There are lots of different angles out there. Acute angles, obtuse angles, right angles, left angles, angles in the outfield, I could go on and on. Today we're going to focus on low angles. A low angle is a camera shot where the camera is positioned anywhere beneath the eyeline, tilted upwards. I'm going to run you through the two most common ways this technique is used. Ready? Ok!
Low angles are used as a more subtle technique to help the subject appear more dominant. In this scenario, the camera is positioned only slightly below the eye line. Your brain does a bunch of scientific things and leads you to believe something is more important.
This is most often used in a dialogue between two people. The more dominant person in the scene will often appear on screen at a lower angle, while the recessive (or "inferior" - but that sounds mean) subject will appear from a higher angle to appear more submissive.
You can see in this example here, Tommy got in trouble for doing something and Derek is reprimanding him. The low angle helps Derek seem more authoritative along with that mean mug of his.
For a more dramatic, disorienting effect, the angle can be shifted multiple feet below eye level - well, below adult human eye level anyway. Let's say for instance you want to film your two adorable pugs running around in the park and you want to follow them a little bit closer to really capture the action, that's where a low angle comes in handy! Oh what's that? There's a video that shows exactly what I described? How convenient!
This technique can be accomplished a few different ways. Two common ways are…
1) Get a monopod and an adapter which can connect the monopod to a hot shoe mount on the top of your camera. This will let you hold the monopod upside down while keeping the camera right side up! Isn't that swell?
2) The other way to do it is to simply attach your camera to a monopod and then hold the monopod and camera upside down while you shoot. With this technique, you're going to have to flip your video in post production or just tell everyone to stand on their heads.
Here's a handy tutorial made by Charlie McCarthy that you might find helpful:
One thing to keep in mind is to only use this technique when it's appropriate. It should be incorporated as a storytelling tool and shouldn't be over-used. Don't just use it because you think it looks cool. People used to collect beanie babies because they thought they were cool. One or two are fine, but nobody likes a person with a basement full of beanie babies. You know what I mean? That's a reasonable analogy, yes? At any rate, try it out, it's a textbook technique that every videomaker should try out.