Quick Guide: Dutch Angle Tools

Jaws (1975), dir. Steven Spielberg

Dutch Angle 101

The Dutch angle (aka: Dutch tilt, canted angle, oblique angle) is a classic cinematic technique that involves tilting the camera so that the horizon line is not parallel with the bottom of frame, resulting in an unsettling and off-kilter look that tells the viewer: “something’s not right.” But how does a DP go about creating these shots?

Cartoni C20S Dutch Head

One very straightforward option is the Cartoni C20S Dutch Head, which mounts directly to any tripod head with a Euro Quick Release plate. As the name implies, this is a tool specifically designed for “Dutch angle” compositions, which features a pan handle for easy camera operation, fluid controls to add or remove drag, and roughly 65° of dutch angle in either direction. The Cartoni Dutch Head is a head that allows you to operate, adjusting your camera angles as part of your shot, allowing you to see the angle change for effect. 

Tango II Swinghead

The Tango II is a bit different from the Dutch Head, designed to rotate on the optical axis (nodal point) rather than just rotating on the hinge of the tripod head. This means that as you rotate the angle of the camera on the Tango head, the position of your subject in frame will remain center (or nodal), and that no matter what angle the Tango II is set to, your panning moves will remain horizontal and your tilt vertical. The Tango II is primarily used for framing and composition and not necessarily for live camera operation. The Tango II’s rotation is controlled by hand rotation or with any Arri-compatible flexible shaft (better known as a “whip”). The Tango II lays flatter and holds more weight than the Dutch Head at only 2” tall and with a maximum payload of 110lbs versus the Cartoni’s 55lbs. Even when there are no Dutch angle shots planned, the Tango Head’s low-profile form factor makes it a great tool to have on your camera support rig as a quick way to simply correct the horizon line. 

Cartoni Lambda 25

The Cartoni Lambda 25 is a nodal head - the camera moves on the camera’s optical axis rather than on the tilt hinge of the traditional fluid head. In the Lambdas default two-axis configuration, only pan and tilt functionality is possible, but there are a couple of ways this head can be used to create Dutch angles. The most direct way is using the Lambda 25 with the additional 3rd Axis bracket, which gives operators a full 360° control over pan and tilt, plus the addition of a ROLL axis. This addition of the roll axis allows for 360° rotation of the camera for dutch angles and full 360° barrel rolls. Another is a configuration called Total Dutch. In this mode, the Lambda head uses the roll axis bracket only, which is attached to a traditional fluid head for pan and tilt control. This gives you pan and tilt and separately roll for your camera moves.

More Dutch Angle Examples:

The Third Man (1949), dir. Carol Reed

Do The Right Thing (1989), dir. Spike Lee

Dutch angle shots are only one potential use of these incredibly versatile heads, though, and there is a ton of mileage a DP or operator could get out of their range of motion– give us a call to schedule a time to stop by and try these out for yourself, and see where your creativity takes you! And of course, be sure to check back in on CineMechanics’ Next Level Resource blog, where we’ll have more articles coming soon.