Supercharge Your Videos: How Camera Moves Show Different Emotions

Cameras tell the audience what emotion you want to convey. Here are some tips to use cameras in Aquifer (even if you have never made a movie before)!

 min. read
February 17, 2022

The language of film is the camera. Whether you’re watching a movie at the theatre, or a video ad on Instagram, you’re seeing a view of the world from the point-of-view that the author intended. It's a window into the story, a glimpse. And the composition of that window and its movement in space, are  powerful ways to evoke different emotions in your audience. Here are some common examples that many of us know:

  • In The Office, the cameras are mostly handheld, and they are hidden behind walls and windows. This makes it feel like a documentary. It makes the action feel very present, and the interactions of the characters feel very spontaneous. The result is that the jokes feel more funny.
  • In a famous scene in The Godfather, Al Pacino's character plots to kill his enemies. A super slow, steady dolly camera pushes in to the character, making us empathize with his inner state of mind. We are getting physically closer in the frame, but also emotionally closer.
Dolly Push in example

That’s why, at Aquifer, we emphasize camera work and its importance to story. If you’re thinking, “but I’ve never made a movie before”, that’s ok!  If you've used a phone camera before, you’ll feel comfortable in Aquifer’s camera system.

What is a Motion Captured Camera?

If you’re into film you’ve heard about virtual camera systems. All of these, at their core, are a camera tracked in space, and the background reacts to the camera moving. So, the background reflects the angle of the camera.

in this production (Disney's The Mandalorian), the virtual camera is tracked, and the background plate adjusts to that angle.

Aquifer is a similar system, but made for anyone to use. We use augmented reality and computer vision to locate your camera in space, and that camera angle is shown in the preview. For example, if you physically hold the camera above your head, and aim down at the characters, the view will show this downward view.

Which Camera Should I Use?

The type of camera to use, on a high level, depends on a few important questions. You don’t need to be a pro to follow these simple guidelines!

What emotion am I trying to convey?

Are you trying to show that the characters are nervous? Agitated? Or content? Are they in control, or are they panicking because of a lack of agency?

What subjects am I trying to show?

Are you showing two people talking?  Or maybe showing off a product?

What type of story am I telling?

A conversation?  An establishing shot?  An action shot?

Set Cameras (Curated)

Set cameras are the basic building blocks of a movie. They are often called coverage in the world of moviemaking. Essentially, they are shots that are standard angles that can be used as-needed to tell your story. Technically, you can make your entire movie with these, if it fits your story. However, I'd recommend setting up the basic framework with set cameras, and then replace some of these shots with some more opinionated camerawork as-needed.

Curated cameras are provided with every Studio Kit in Aquifer. They are set cameras that you can trust to show a basic angle. This is always a good place to start.

These cameras include such trusty shots as a wide establishing shot, a two-shot of your characters talking, and various closeups.

As you can see below, this set camera evokes a straightforward emotion. On the plus side, the viewer will be undistracted when hearing the dialogue.

Handheld Cameras

Handheld cameras typically convey some sort of dynamism:

-Anxiety, due to the shake.

-Presence. By creating the sensation that a human is holding the camera, they make the viewer feel like they’re part of the action! They are often used as a point of view shot (what a character is seeing).

In the following shot, the handheld creates a frenetic feeling.

Dolly Camera

Dolly Cameras are (in real life) cameras that are on tracks.

In this example, a camera is moved along a dolly track.

In Aquifer, we mimic that movement virtually. A dolly is not as dynamic as a handheld, so it feels more stable.

Dolly cameras can achieve a lot of effects, but a straightforward side-to-side dolly gives you a feeling of depth (because of the parallax), and also dynamism, without the frenetic feel of the handheld. Since Aquifer is built in 3d, it’s a powerful effect to emphasize depth to give the viewer a feeling of being present.

Go Tell Your Story!

Now that you have the basics, you can use cameras in the true 3d world of Aquifer to tell your story. Script and pacing are important, but the camera is the window into the story. Depending on how you use it, you can make your story more immersive and cinematic.

Ready to start creating?
Talk with our team.

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