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Turning Home Video into Pro Video > Turning Home Video into Pro Video - Pg. 61

Camera Angle The camera angle--that is, where you place the camcorder relative to your subject--is your greatest compositional tool. What position in the room or setting gives you the best framing, the best lighting, the least background distraction? Which position gives the shot the best composition? You know the old stereotype of the movie director who walks slowly in a circle, squinting, peering through a square he frames with his thumbs and index fngers? It's a cliché, for sure, but old-time directors did it for a good reason: They were trying out different camera angles before committing the shot to flm. If you want to capture the best possible footage, do exactly the same thing (although you can just check the camcorder's LCD screen as you walk around instead of look- ing through your fngers like a weirdo). Before recording any shot, whether it's for a casual home movie or an independent flm you plan to submit to the Sundance Film Festival, spend at least a moment cataloging your camera placement options. Tip: When framing any shot, take a step to the left, then a step to the right, just to check things out. You may discover that even that slight a movement improves the shot substantially. Video Composition: A Crash Course The vertical angle of the camera counts, too. Will you be shooting down on your subject, up at it, or straight on? In commercial movies, camera angle is a big deal. Shooting up at somebody makes him look large, important, or threatening; shooting down from above makes him look less imposing. In home movies, you don't have as much fexibility as you might when shooting a Hollywood flm. About all you can do is hold the camcorder while lying down, squat- ting, sitting up, standing, or standing on a chair. Still, that's a lot more fexibility than most camcorder owners ever exploit. Tip: Choosing the angle is especially important when flming babies, toddlers, or other cuddly animals. Too many people flm them exclusively from a parent's-eye view; you wind up with tapes flled with footage shot from fve feet off the foor. As anyone who has ever watched a diaper commercial can tell you, baby footage is much more compelling when it's shot from baby height. Kneel or squat so that the camera puts the viewer in the baby's world, not the parent's. Capturing Multiple Angles When you make a movie, you're trying to represent a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional screen. To give the audience the best possible feeling for the en- vironment where the flming was done--and to create the most interesting possible videos--consider varying your shots. When you're shooting longer scenes, such as performances, interviews, weddings, and scripted movies, consider changing the camera position during the same shooting session. Doing so gives you two benefts: First, it gives your audience a break; when- ever the camera angle changes, your footage benefts from a small boost of energy and renewed interest. chapter2:turninghomevideointoprovideo 61