Emotion In Camera Movement

Moving a camera with purpose is a challenging aspect of film. These days you see so many short films and videos moving the camera at random where the story portrays one thing and the camera movement, another. The camera man should know how to convey the message in order to get the desired emotional effect.

Showing sadness in a camera move, the camera operator would first need to understand what this emotion feels like. Obviously, it’s slow, maybe sluggish, and with no energy. Well, let’s put these same feelings into the camera. The movement needs to be slow and without bumps. The camera should basically be floating in air and have absolute precision. Ways to emphasize these movements include follow shots, slowly pushing in or out from the subject, or slow pans and tilts. Another very useful effect would be slow motion. If you have slight bumps in the shot, don’t stress. You can slow the footage down which will stretch out the frames and make the bumps or jolts less detectable. Slow motion brings the viewers closer to the subject, causing a more intimate understanding as the rest of the world becomes blocked out; therefore placing attention on the intended target in the film.

If the actor's mood appears angry and dominating the scene, generally you would have a shot from low to high, letting the actor tower over the camera, but there’s a healthy balance to this effect that needs to be considered. Too high over the camera, and the actor will look like a giant, and maybe you want that effect, but often, this will be too dramatic. Another way to convey anger would be through Slow motion which can convey many moods. However, many people over-use it; so be aware of that. Slow motion may be cool, but it also allows the viewers to see the rage of the actor and really understand the fury going on in the scene. Slow motion allows the attention to detail that otherwise were not seen. Another way to show anger could be with shaky footage but note that moving all over the place to the point where nothing can be seen will create a problem. Occasionally, this rule can be broken, but people with more experience have a better sense of when to go off track.

Many people are fans of horror. Often, the audience will not anticipate the “jump scene” coming and will scream. A sense of helplessness for the character makes a good horror scene or film filled with suspense. Knowing the camera moves and angles proves useful to the filmmaker. Normally following the actor with a slightly shaky camera would be ideal. It’s a good all-round technique and can be used in pretty much all horror scenes. Another effective way to show horror would be having the camera slightly on its side. Tilting the camera on its roll axis gives an angled look that seems off and out of place. Many of these out of place shots are useful in horror films. Using a POV (point of view) proves an efficient way of scaring the audience. It pulls the audience into the scene as one of the characters, feeling their same helplessness and despair. During movement and action, the camera, Securely strapped to an actor’s chest or helmet, acts as their eyes.

So, whether trying to make the audience empathize with the character by slowly pushing out with the camera, or trying to cause the viewers to feel anger through shaky camera footage, a filmmaker expresses powerful things with the language of camera. Knowing the story is one thing; telling it correctly is entirely different. Every shot should tell a story. Be sure to convey the right message with your camera.

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