Film and video production uses variations of Long, Medium and Close-Up shots to communicate visually. The shot descriptions refer to the field of view in the camera viewfinder.

  • Long Shot (LS): gives a full picture of the subject showing what it is and where it is located. Long shots are usually used as the first shot of a scene to establish the location. When shooting people, the LS is a head-to-toe view.
  • Medium Shot (MS): brings the subject closer to the viewer isolating it from the surroundings. While a LS shows an entire building, the MS may concentrate on the main entrance, or a suite of office windows. When shooting a person, the MS is a head-to-waist view. The MS is a compromise between the general view of LS and the impact of a close-up.
  • Close-up (CU): is the most powerful shot in videography. It establishes an intimacy between subject and audience. It isolates the subject from its environment. When shooting people, a CU is a head-to-chest view. The CU is especially important in videography because the TV picture is small. If you want your footage to have power you must give your audience visual details only CU's can capture.
  • Extreme LS (XLS), MCU (XMCU) and CU (XCU) are obvious variations on the three basic shot types.


Camera angle is extremely important for setting the relationship between the viewer and the subject. For interesting video, try placing the camera in ways that give the viewer different aspects than they would normally see in day-to-day living.

  • Birds eye view - straight above the subject looking down.
  • High angle - above looking down at the subject. This establishes the viewer as the authority and the subject submissive.
  • Eye level - equal, looking level with the subject. This establishes a peer relationship with the subject and the viewer.
  • Low angle - below, looking up at subject. This establishes the viewer as submissive and the subject the authority.
  • Canted or Dutch - framing rotated 25 to 45 degrees


Follow The Script

Read the entire script before the day's shoot. Reread the scene in the script before you shot it. A lot of time and effort will have gone into the organization of the project. It is up to you to follow what the producers and writers what the audience to see and hear. There is no rule stating that you shouldn't give them more than they ask for (within reason). But give them something less or something entirely different it is a crime against the project. Everything you do affects the jobs down stream in the production cycle. Please make their jobs as easy as possible.

Always Capture 5 to 10 Seconds Either Side

When you assemble the movie in post-production, there must be some leeway in each shot. Some post-production equipment uses something called a pre-roll. This is an amount of time that the equipment needs to start at before the actual capture begins.

Sometime the action or the visuals are timed to some other external timing like a voice over dialog or music. You need to be able to adjust the shot length slightly to make things work. If there is no room to extend the beginning or end of the shot, there is little the editor can do to correctly time it up.

Give Editors Something To Use

Keep the camera as steady as possible. If panning and zooming, do it at a steady natural pace. Keep the action in the frame. Letting the action move out of the frame is a good transition point.

Shoot Two or More Cameras

For more interesting video it is always a good idea to show more than one point-of-view of a subject. Using two or more cameras is always suggested.

  • 45 to 90 Degrees off main camera
  • more close-ups
  • Cut-aways and Insert shots
  • Ambient and Behind the Scenes Shots

Long Shots Of Crowd Or Audience

Sometimes it is important to show reaction to an event. This helps the audience relate to the event or action on the screen.

Cut-Aways and Inserts

Cut-aways and inserts are video clips that an editor uses to to help establish and support an idea during the editing process. They can also be used to fill in for bad video and are really handy when assembling an interview. For cut-aways and inserts shot:

  • Brochures & Programs
  • Before event shots
  • Stage Setup
  • Location Shots
  • Signage
  • People gathering and milling around
  • Weather outside
  • Night & Day Setting
  • Rehearsals