The Overhead Shot
Camera Angle:

Give Your Audience the "Bird's-Eye View"!

Camera Angles Overhead ShotThe Overhead Camera Angle!

The overhead shot camera angle is one of the most interesting and specialized of all the camera angles...!

Here is how it is used…!


It is also called the "Bird's-Eye" view, "Raised" or "Elevated" shot or the "God shot". It's not just a high angle shot… In this angle the scene is shown from almost directly (or directly) above the subject.

The Overhead Shot Camera Angle Is a Very Different Point of View for Your Audience…

Overhead Camera Angle – Visual PerspectiveA Unique Camera Perspective and Audience Point of View

The overhead shot camera angle view is a different and somewhat "unnatural" point of view for the audience.

It puts the viewer in a position where he's looking down on the action and things as if he were a bird, in a plane or just somewhere in the sky. It's obviously not where they would be normally  if looking at a scene!

This angle can be used for dramatic effect or for showing a different spatial perspective, especially if it is masterfully intercut with other types of angles.

Overhead Camera Angle – Actor Positions and MovementsThe Overhead Shot Is an excellent choice for showing the Actors Positions and Movements in a scene!

It can be used to show the broad positions and motions of several different characters and objects at once, enabling the viewer to see things and situations the characters themselves can't see.

The bird's-eye view is also very useful in shooting sports or documentaries etc., as you can show an entire scope of action or landscape in a single view.

For shooting anything else however, it is a kind of "strange" angle as of course... It's not the natural viewing position that you view from such as eye-level or a slightly low-angleHowever, the overhead shot camera angle has been put to very great effect by film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock who have used this shot expertly for its impact and shock value in scenes.

Also... A little side tip for you foodies out there! The overhead angle is very popular in photographing and videoing food dishes, and you can get a very good look at them and they can be laid out aesthetically!

Overhead Camera Angle – Food DishesThe Overhead Shot Is Popular for Showing Food Dishes to Best Advantage!

Some Examples of the Overhead Shot...

Video Editing – example of overhead shots #1

Here is a short video of examples of the Overhead or God shot! (From Brian Carroll YouTube)

Video Editing – example of overhead shot #2

In this video (Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets) watch the interplay between the overhead shots and other camera angles to develop the tension in the scene! (MovieClips Fandango)

The Aerial View… A Different Type of Overhead Shot…

Overhead shot – aerial viewA "Birds-Eye" View of the Scene!

The overhead shot camera angle  is sometimes also called an Aerial View but…there is a bit of a difference between the two.

When you see an aerial view you definitely know that it's an "Aerial View " … way up there… and that you're not just looking from a high angle… you're looking down from a great altitude and from a particular and very high location onto the scene.

Overhead shot – landscape aerial viewThe Aerial View Gives You a Broad Look!

The aerial view tends to give you the definite impression that the view is from a plane, mountaintop, space or other extremely high vantage point.


The overhead shot is a little different in that it can be just a few feet off the ground – it's just that the angle is nearly directly overhead. But…in the aerial shot you know  that there's a great altitude from which you are looking at the scene.

Aerial view – crowdsCrowds Are Often Filmed from the Aerial View!

This type of shot is of course, used when you want to give the audience a super panoramic view and/or the perception of vast distance.

Tips on Using the Overhead Shot…

Overhead shot Tip # 1
  • When you shoot your scenes using this angle you should always very carefully consider this view and how it will impact your viewer. In other words, what does it add to the scene?

Overhead shot Tip # 2
  • Unless you have a really good reason for using the overhead shot camera angle, using it in your video can confuse your audience and you'll lose their attention. So just make sure that you do have a particular effect in mind when using it.

Overhead shot Tip # 3
  • Objects and people being viewed from this angle can tend to look small and unrecognizable. It's not the shot you want to use if you want to show detail.

Overhead shot Tip # 4
  • The overhead shot can also make the subjects in the scene appear to be short and squat. So make sure they don't look like Smurfs (smile) unless you want them to!

Using different camera angles expertly can help you create the exact emotional response you want from the audience to your video...!

Learn them and use them well!

Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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