are supposed to feel. And the next shot, (Video Playing) this guy runs and goes to get something to board up the window, and it's on top of this refrigerator, which would, obviously, be completely straight and yet we have these diagonal lines. Everything is kind of thrown off and not really balanced well.
And, again, this is supposed to kind of make you feel uneasy and unsettled because things are kind of tilted and screwy. Likewise, if you point a camera down on top of a subject, it tends to make them look inferior or weak, or if you put a camera down at the bottom of the subject, looking up at them, it tends to make them look grand, big, and powerful. The placement of the camera can also make an emotional impact by what is closest to the camera. Here is another clip from Night of the Living Dead. (Video Playing) So this girl, the hero, who was supposed to feel sorry for, she trips and falls, and so then in the reverse shot, what do we see? We see the shoe, the shoe that made her trip and fall right in front of the camera.
The shoe really isn't that important, it's the girl that fell, but by having that shoe right in our face, we understand her dilemma. She was wearing heels, she tripped and fell, and, right in our face, we see her problems. So her problem becomes our problem because of the placement of the camera. Here is another example from one of my favorite movies, Carnival of Souls. This is a part where our hero, here, is drawn to this creepy carnival, that's no longer here. It's all gone away and shut down, and the camera angle is from behind this fence and it's almost suggesting that she just doesn't belong here.
We have the fence right in front of the camera. We are not seeing from behind her shoulder, we are seeing the fence. It also might suggest that there is something here, something behind the fence that we are getting a point of view shot from, some kind of monsters, or something that is kind of lurking behind this fence. Now, if you are making something like a documentary, like a work of non-fiction and newscast or something like that, you might not want to fiddle with the camera. But if you are telling a fictional story, you might want to re-evaluate your shots and ask yourself "Is there some way that we can place the camera that would "be reinforcing what we are trying to show in the scene?"
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