Tag Archives: Shot Sizes

A movie can send messages to the viewer through diverse camera shots.

Shots are extremely important in constructing meaning in either a documentary or a film. In reality, each shot size is associated with information and significance. Different shot sizes will be chosen by a video producer or director to impact the structure and meaning of a film.

So, let’s go through some camera shots in further detail.

Different Shot Sizes

Medium Long Shot (MLS)

Medium Long Shot (MLS)

The medium-long shot is also known as the three-quarters shot. It is a head to the knees shot. It gives the opportunity to see some of the environment.

Medium Shot (MS)

If the subject is a person, a medium shot frames the subject from the waist up. That is why it is known as the waist shot. It shows a person’s upper body, arms, and head and still reveals some of the background. It is generally used to show an interaction between characters and allow viewers to see their body language (especially hand movements) and their clothes. It can also be used to show someone doing a top table demonstration. An MS can also be an area equal to the height of a seated figure.

Medium Close Up (MCU)

A medium close-up shows the subject in more detail and is often framed from just below the shoulders to the top of the head. It is normally halfway between a mid-shot and a close-up. It shows the face of a person to enable viewers to see nuances of emotions. An MCU reveals little of the surroundings and is commonly used for interviews in documentaries and news programs.

Close Up (CU)

Close Up (CU)

In a close-up shot, the camera is near enough to allow one element of the scene to fill almost the entire frame. It is also referred to as a “head shot’. It concentrates on either the face of a person or a specific detail of an object and everything is blurred in the background. It is close enough to capture facial expressions clearly and enable viewers to understand a character’s emotions. In films, close-ups are commonly used for emotional impact and dramatic moments to show people in a state of emotional excitement, grief or joy. A close-up shot can be a close shot of one person, 2 persons, 3 persons, etc or a close shot of an object.

However, you should be careful while showing close-ups because an object can look bigger than it actually is.

Extreme Close Up (ECU) or Big Close Up (BCU)

It is an extreme version of a close-up in which you get tiny detail of a character or of an object. It allows you to see things greater than the human eye might be able to normally perceive. For example, it will show only the lips or eyes of someone with no background detail whatsoever. A BCU creates an intense mood and is common in horror movies to build suspense.

Two- Shot

As its name implies, a two-shot is a type of shot that depicts two people in one camera angle. It is usually used to show the relationship between two persons or characters. In motion pictures, the most frequent variety of two-shots that is used is the profile two-shot, showing two persons involved in a dialogue. The director could shoot the action using a medium shot or an over-the-shoulder shot depending on the effect that he/she wants to achieve. The two-shot can also be used when two characters are walking and talking side by side.

Over-The-Shoulder Two- Shot

 

Over-The-Shoulder Two- Shot

Over-the-shoulder two-shot is framed when the camera shoots over one person’s shoulder to another person’s body. The most commonly used framing is the MCU. The camera is positioned in such a way to show someone as seen over-the-shoulder of another person in the foreground. It is more commonly used for when two people are having an interview and in any other conversation sequences or to show the reaction of the listener in a conversation. In films, it is also used to show someone’s facial expressions.

 

Like any other language, television, video and films are means of communication. Through camera shots, they transmit messages to the audience. Shots are very essential in shaping meaning in either a documentary or a movie. In fact, every shot size has information and meanings attached to it. A video producer or director will choose different shot sizes to influence the structure and meaning of a film.

So, let’s learn more about camera shots.

What Is a Shot?

A shot is normally described as a single continuous recording or uninterrupted take made by the camera. Several frames make up a shot. It is what is recorded between the time a camera starts and the time it stops. A shot has no internal cuts or edits. A video film is usually shot at a frame rate of 24 frames per second and is composed of several shots.

Different Shot Sizes

Moving images have a defined vocabulary of shots, camera angles and camera movements. The camera shot size identifies how large an area will be visible within the frame. However, it is important to the point that the exact terminology varies between production environments but the basic principles are the same. A way of defining camera shots is by relating them to people as shown on the screen.

Therefore shots are called by different names based on their frame size. The following common shot sizes indicate that the distance between the camera and subject varies.

Extreme Wide Shot

Extreme Wide Shot

An extreme wide shot or extreme long shot or a very wide angle shot is commonly designed to show large distances and is traditionally used in the exterior shooting. It covers a wide area. Its aim is to see the surroundings more than focusing on a single object and is generally used at the beginning of a scene. In film, an EWS is used as a scene setting at the beginning and also as a wrap-up scene at the end. In fact, it is commonly used to show the audience where the action is taking place. It is usually meant to give more a general impression than specific information and is used to impress the viewer with the vast scope of the setting.

Wide Shot

Wide Shot

A wide shot shows a broad view of an entire location, a subject or an action. It normally shows the outside of a building, a city or any other landscape to enable viewers to discover the location. The wide shot also shows the atmosphere and mood of the scene, indicating whether it is a beautiful sunny day or a dull winter rainy day.

When a wide shot is used to set up a location and its participants in a film, it is referred to as an establishing shot due to the fact that it often establishes the location of a scene before the action takes place. As its name implies, an establishing shot shows where the action is taking place, whether it is a large forest, a busy street, a room, a beach or a big city. An establishing shot of a party on the beach might show the entire beach area. Often wide shots of famous familiar sights are used as establishing shots to indicate the city where the action is taking place, such as Eiffel Tower to indicate Paris or Big Ben to identify London.

Moreover, a film could start by showing an apartment building or the outside of a hospital followed by an interior shot of people acting to indicate where the action is taking place. It is normally recommended to use wide shots time and again in a production to re-establish the location of the scene in the viewer’s mind.

Full Shot

Full Shot

When filming a person, a full shot shows the person’s entire body with the head at the top of the frame and the feet at the bottom. In films, it is used to show a complete view of a character and also gives a view of the area where the action is taking place. The FS is normally avoided when important detail must be conveyed.

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