In the film medium a whole of space and time is formed by a sequence of shots. Film craft demands knowledge of principals of different filming angles because each following shot must be a logical and natural continuation of the preceding shot.
The camera axis is a fictional line, perpendicular to the lens optical axis. For example, let’s take a man, tied up to the tree and crying. It’s very difficult to film such a scene in one shot (except with a moving camera) and at the same time give all the necessary information to the viewer. We have two options: we begin with the medium shot of the person, in which it’s clear that he is tied to the tree but the tears on his face are not clearly visible. Then we can jump down the optical axis of the lens to the close-up of his face and emphasise the tears. This way, we move closer down the camera axis. The reverse editing process is also possible. The first shot could be the close-up of the face and the second the medium shot of the man. In this case, we talk about moving away on the camera axis.
Axis of action
The axis of action is one of the basic elements of creating a unique scene space in film. It mainly enables orientation in the space and uninterrupted following of the action. The axis of action is a fictional line between two characters, mostly between their heads. It is also the extension of a look or movement.
If we put the camera on one side of the axis of action in the process of framing, our characters and objects will keep the same position in the space as well as the same direction of the look or movement.
If we break the rule of the axis of action, we refer to the so-called jump over the axis, in which we ruin the “unity” of the space and the orientation in the space.
Objective and subjective filming angles
In the process of framing, the objective angle or point of view is the position of the camera in which the shot looks like it’s seen through the eyes of the viewer, i.e. objectively. While framing two or more characters, all camera angles, distanced from the axis of action, are objective camera angles. Subjective angles as camera positions are set exactly on the axis of action. The viewer gets the feeling as if the content of the shot is seen through the eyes of the character from the previous or next shot.
In a situation with a larger number of actors, we can set the axis of action more than once based on the look, movement, dialogue…
Legend – objective and subjective filming angles