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#1 Josh Bass

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 01:24 PM

So watching various narrative tv shows and movies recently, ive noticed that even in "typical" shots (that is, not a low angle/high angle/sylized shots), and even on closeups, the lens seems to be below eye level, about level with chin/neck. Now that i look for it, i notice it happens a lot. I never think too much about it, and when im shooting usually set lens height to eye level with the subject, but im not seeing this much if ever in high end tv/movie camerawork. Just wondering if theres a reasoning behind it? Insights? Thanks.
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 01:34 PM

It tends to make the subjects look subtly more heroic or stronger than if the camera is set up at the neutral eye line level. You don't want the main protagonist or antagonist (or the star) to look weak in an expensive production.
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#3 Josh Bass

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 02:38 PM

What if its used for everyone all the time? That seems to be the case.
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 04:33 PM

It can often be directly related to the height of the operator. If you're 5' 10", like I am, then a comfortable working height while standing would put the lens at about 5' 4", which is slightly above eye level for the majority of women, and slightly below for men. Even when working on a dolly, operators will often choose a height which approximates how they see the world.
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#5 Josh Bass

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 06:01 PM

That makes sense in a from a technical standpoint (especially if handheld), but seems weird that a director or production would be concerned enough about operator comfort to let it ride, seems like it's more of a directorial decision to have the shot composed that way, no?

I'm thinking specifically at this moment of an episode of 30 Rock I saw the other night, where Salma Hayek (likely not very tall) was talking to Alec Baldwin. Camera was way below baldwin, but even on her, it was either at her eye level or at chin/neck level.

I'm just wondering if most folks agree there's something aesthetically pleasing about people looking slightly over the lens for their eyeline rather than below or at the same level, or if it is usually more flattering for backgrounds (obviously depends on the BG), or what.

Edited by Josh Bass, 31 January 2012 - 06:03 PM.

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#6 Smail Bestybay

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 02:53 AM

Perhaps at the chin height you can catch an eye light from the key?
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#7 Tom Jensen

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:38 PM

I'm 5'6" and I often found myself standing on apple boxes. I didn't let my height dictate the shot. But coincidentally, it's a good height for shooting actors. Don't get so much locked into a camera height. Think about what looks good.
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