If you’re looking to work in film and television, it’s no secret you’ll have to get familiar with the camera and knowing the basic shots and angles can be hugely propitious for your skills to shine. So here are 12 of the most popular camera shots all video makers and directors should know:
- AERIAL SHOT: It’s all in the name – this shot is filmed from the air and is often used to establish a location (usually exotic and/or picturesque).
- ESTABLISHING SHOT: Again, it’s in the name – this shot is at the head of the scene and establishes the location the action is set on, whilst also setting the tone of the scene(s) to come. It usually follows directly after an aerial shot in the opening of films and is beloved by TV directors.
- CLOSE-UP: This is perhaps the most crucial component in cinematic storytelling and is arguably an actor’s most important moment on camera. This shot is usually framed from above the shoulders and keeps only the actor’s face in full frame, capturing even the smallest facial variations
- EXTREME CLOSE-UP: These shots are traditionally used in films and focus on a small part of the actor’s face or body, like a twitching eye or the licking of lips in order to convey intense and intimate emotions.
- MEDIUM SHOT: Also referred to as a ‘semi-close shot’ or ‘mid-shot’, this generally shoots the actor(s) from the waist up and is typically used in dialogue scenes. It aims to capture subtle facial expressions combined with their body language or surrounding environment
- DOLLY ZOOM: This shot sees the camera track forward from the actor whilst simultaneously zooming out, or vice-versa. So the foreground generally stays the same while the background increases or decreases across the frame. First invented by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo to create a dizzying, vertiginous effect.
- OVER-THE-SHULDER-SHOT: This is where the camera is positioned behind a subject’s shoulder and is usually used for filming conversations between two actors. This popular method helps the audience to really be drawn into the conversation
- LOW ANGLE SHOT: These shots film from a lower point and shoots up at a character or subject, making them appear larger so as to convey them as heroic, dominant or intimidating. It’s also another way of making cities look empty.
- HIGH ANGLE SHOT: In contrast with the low angle shot, this one films from a higher point and looks down on the character or subject, often isolating them in the frame.
- TWO-SHOT: This is a medium shot that shows two characters within the frame. Pretty straight-forward but can be pivotal in establishing relationships between the characters.
- WIDE SHOT: This shot normally frames the subject from the top of their head to their feet whilst capturing their environment. It’s typically used to establish the setting of the particular scene.
- MASTER SHOT: these shots capture all actors in the scene and run the entire length of the action taking place. This allows for other smaller shots like close-ups or mid-shots to then be interwoven into the master, showcasing different angles of the same scene.