It’s not that easy being creative, having to spend each day figuring out how to make your ideas come to life. As important as imagination is, you’ll need a solid technique to materialize your thoughts. Few things are as frustrating as not being able to get the results you’re aiming for. Before you start dreaming about reaching millions of visitors on your website or shooting an Academy Award–winning film, you’ll need to master the basics.
The way in which you capture a scene has a dramatic impact on how it is perceived. How you frame the subject, how far they are from the camera, the perspective from which they are seen, the movement that reveals their actions… every single detail counts when it comes to video. Failing to control these elements will likely result in unusable footage or, even worse, a beautiful video that tells a completely different story than the one you wanted to create. Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to brush up your video making skills, this collection of types of shots, camera angles, and movements will help you bring your ideas to life.
01. Establishing shot
The establishing shot is a very wide shot used at the start of a sequence. It’s used to introduce the context in which the action takes place. Aerial shots are usually the preferred pick for these scenes, as they offer an unparalleled view of locations.
Bonus point: this type of shot makes for the perfect videographer portfolio background.
02. Long shot
A long shot captures the subject within a wide view of their surroundings. This type of camera shot is commonly used to set the scene. It gives viewers a sense of perspective as they can see how the subject relates to their environment.
A closer version of the long shot is known as a full shot. In a full shot, the subject fills the frame. This captures the subject’s general appearance, while still showing the scenery surrounding them.
03. Medium shot
The medium shot is used to reveal more details on the subject, capturing them from the waist up. As it includes the subject’s hands and part of their surroundings, it’s the best way to capture actions in detail, while maintaining a general view. This is why the medium shot is one of the most popular types of shots.
There are two main variants of this shot: medium long shot and cowboy shot. The medium long shot sits halfway between long and medium shots. It frames the subject from the knees up. The cowboy shot, which cuts the frame at mid-thigh, was widely used in western movies in order to show gun holsters on cowboys’ hips.
04. Medium close-up shot
The medium close-up shot frames the subject from the chest up. It is generally used to capture enough detail on the subject’s face, while still keeping them within their surroundings. During conversations, medium close-up shots are used to keep some distance between the characters.
05. Close-up shot
A close-up shot tightly frames the subject’s face in order to focus on their emotions. These types of shots are great to connect with the audience, as there are no elements distracting them from the subject’s gestures and reactions.
06. Extreme close-up shot
In an extreme close-up shot, a detail of the subject fills the whole frame. It is used to emphasize certain features or actions. The most common use of this shot will capture a character’s eyes, mouth, or fingers performing a critical action.
07. Two shot
A two shot includes two subjects in the frame. They don’t necessarily have to be next to each other, nor given equal treatment. In many examples of a two shot, one subject is placed in the foreground and the other, in the background.
08. Bird’s-eye view
Bird’s-eye view is the name given to the type of shot taken from an elevated point. As its own name indicates, it offers a perspective similar to that which birds see while flying. This camera angle is used to magnify the scale and movement.
What used to be limited to a few selected filmmakers is now available to videographers of any level thanks to the popularity of drones. In fact, this type of camera shot will be one of the biggest video trends of 2019.
09. High angle
A high angle shot is taken pointing the camera down on the subject. As a result, the subject is perceived as vulnerable and powerless. In this type of shot, the camera angle can be anywhere from directly above the subject to just above the subject’s line of sight.
10. Eye level
The eye level shot is considered the most natural camera angle. Capturing the shot at eye-level offers a neutral perception of the subject. Because it is the way in which we usually see people, this camera angle can help the audience connect with the subject.
11. Low angle
A low angle shot is taken from below the subject’s eye line, pointing upwards. This camera angle makes a subject look powerful and imposing. This angle can create a visual distortion in types of shots closer to the subject, as it’s not a common point-of-view. Because of this, a low angle is commonly used with wider frames such as medium or medium close-up shots.
12. Worm’s-eye view
The worm’s-eye view camera angle looks at an object or subject from below. It is commonly used to capture tall elements in the scene, such as trees or skyscrapers, and put them in perspective. This type of camera shot is mostly taken from a subject’s point of view.
13. Over the shoulder
An over the shoulder framing captures the subject from behind another character. Typically, the shot will include the second character’s shoulder and part of their head. This camera angle is primarily used during conversations, as it maintains both characters in scene while focusing on one at a time.
14. Point of view
A point of view shot shows what the character is looking at. It is used to highlight specific details or actions, such as being threatened or seeing their reflection in the mirror. This type of shot allows the audience to put themselves in the shoes of the subject. As a result, it strengthens their connection with the subject and scene.
Panning is the action of moving the camera horizontally on a fixed axis. During a pan shot, the camera turns from side to side without changing its position. This type of camera shot is commonly used to follow an action or to allow viewers to get a sense of location in the sequence.
Tilting is a type of shot in films in which the camera is moved vertically on a fixed base. It is normally used to reveal the identity of new characters or relate an action with its performer. In some cases, tilt shots are used to offer a general view of the space surrounding the character.
On a dolly shot, the camera is attached to a wheeled device and smoothly moves back and forth. The device itself is known as a camera dolly. Dolly shots usually follow a subject as they move around the scene, generally in front of or behind them.
Truck shots are those in which the camera is attached to a device that moves smoothly along a horizontal track. These shots are most commonly used to follow an action or walk the audience around a scene. Because the camera itself is moving, the result allows viewers to feel as if they are also moving across the scene.
A pedestal shot involves moving the camera vertically on a fixed location. With these movement, the sigh level of the audience is changed while maintaining a same vision angle. Because the camera is not static on its axis, new details are slowly revealed to the viewer as the entire frame focus changes.
In a roll camera movement, the camera is rotated on its vertical axis. During these type of shots, the camera is pointed at the same subject. As a result, the footage is gyrated up to 180°. This movement is commonly used in action scenes or to capture a feeling of sickness and dizziness.