Types of Shots

The purpose of framing your shots is to show images as clearly as possible and to make your subject appear obvious to viewers.

Screen Size and Field of View

Screen Size:
In a wide shot that shows a landscape, there can be enormous amounts of detail. The detail shows up easily on the large screen in the cinema. But for a wide shot on a small, Web-based screen, it can be difficult to make out the small details. When you shoot video, know what screen size the images will be seen, whether on the big or small screen. For example, when planning to see the footage on the small screen, such as a Web site, photographers will use tighter, close-up shots.

Field of View:
The field of view refers to how close the subject is relative to the camera, or how close the subject appears to the viewer. These camera shots are designated as Extreme Long Shot (ELS, also called establishing shot); Long Shot (LS, also called full shot); Medium Shot (MS, also called a waist shot); Close-Up (CU); and Extreme Close-Up (ECU). An Establishing Shot is a wide shot that shows the location for a scene that takes place within the shot, e.g., a city, a building, etc. 

It's good to get a variety of shots, which will provide you with more editing options. In the field, photographers typically will shoot footage of the same object or action in the following manner: 


The Wide Shot, TIGHT, TIGHT, TIGHT describes what is called a Sequence. That is, they start with a wide shot of the object or action, and then they change their camera angle to get at least three detail (close or tight) shots within the wide shot. They will record each shot for at least 10 seconds before they get another. 

Hold each shot for at least 10 seconds

After completing one set of Wide, TIGHT, TIGHT, TIGHT shots, the photographer will move the camera sufficiently to change the angle of the scene and repeat the same pattern of shots. Hold each shot for 10 seconds. In no time at all, the photographer will have collected numerous shots in a short time, enabling them to have the variety they need for editing. 

Always get a variety of shots.

Below are examples that show how you can get a variety of shots showing people.

Extreme Close-Up (ECU)

The subject appears with very tight framing. Such a shot is used in dramatic moments when it becomes necessary to scrutinise the person's reactions or emotions. When the subject is a presenter or host, leave enough space so a lower-third graphic can appear without covering their mouth.   

Close-Up (CU)

A tight shot that is taken from above the chest and typically includes the top of the person's head (head room). The close-up is used for many interview shots and helps show the person's emotions in more details. 

Medium Close-Up (MCU)

A head & shoulders shot that ends about mid-thorax. Note that there is adequate head room. Next to the close-up, the MCU is used most frequently in television interviews (the example on the right is of a presenter or host who is addressing the audience directly. and does not represent the composition of an interview shot.

Medium Shot (MS)

The angle is taken from the waist up. 

Full Shot (FS)

This angle shows a person from head-to-toe, or the relationship between the subject and the environment. 

Establishing Shot

This shot is often an extreme wide shot that establishes the location of a scene.  When editing, this shot appears first followed by a shot of the interior where the characters interact in the scene. 

Over-the-Shoulder (OTS)

Used during scenes between people having a conversation or interviews. The camera looks over the shoulder of one person often past their cheek so we don't have to see their lips moving, which allows us to use audio from different takes of the same scene without having to worry about synching issues.  

Interview Shots, Eye-lines and Complementary Angles

An interview shot is composed as a three-quarter profile shot. The subject is looking just off-camera at the interviewer so that we can see both of their eyes. 

Use eye-lines to create the direction of view, which is the imaginary line between your eyes and the target object. A close-up of someone looking upwards followed by a close-up of a bird makes logical sense. Eye-lines are also formed by two people when they talk to each other and can be used to create continuity when the conversation is edited. 

The conversation between two people also illustrates complementary angles - one person looks to the right side of the screen and the other looks to the left side. This principle is used even when shooting a phone conversation. Violating the rules of complementary angles produces a discontinuous, if not comedic effect because the people in the shots are not in the target positions created by the eye-lines.