My previous camera angle was chosen for balance, but it was a messy composition and the balance didn’t add to the idea of the shot.
I went through several potential new camera angles before settling for a frontal shot. It’s slightly risky as things tend to look flat, but since most people advice to avoid this angle it might be a good way to make a shot that stands out, assuming I can pull it off well enough.
The front on angle, with the tiger walking once close to the glass and once close to the camera, poses some difficulties in framing all of the action without cutting.
First of all I like the composition of the girl dead centre with the tiger moving from left to right. However I really want to keep the turns as visible as possible since they add dynamic, character, and are good moments to show some creature animation and weight. I will have to add a slight camera pan to keep everything in shot.
Secondly I need to make sure the tiger frames the shot nicely when closer to the camera, while still being fully in shot when closer to the glass. To have a nice framing effect I need to put him on higher ground as he passes the camera, so while the camera is eye level to her it needs to be at foot level for the tiger. The problem here is that the higher ground blocks out the view of the tiger when closer to the glass.
Since the camera is already in motion, however, I can shift the angle slightly to go from a more frontal view to a slightly tilted point, blocking out the floor while keeping everything else in frame.
The remaining problem with all of these shots was that they were distancing the girl character by not only having her furthest away from the camera, but also clearly focussing on the tiger movement wise. (I seem to unconsciously manipulate my audience away from the characters, whether it’s lack of speech or through visual language..). I found that there were two ways of solving this problem and making her more approachable to the audience:
A longer focal length gives a narrower field of view, but a greater magnifying effect. There was a good balance between making sure everything is in shot, while at the same time avoiding the girl becoming too small and distant.
More importantly though, I also opened the scene with a close up of the girl character, to ensure that the attention and empathy is on her, before the camera shifts focus to follow her gaze and give way to what she is focussing on. The audience now shares her experience and has more context to the scene.
Here’s a quick version of what this camera move will look like in the final: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ovwwzrgnrp6vkj3/camera_front_tiger_up_04.avi