You’re just starting to dive into video marketing for your small business and you’re working with a producer or director for the first time; maybe you’re even working with us. This can be extremely exciting but also a little overwhelming. It may seem like we’re speaking a completely different language and, in some ways, we are. Every industry has lingo unique unto itself and the film industry is no exception.
From types of camera shots we use to the names for pieces of gear, it can sometimes feel like a code. If you’re unfamiliar with the different terms and verbiage used it can not only feel alienating but also frustrating. We want to help remove that frustration and bring you into the fold when it comes to video production.
There are so many terms that are unique to the film industry it’s going to take us multiple articles to even make a dent, but the best place to start is with a list of the different types of camera shots. These shot types will be what a director uses when they’re figuring out how to shoot a scene. Knowing the different types of shots in film will help you to envision the project along with the director as you discuss it together. The main thing to remember when talking about types of camera shots is that they’re all describing the camera’s relationship to the subject that the viewer is supposed to be focused on.
Extreme Long (ELS) / Extreme Wide Shot (EWS)
The Extreme Wide Shot includes your subject but the main focus is the surrounding environment. This is often used as an establishing shot at the beginning of a scene to let the viewer know where they are. What the subject is doing is less important in an Extreme Wide than what’s happening around the subject.
To clarify, the terms Long Shot and Wide Shot are interchangeable so it’s really a matter of personal preference when someone uses one over the other. We tend to use “Wide Shot” on our projects for no real reason other than we like the imagery it evokes.
Long Shot (LS) / Wide Shot (WS)
From here, every shot starts to get progressively closer to the subject. So, the regular Wide Shot moves in a bit and the focus shifts from the environment to the subject in relation to their environment. The entire subject should be visible in a Wide Shot but not filling up the entire frame. So, if it’s a person, you can see them from head to toe as well as their surroundings; if it’s a car you can see it from top to bottom, end to end and the space it’s occupying. A Wide Shot can often be used in place of an Extreme Wide Shot when you’re establishing your location at the beginning of a scene. If you’re really interested in how the Hollywood players use Wide Shots take a look at this article from Master Class.
Closer still, a Full Shot now makes the subject the main focus in the frame. If your subject is a person then you’re seeing that person from the top of their head to the tips of their toes and the majority of the frame is occupied by this subject. There is very little space for anything else except for a bit of surrounding environment. This camera shot is great for introducing your character while they’re physically doing something but not necessarily relaying any important information about the character’s emotional state.
Medium Shot (MS)
The Medium Shot is one of the most popular and frequent types of camera shots used in film. It typically frames the character from the waste up and still gives a bit of detail about their surroundings. There is a comfortability with this shot, it feels like you’re a proper distance from the subject. Emotionally, wider shots can give a feeling of emptiness or being alone and close up shots, as we’re about to find out, can give a sense of tension or intimacy when used purposefully by the director.
Medium Close-Up (MCU)
Slightly closer than a Medium Shot, the Medium Close-Up is where we really start to find the emotion of our subject. This shot frames the subject from the chest up and the focus is now starting to shift away from any surroundings. If you’re filming a scene that involves a conversation between two people, this type of camera shot delivers an intimate feeling.
In the Close-Up, we are now 100% focused on our subject as they take up almost the entire frame. Often used to show the emotion on your subjects face, the framing is the entirety of their head and not much else. If your subject is not a person but a product, the Close-Up can be useful in focusing the viewers’ attention on the star of the show.
Extreme Close-Up (ECU)
In general, the Extreme Close-Up is as close as you get. This shot has the subject filling the entire frame and every little detail is on display. An extremely useful shot when trying to convey intense emotion or calling attention to a very specific detail of an object or a scene. Use this shot sparingly and it will have an incredible effect in your final product. StudioBinder does an incredibly thorough deep dive into close-up shots in this article.
As we said at the top of the article, this list covers the basic shot types and only scratches the surface of what’s out there. The important thing to remember is that you are not required to memorize all of these types of camera shots and how they’re used. That’s why you hire professionals to help you through the video production process. Professionals like us! Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your next project whether it’s a corporate video, real estate walk through, or a short or feature film. In other articles we’ll cover alternate and advanced shots, different camera angles, camera movements, and much more. If you have any questions about anything we cover in our articles or would like to request a specific topic please let us know. We always love hearing from you!