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Chapter 8. Advanced Video Techniques and... > A Matter of Perspective: Working wit...

A Matter of Perspective: Working with Camera Angles

Setting up different camera angles is good because you can get two perspectives on a scene. For actors, it’s another chance to get the “perfect motivation” for a scene. For audiences, it breaks up the monotony of a long scene shot continuously.



Science-fiction and fantasy movies are a playground for filmmakers to redefine the art of making movies. In 1999, the movie that changed the way we look at different camera angles was the cyber-thriller The Matrix.

The opening of the movie provided a surreal special effect in which Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) jumps in the air and kicks a cop square in the chest. What made this look so interesting is that as soon as she jumps, the action stops. She remains suspended in midair as the camera pans in real-time to another perspective.

This real-time perspective change in a still moment of time was given the phrase “Bullet Time Effect,” named for the climactic scene with Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he dodges bullets being shot at him. The perspectives were caught by a sequenced series of still cameras positioned at various angles and sequentially timed to take a picture at a specific moment. The pictures were then digitized and cleaned up in a computer. The pictures, once put in the sequence they were shot, then created an “impossible” perspective change. This effect is now widely practiced in different films, television shows, and even television commercials!

You can see this effect in detail on the Web at http://whatisthematrix.com under the VFX section of the Web site, or see the actors, directors, and special effects artists create this effect in the behind-the-scenes documentary The Matrix Revisited.



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