Lensing Perspective: Crafting Subjectivity with the Camera

A POV primer.
By  · Published on August 4th, 2017

A POV primer.

When it comes to cinematography, there are various ways the camera can reflect a character’s subjective perspective, but most of them are shot-based: POVs, extreme close-ups of eyes, hands, or other body facets, off-center or off-angle framing, et cetera.

But perhaps most powerful of these visual strategies is the strategic employment of various lenses, which don’t just lend themselves to the creation of character perspectives, they also reflect psychological distress or other interpersonal anomalies, and heighten the richness of the visual field.

If there’s a “wheat-from-the-chaff” qualifier in cinematography, it’s lens awareness. Novice filmmakers can find themselves struggling with the technology, but to help with that we have the following video from Travis Lee Ratcliff in which the essayist provides a clear, concise, and fascinating explanation of various lenses and their various uses, selecting as examples scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Big Lebowski, Citizen Kane, Ex Machina, Requiem for a Dream, The Master, and more.

Whether you’re a filmmaker or not, this video provides intriguing insight into the technical tricks that can imbue a story with greater resonance.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist