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10 Basic Filmmaking Shots for Every Cinematographer

The below shots are the most common ones found in prominent scripts. The cinematographer plays the primary role in bringing them to life.

Here are 10 basic filmmaking shots that every aspiring cinematographer should know about - 

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Extreme Long Shot

An Extreme Long Shot (ELS) is a long distance shot that is captured mostly as an establishing shot. These shots capture wide landscapes, huge building exteriors in a city or skyline. It is not necessary for any character to be visible in an ELS shot. But if any character is included in the shot then it is mostly done to establish the feel of the character’s emotional bond with the environment or nature.

Long Shot

A long shot mostly features a character or subject a little more predominantly than an extreme long shot. The character in a long shot can be seen within a little closer distance and from head to toe. In a long shot (also known as wide shot), the background of the character is still given much importance and is visible throughout the screen.

A wide shot is often captured to give the viewers the view of a bystander while watching the shot.

The above video will make the concept of wide shots more clear as it is a compilation long shots from 6 films directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The films are Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will be Blood (2007), The Master (2012).

Medium Shot

A medium shot takes a viewer closer to the character. It frame character/s from head to waist. The shot is close enough to get a complete view to the characters and also wide enough to set up the background. Medium shots include both group scenes as well as solo scenes.

Close Up Shot

A close up shot captures the entire face of a person on the frame from head to chin. The shot is generally used to focus on emotionally charged scenes.

The 1928 French film, The Passion of Joan Arc, was made with majority of close up shots.

Extreme Close Up Shot

Extreme Close Up is the kind of shot in which only a certain specific feature of a human face is captured. The shot was used extensively in the 70s-80s Bollywood films.

Dutch Angle Shot

The Dutch of Angle shot is used with the intention of creating an unsettling event on screen. Before using the Dutch Angle Shot, such an unsettling moment from the screenplay is to be identified and then enhanced. There are 5 aspects that is to be kept in mind while opting for a Dutch Angle Shot – Tilt of the camera, camera height, choice of lens and depth of field.

Over The Shoulder Shot

Over the Shoulder shots are mainly used in conversational scenes wherein a shoulder is in front of the frame keeping another character or object in focus.

Tracking Shot

A tracking shot is required when an object, human or animals are required to be followed in the frame. A dolly, which is basically a wheeled cart is used to move along the frame smoothly to track characters on frame. Now even drones are used to shoot tracking scenes.

Point Of View Shot

A POV angle or shot presents the frame in front of the audience showing what a particular character or characters are looking at. There are three kinds of POV shots – Omniscient, Single Character and Group. These three POV shots show us the view point through which we view the actions on screen.

Crane Shot

Crane shots aren’t required in every film. However, they add production value to a film. These shots are used to shoot a vertical shot by making the camera move up or down by a number of feet. Earlier, these shots were captured through expensive cranes but now drones are used for such shots.

iLEAD from the academic year of 2019 has started undergraduate and post graduate degree programs in Film and TV Production. Our Film and TV Production courses are content driven and focus on method filmmaking. Students who aspire to join the film industry can enroll into our program of Film and TV Production to get the opportunity to learn the art of filmmaking using modern technology through latest equipment. 

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