Understanding basic camera shot psychology

by birtanpublished on August 30, 2020

Today we're going to be talking about camera psychology. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the realm of film production that couldn’t be more prominent. As the director, when telling your story you need your audience to respond to your characters in a particular way, and to aid this there is a psychology to the shots we select for our scene. Let’s go over some of the basics of film psychology and how you can use them in your next production. Often used at the start or end of most movies. These act as highlights for where we are.

Used to reveal the world in which the movie takes place or perhaps show the new world the character has set out for themselves after their journey. By showing the location, we as an audience are able to define the genre & possible rules of this world that we're in. Are we in a futuristic space, fantasy realm, or in the suburbs? It’s this connectivity & recognition that grounds the audience into the world you’ve now built and ready for the story.

Moving in a touch closer are wide shots, these again can be used for establishing location or position of groups, but primarily they're used for scale. The size of an army, the effect of an explosion, or simply revealing distance between your character & their destination. By providing a scale, you instantly know what your camera is up against and therefore you can sympathize more. However, by pairing a wide without a scale or additional subjects promotes a feeling of disconnect & isolation. Demonstrating how

Alone and isolated that person may be causing us to sympathize with them or perhaps be aware that they are different. On the opposite side of the scale, close-ups provide a level of connection. By moving closer to our subject we can find ourselves forming a stronger connection. Feeling the intensity of how they’re thinking. Using this shot on particular motions or items, however, will highlight this as key information that your audience needs to…focus on. I lost my train

Of thought. For example, highlighting that there is only one round in the chamber of a gun. You can also use close-ups in the horror genre for getting your audience so close that it's uncomfortable, feeling the tension build, getting into a similar mindset as your soon-to-be victim. Need to show the intense direct effects of a character's choice? Use extreme close-ups! Much like establishers, these can act as a starting point of a new scene or act. Though

Represent the characters emotional, psychological and physical situation. You’ll usually see these being used with eyes to demonstrate the determination of a character and the focus on their target. Perhaps they’re about to take the big bad down in the third act, or maybe they're in a stand-off and they know their target. Similar to close-ups we’re providing key information – except instead of a highlight, it's a paintbrush, there is no way that they are able to miss this information, they’re

Extreme for a reason. Though we’re not taking editing at this time, it's best to save extreme close-ups until last in building tension. You want to slowly build that final moment. If you're also in doubt about being able to capture and extreme close-up due to the difficulty it usually is you can always shoot a little bit wider and reframe using HitFilm. That's the basics for now. I really do hope that you can use this information in your next production and just think about the shots

That you're choosing. Leave any questions down below, don't forget to subscribe and ring the bell for notifications on when we next upload.

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