P.W. Creighton

It's The Unanswered Questions That Haunt Us...

Analyzing the Angle

Composition, Framing, Angles….

In any composition there are a variety of facets that can impact the composition as a whole. Elements such as lighting, perspective and depth of field for the piece can adjust the overall tone, perspective and even objective for the entire composition.

As with any composition in the visual arts, one of the most significant facets of to keep in mind is the angle of the 'shot.'

While there are many conceivable angles to approach a scene from the two most important framing angles are the 'low shot' and the 'top down' shots. The low shot is commonly used in compositions where emotion is the principle objective. Focusing on a subject from a low angle creates a sense of overbearing pressure, authority or menace. The opposite is true for the 'top down' shot. Often used in compositions to show scale and distance the audience from subject matter, it is possible to convey a sense of insignificance.

In any narrative, each scene is perceived from a specific angle and perspective. As with most instances of first-person narratives, the angle of the scene is restricted to the available and logical perceived approaches by the narrator. The narrator is restricted to human perspectives, angles on scenes. This perspective may appear limiting but as the creator of the composition, it is possible to move the scene to accommodate a stronger impact.

Ex. I jogged down the hallway towards the figure looming over the latest victim. I was too late.

In this example the angle of the scene is perceived at distance on the same plane, the same level as the scene. Adjusting the angle and scene to create a better impact…

Ex. I jogged to the stairs and started up until I found the next victim. I knelt on the landing and cursed myself. Too late, again. Lifting my gaze, I saw the figure looming at the top of the stairs watching me.

As the angle on the scene changes so does the emotional impact and tone of the scene. If the scene is reversed and the angles change again so that it is a 'top down' angle then the perceptions change with it.

Ex. I jogged to the top of the stairs. He was standing over his next victim on the landing below. I was too late again.

In these examples the tone and perceptions of the scenes change giving a completely different tone to the composition each time. In the first example, the perceptions range from the antagonist may be caught, fight or flee. The second example, the perceptions range from sadness to fear that the character may be the next victim and in the final example the perceptions are that the antagonist may flee or be caught.

While the composition may have many facets that impact the overall tone, the angle of the 'shot' is one of the strongest elements for controlling the narrative perceptions. In a third person perspective, it is far easier to control the angle of the shot but it is also more difficult to convey the same level of emotion as the 1:1 ratio of the first person perspective. Every detail, perspective and angle has attributes that lend itself the certain compositions. It's the director, the creator's challenge to understand these and create the ideal composition.

How do you perceive the angles?

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