Basic Camera Shots & Angles For Filmmaking
Updated: Oct 8
Camera shots are a hugely important part of filmmaking and video production. Combining different types of shots, angles and movement can help you evoke different emotions in your films and tell more effective stories.
This article will detail some of the most common shots types used in filmmaking, and what they are most used for.
EXTREME WIDE/LONG SHOT
Our first shot is the Extreme Wide Shot, or Extreme Long Shot. Like the name implies, The extreme wide or long shot has our subject appear really small compared to the location they are inhabiting. You can use this shot to emphasize the enormity of a location, make your subject feel distant, overwhelmed, isolated, and unfamiliar, and it can just be a good way to show the audience the character's surroundings.
Next up is the Long Shot or Wide Shot. This shot is basically the same as the extreme wide, but pulled in a bit closer to the subject. When your subject is a person, their whole body should be in view. There still should be plenty of space above and below your subject. This is a great shot to use if your wanting to showcase the subjects environment a bit. It is also a great shot to establish your subject in their setting.
This is a full shot, This shot still gives us an eyeful of our surroundings, but the subjects full body is in view. You can use a full shot to feature several characters in a single shot, and give the audience a better look at how they compare to one another.
MEDIUM WIDE/LONG SHOT
The medium wide shot or medium long shot will show your subject anywhere from the knees up.
The cowboy shot is a variation of the medium wide. Here we see the character from the middle thigh up. This shot got its name from its use in westerns to display a gunslinger, and his holster or gun sitting upon his hip.
Now we have arrived at the medium shot. A medium shot is a great shot to use in between other shots to show contrast, its a very standard shot, captured from the subjects waist up. It can also be a great shot to use when shooting a dialogue scene.
MEDIUM CLOSE UP
Next we have the medium close-up. A medium close up is going to feature your subject from the chest up. This shot will begin to bring more focus on the face of your subject, but it still keeps them far enough away to seem distant to the viewer. This is a great way to show the audience emotions or expressions on a subject's face, but also retain a bit of the background as well. This shot can also be used to give a scene a very neutral feeling.
The close-up shot is the go-to shot when you really want to give your audience a look at your subjects reaction and show their emotions. When shooting this shot, be sure to fill up some of the frame with the part of your subject you want to emphasize, most often than not, that will be the subject's face. The close up is near enough to the subject to show the audience slight changes in emotion, but not so close that it's making our audience feel uncomfortable, or confused in most cases.
EXTREME CLOSE UP
Speaking of uncomfortable, the extreme close gets us uncomfortably close to objects that we want to draw great attention to. Eyes, mouths, dirty fingernails... anything you want to make sure your audience is well aware of the importance of is all fair game. Be sure to fill your frame in a way that allows the audience to drink in all of the tiny details of whatever it is you are wanting to highlight.
The establishing shot is another shot type that you may hear mentioned often. Establishing shots are used best to set the scene, and usually used at the beginning of a scene to give the audience a good idea of the location the scene will inhabit. These shots can be drone shots flying overhead of a location, or something like a wide shot that gives us a good look at the exterior of a building or house where the scene will be taking place.
Knowing the basic shots most commonly used in filmmaking can help you to be more efficient when planning out your shoots, make you more confident on set, and help you to tell better stories.
Are there any shots that you feel should have been mentioned in this list? Please let us know in the comments below!