In this guide, you’ll learn several different types of shots to use in your next film or video project. First, we cover the basic shot types based on what is included in the frame. Next, we cover the types of shots based off of angle. Lastly, we cover types of shots with a specific purpose.
We’ve included screenshots from classic public domain films to help you visualize what each shot looks like.
Basic Shot Types:
Extreme Wide Shot (aka Extreme Long Shot)
Used to show the subject, and the entire area of the scene. The subject is usually small in frame, and details can’t be seen. It’s purpose is to show the environment that the subject is in. This can be used as an establishing shot (more on that later).
Wide Shot (aka Long Shot)
More focused on the subject than the extreme wide shot, the wide shot shows the entire subject, while also still seeing the scene the subject is in. More details about the subject can be seen.
Shows the entire subject from head to toes, practically filling the frame. Rather than just showing the subject in relation to their environment, this shot may include more action that wants to be captured.
Medium Long Shot
Also known as the ¾ shot, this shows the subject from their knees up.
Similar to the medium long shot, the cowboy shot shows the subject from their thighs up. The name comes from old Westerns where the cinematographer wanted to capture the character’s gun holsters in the shot.
Typically from the waist up, the medium shot shows more detail and is focused on the subject. This can be from the waste up for a person.
Medium Close-Up Shot
Somewhere between the medium close-up and the close-up, this shot fills the frame with the subject, usually from the chest up.
Close-Up (CU) Shot
The close-up fills the frame with your subject. If your subject is a person, this could mean framing their face to show detailed reactions and emotions. A close-up could also be used to show action, such as a shot of the subject pulling a gun from his holster.
Extreme Close-Up (XCU) Shot
What’s more close-up than close up? Extreme close-up! This shot goes in tight to show detail of a specific area of a person or scene. This could be just showing the eyes or moving lips.
Different Shot Angles:
Eye Level Shot
These are shots that are taken from the human eye level. They look natural to viewers, and don’t have much of an emotional effect on the audience.
High Angle Shot
The high angle, is shot from above eye level (from high), and is used to show the subject as smaller – perhaps weak or frightened.
Low Angle Shot
Contrast the high angle with the low angle shot, which is shot from down low looking up. This can make a subject look more domineering and powerful.
Dutch Angle (Tilt) Shot
The dutch angle shot is tilted so that the horizon is not level. Dutch angle shots are using to make the audience feel a bit disoriented.
Bird’s Eye (Top Shot) Shot
The top shot is taken from above the scene to show a wide view of the entire setting.
Similar to the bird’s eye shot, but taken to the extreme, the aerial shot is taken with a drone or helicopter. It’s usually wider than a top-shot and may be more for establishing a scene than showing a subject within the scene.
More Shots and Purposes:
The establishing shot is usually the first shot of a scene used to establish the scene’s environment. It can also help show the time of day or year.
The cut-in is a close-up shot that shows a more detailed view of something already within the scene (i.e. something smaller that’s in a wide shot).
The cutaway is a shot of something that isn’t seen in the wide shot or the other shot of the scene, and is used to show something away from the mains scene.
The master shot is usually the main shot of a scene that can be used by the editor throughout an entire scene. Close ups and other shots may be cut in with the master shot. The master shot is usually a wide shot, but can also be a medium or close up.
The over-the-shoulder shot is positioned behind a character’s shoulder, and shows another character speaking. Usually, this is to capture a conversation between two people.
Point of View Shot (POV)
The POV shot shows what a character is seeing.
The two shot is a medium shot that shows two characters at the same time in the same frame. The purpose is to show how these two characters are interacting.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of shots and the visual examples that hopefully give you an idea for how these shots work.
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!
Phil + the Video School Online Team