The advent of digital cinematography has opened up new creative possibilities for how motion is captured. This article explores the influence of shutter angle along with how it can be used as a creative tool for accomplishing one's artistic goals.
The "shutter angle" is a useful way of describing the shutter speed relative to the frame rate. This term is a conceptual relic of rotary shutters, where a disc with an angled opening would spin and let in light once per revolution to expose each frame. The larger the angle, the slower the shutter speed, all the way up to the limit of 360°, where the shutter speed could become as slow as the frame rate. At the other extreme, the shutter speed can be made arbitrarily fast by decreasing the angle.
By far the most common setting for cinema has been a shutter angle near 180°, which equates to a shutter speed near 1/48 of a second at 24 fps. Any larger, and motion appears more smeared since the end of blur in one frame extends closer to the start of blur in the next frame. Any smaller, and the motion appears more stuttered and disjointed since the blur gap increases, causing frames to become more like discrete images.
Although many film cameras were capable of only certain shutter angle ranges, digital cameras provide many exciting new possibilities. Just as focal length and aperture have been used as creative tools for controlling sense of scale and depth of field, shutter angle has the potential to do the same for motion.
See full details and examples of Shutter Angles in the RED 101 Article: Shutter Angles and Creative Control
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