Video Jargon for Dummies - Part 2


If you haven’t already, check out part 1 of our 3-part series ‘Video Jargon for Dummies’, where we cover the terminology of framing shots.

Part 2 explains the language of camera angles, another array of words that may have gone over your head in the past when discussing videos with your video agency.

You may have noticed the multitude of angles in videos before but have you ever wondered why your videographer chose each one? Certain angles can engage us in a video and can sometimes give emotional information to the audience.

Eye Level

Eye Level is the most common angle used in corporate videos. It is thought of as ‘safe’. It’s not too dramatic, but it is very effective. A head-on frontal eye-level view makes us engaged with the subject. It makes the viewer feel like they’re looking through the eyes of another character. An eye-level shot is often more flattering than a high or low angle.

High Angle

This simply means shooting down. The camera may be held above the subject on a tripod, a crane or it could be a handheld shot. This can give the subject a weak, powerless or childlike look. The subject may appear smaller than normal. A very slightly high-angled shot can give a rounded face more definition, so, in some cases is more flattering than an eye-level shot.

The high angle in the image below exaggerates the youth of this child and his innocence. The child is looking up at the camera, as a child would to an adult.

Bird’s Eye View

This is an extreme high-angled shot. The camera is directly over the scene looking down, like a bird in the sky. This is an unnatural angle that the human eye does not experience on an average day. It is sometimes used to make people or things look insignificant. A bird’s eye view works well in establishing the scene in the video’s opening.

Low Angle

A low angle simply means that the camera is lower than the subject and pointed up towards the subject. Low-angled shots can increase heights and create an intimidating or foreboding look. It gives the opposite effect to a high-angled shot – it can make the subject seem dominant and aggressive. The viewer can seem powerless and insecure during the action of the scene.

The shot below is a very slight low angle. It is not so extreme that it gives the speaker an intimidating look. Instead, it suggests importance. The camera is at the angle of the audience who are looking up at him, listening to his speech.

Wormeye Angle

This is an extreme low-angled shot. The camera is pointed straight up. This shot works well if you want to capture someone’s face while they are looking down.

Oblique / Canted / Dutch / German Angle

This has various names, but they all simply mean that the camera is tilted. A tilted angle can suggest imbalance, transition and instability. This angle is often combined with point-of-view shots. The camera is often handheld or secured in a Steadicam device for these angled shots.

Head-on Frontal View

This camera is pointed directly at the front of the figure in the shot. This is commonly used as the primary angle for talking head corporate videos. As mentioned above, it engages the viewer with the subject.

Three-Quarter View / Side View

To give variety and flow to a talking head video, there are often cuts from head-on frontal views to three-quarter views. In a three-quarter shot, the viewer is a bit less involved, so they are less commonly used as the primary angle. You would rarely start or end a talking head video with a three-quarter view.

From a side angle, the viewer is less engaged again. The audience is watching the subject as an observer. It gives a less personal feel, so, this angle is not the ideal when the subject is saying important dialogue.

Back View

This is a less commonly used angle in corporate videos but can be very effective when used. Curiosity is created if we never see the front of the subject. This angle is sometimes used when a character is upset, vulnerable and hiding their emotions or if they’re ignoring another character.

The relationship between the camera and the subject being filmed is the angle. An angle can suggest the director’s judgement about a character or object in a shot.

If you would like to learn more of the basics of videography to help create a clearer picture of video styles for your business, watch this space for the third in the series ‘Video Jargon for Dummies’.