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Extreme shots

Extreme wide shots create scale, while extreme close-ups evoke emotion. Up shots show power, down shots convey inferiority, and Dutch angles create disorientation. Camera placement should support the story's emotion. Use extreme angles sparingly and understand film grammar before breaking the rules.

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Video transcript

- In the last video, we covered the basics of framing and staging. For added emphasis and impact, it's sometimes helpful to make more dramatic use of your camera, for instance, with an extreme wide shot. These can be used to show how big a world is, create a sense of scale, or to make details difficult to see. On the other hand, extreme close up shots are framed very tightly around the subject and can feel intensely emotional or uncomfortable. You can also play with shooting your action from various angles. For example, placing your camera down low and pointing it upward results in what's called an up shot. Using an up shot can give a character a feeling of power or dominance. The opposite of an up shot is a down shot where the camera is placed above the subject and pointed downward like this. Notice how a down shot can make a character feel inferior, helpless or trapped. Another type of shot is called a Dutch angle. This is where you tilt the camera to get a diagonal view of the scene. Shots like this can be used to create a disorienting, unnatural, or off balance feeling. Let's ask our artists how they use these types of shots. - Whether to use a low angle looking up or have the camera high looking down, I think a lot of that sort of depends on what are your characters doing. What's your character's point of view? In One Man Band, there's a high angle shot. It's the only one in the entire film. The reason is this little girl is looking down into a grate where a coin has fallen. We would never use that camera angle for any other part of the movie except that because she's looking down, so we kinda want to be over her shoulder looking down. And so it was a story point that made us use the camera in that way. In the beginning of the Incredibles, Bob is in the Incredobile and he's hitting the buttons to transform the vehicle and do certain things and the map system is right there. So he's poking buttons. So there's a camera kind of low, looking up at him. The camera's kind of where all that equipment that he's touching is. So plant your camera where it needs to be to sell that story beat of what your character is looking at. - There are also times where you might want to go to an extreme close up of somebody or an extreme wide shot. There's a shot in Toy Story Two where the toys are going into Al's Toy Barn. And we went out to a really wide shot of them entering the store for the first time, just to remind the audience that this is a human scale store with tiny toys in it, making their way through the store. We had to remind ourselves to show the audience that occasionally so they could feel the delight of seeing that these are toys in a human world come to life. Conversely, there are times you want to go for extreme close ups. And that just means going in for an extreme detail. It might be a close up of an eyeball. In Toy Story Two, we had a whole sequence where Woody is being cleaned up, including a close up of Woody's eyeball getting wiped with a Q-tip. An extreme close up of his foot with the word Andy being kind of painted away. Those are just times where you want to go into a tiny little detail 'cause you're trying to communicate a very specific thing and you don't want the clutter of other information in the frame. - I love getting lost in movies. When I see a movie for the first time, I am there for the ride. I'm completely immersed in the movie. And if there are extreme angles that don't mean anything, I am often yanked out of the picture and I'm aware I'm watching the movie and I'm questioning why I just saw that weird shot. - Typically, you want to use them for emphasis. And if you're using too much of them, then it's difficult for you to give emphasis to any specific thing. - I feel like those things need to be used very, very sparingly. In the beginning, I used to like those because those are the extreme shots. They're the exciting shots. But what I didn't realize, I loved drawing them and I loved breaking them down compositionally for myself, but what I didn't realize is that on the other end when I was watching them in other movies, those extreme angles, if they're overused really pull me out. - But there might be times that you do want to shoot everything in an extreme close up. There are rules of film making. There are rules of film grammar. But those rules can be broken. They're not something to stick to slavishly. But it is good to have a good understanding of that film grammar before you make conscious decisions about how you want to bend those rules. - You have a lot of freedom in how you use framing and staging. But remember, the most important thing to do is to make choices that best support the emotion of your story. Use the next exercise to get some practice.