Jun 5, The Basic Camera Shots: A Quick Overview!

The Basic Camera Shots

basic camera shots are usually described in relation to a particular view and
framing of a subject in a film, video scene or clip.
exact terminology varies between video production environments but the basic principles
are the same.

Let’s take a look at some of these basic principles so that you can shoot your video like the Pros do…!


The Camera Shots Are All About “Framing”

Camera shot – framingFraming the Camera Shot!

If you are skillful… You can control the audience’s attention and emotional
response with proper framing and… in doing so… can make a much greater impact with your video production.

Now… let me make  an important distinction here…  When we’re talking about the “camera shots” we are not talking about the camera angles… We are actually talking about how the shot is framed  so that it has its intended effect on your audience!

Definition of Framing

What is “Framing”?

* “Framing” is the action of positioning the camera shot (camera’s view) so that the audience’s attention is focused on the subject or a certain aspect of the scene.

So… The shots roughly break
down into four categories:

*  Long

*  Medium

*  Close-ups

*  Extreme Close-ups

They break down like this
simply because that is what you
when you frame 
the subject or scene in your digital camera’s or camcorder’s viewfinder or LCD screen… 
And… More importantly… it is what
your audience
will  see if you include the shot in your video or film.

The camera shots are all
about “framing
the subject or scene. They are defined by how much  of the subject or scene you show in your

Framing the shot can be controlled in a few different ways…

Camera Shot Framing Tip #1

  • One way would be to change
    the distance between the video camera and your subject by physically moving the camera closer or farther away.

Camera Shot Framing Tip #2

  • Another way would be to
    change the focal length  of your lens, which controls the perceived distance to
    the subject.

For instance…  A zoom lens
(which virtually all digital video cameras and camcorders have) is a combination wide angle, normal and
telephoto lens.

You change the angle of
and the perceived distance to the subject by zooming in to a narrow angle of
view (telephoto) or zooming out to a wide angle of view.

By changing the distance to the subject or the focal length of your lens you control
the framing of the subject… How large or small the subject appears in your
viewfinder or LCD screen and ultimately on film or in the video. 
The framing of the subject
gives the audience visual clues as to what they should be thinking and feeling
about this scene as well as the perception of distance, location and space.

Examples of the Basic Camera Shots…

The Long Shot…

* You may use a long shot to
give the audience your perception of vast distance or to orient them as to where
the action is now taking place. 
The long shot can also be used as an establishing shot to orient your audience as far as location.

The Close-Up Shot…

* A close-up on the subject
can be used, in a tense moment, to heighten your audience’s anxiety. 
This type of shot can really bring the audiences attention into the scene! You have to be careful however when using this shot as too many close-ups can disorient an audience as to the location of the scene.

The Extreme Close-Up Shot…

* The extreme close-up shot is where you can get “up close and personal”. A little goes a long way with his shot… It has to be used carefully but… If you use it at the right moment it can really snap the audiences attention right into the scene!

The Medium Camera Shot…

* You may use a medium shot
to give your audience the feeling that they’re sitting there right alongside the
subject in the video or film. 
The medium shot is the “normal view” and gets the audience close enough to see the subject and the details of the scene clearly but… Far enough away to stay oriented in the surroundings and and know where the scene is taking place.

VideoEditingSage Tip!

* You can use the shot types in many ways to produce your desired
effect on your audiences!

The “Grammar” of Film and Video…

Video production terminologyVideo Production Terminology

There is a “Convention“  (a way in which something is usually done, especially within a particular
area or activity) in the video,
film and television industries that assigns names and guidelines to common
types of shots and video production processes so that they are as standard as possible throughout the industry.

These conventions are often
referred to as part of the “Grammar
of video and film production and they cover the whole gamut of the video
production process. 
These video production terms are part of the language that film and video producers speak. The exact terminology varies between video and film production environments but … the basic principles and terms that we will go over here are the same.

The naming of each camera
shot is done so that when you get into the production
of the video or film (the actual filming)…
the framing and composition of the camera shots are
understood and can be agreed upon by all.


If you’re creating your
video using the video production process then… 
Once the shots are agreed upon
they’ll make their way into the script and then on to the video production storyboard.

The camera person shooting
the film or video now knows how he or she is going to frame each shot in the
overall production… 
And can then go about planning what is needed to do this and the equipment that he must use.

If you’re a home
videographer you may not be using a storyboard and script (even though you
should plan out your video is much as possible)… But… 
Just knowing the basic
shots and how they can impact the video will help you to shoot much
better shots that can then be edited into a much more interesting video

If you want to “speak
the language” of film and video production… learning
the basic shot types are a good place to start!

And… more importantly, of course…using the camera shots types when you
shooting your video will help you produce much more interesting material… and… Your audience will love you for it!

Have fun…!  Dan (Editor)

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