January 13, 2018

Watch: Tips on Shooting in Tight Spaces to Get Creative Shots

Want to capture a unique angle or perspective? Then you'll have to get creative with camera placement.

In filmmaking, coverage is pretty straightforward. You've got your standard shots, like wides, mids, and close-ups, your over-the-shoulders, two-shots, and dollies, but occasionally it necessary to throw in something creative to give your audience something new and interesting to look at. You can do this a number of ways, but one that is definitely worth mentioning is by shooting these kinds of shots from a unique perspective. 

In this video, Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens goes over some tips on how to approach camera placement more creatively, how to set up shots in weird, often small or tight spaces, as well as how to go about lighting these peculiar shots. Check it out below:

Chances are you've seen these kinds of shots before in a number of films—shots captured from inside a refrigerator, car trunk, oven, closet, mailbox, or any other small space. While some filmmakers use cinematic tricks to pull them off (A scene in The Royal Tenenbaums looks like it was shot in a closet, but really Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman used a flag to mimic the look of a closet door closing), you can actually put your camera inside of these places and objects. If you go that route, you'll need to know a few things about filming in areas that are small and awkward to shoot from. 

Stabilization

First of all, you're going to need a stabilizer that not only keeps your camera nice and steady but is also small enough to fit. Morgan suggests using a Platypod, which is a small, flat mini-tripod/mount, but you can also use just about anything from a sandbag, a sweatshirt, a stack of books, whatever as long as it keeps your camera still.

Monitoring

Next, you'll need a monitoring solution. Since looking at the LCD screen on your camera will probably be impossible, you'll need to figure out how you're going to view your scene as it's being recorded. You can mount a small monitor onto your camera's hot-shoe or plop it down near it or tether your camera to an external monitor, just make sure cables aren't visible in the shot.

Lighting

Since most of these areas are probably not going to have ideal lighting for your shot, you're going to have to add or manipulate lighting to get the look you're going for. Obviously, you can't throw a big ol' SkyPanel in a mailbox or closet or wherever you're shooting, but there are lots of lights that are not only small enough but are also flexible and customizable enough to work well in tight spaces. Small pocket-sized LED lights like the $45 Aputure Amaran M9, light wands like the $60 Yongnuo YN360, flexible LED light strips, or even a flashlight or torch.

While the technical applications are important, your creativity is the main ingredient of capturing the best possible shot. So, try out a few new ideas, experiment with placement and lighting to see what kinds of unusual perspectives you can start incorporating into your own projects.      

Your Comment

2 Comments

Or you could stick a 4k Hero in there and skip further hassles of kitting a DSLR/DSLM in those spaces. Also don't have to worry about focal plane.

January 14, 2018 at 8:29PM, Edited January 14, 8:29PM

1
Reply

exactly .... work smart not hard... and for all the technical haters out there...do some research ...you'll be shocked how much video, that you see in features and prime time tv, was shot on GoPros and similar.

January 15, 2018 at 11:21AM, Edited January 15, 11:21AM

7
Reply