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Shots, Camera View Points, Camera Movements

Posted on 09 May 2011 by Aakanksha Shahi

Shot:A shot is the basic unit of a film and refers to one length of continuous (unedited) action.In film, a shot is a continuous strip of motion picture film, created of a series of frames, that runs for an uninterrupted period of time.

Shots in relation to distance:

  • Extreme Wide/ Long Shot (EWS) In the extreme wide shot, the view is so far from the subject isn’t even visible. The point of this shot is to show the subject’s surroundings designed to show the audience where the action is taking place.
  • Long shot A long shot (sometimes referred to as a full shot or a wide shot) typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings; however, it is not as far away as an extreme long shot would be.
  • Medium shot A medium shot is a camera shot from a medium distance. a shot of the person from the knees up or the waist up is a close-up shot.

  • Establishing shot An establishing shot sets up, or “establishes”, a scene’s setting and/or its participants. Typically it is a shot at the beginning (or, occasionally, end) of a scene indicating where, and sometimes when, the remainder of the scene takes place.

Or an establishing shot might just be a long shot of a room that shows all the characters from a particular scene. For example, a scene about a murder in a college lecture hall might begin with a shot that shows the entire room — including the lecturing professor and the students taking notes.

  • Close-up shot A close-up tightly frames a person or object. The most common close-ups are ones of actors’ faces. They are also used extensively in stills photography.

Major characters are often given a close-up when they are introduced as a way of indicating their importance. Leading characters will have multiple close-ups.

Types of close-up: There are various degrees of close-up depending on how zoomed in the shot is.

o   Medium Close Up: Half-way between a mid shot and a close-up. Usually cover’s the subject’s head and shoulders.

o   Close Up: A certain feature, such as someone’s head, takes up the whole frame.

o   Extreme Close Up : The shot is so tight that only a fraction of the focus of attention, such as someone’s eyes, can be seen

Camera movement

Film is a spacio-temporal art form. Other forms are not spacio-temporal because they do not use space and time at the same time or simultaneously. We can create enthusiasm in an otherwise static shot simply by moving the camera. Some basic shots are: Panning, Tilt, Dolly, Track, Arc and Zoom.

  • Panning A pan is a horizontal camera movement in which the camera moves left and right about a central axis. Pan shots are used to show the viewer more of the scenery. This technique is also often used to show views from high places, such as overlooks.
  • Tilting A tilt done with a mounted camera is quite simple. We just move the camera up or down, without lowering or raising the position of the camera. This is must like panning, only it is done vertically. This video camera technique is used to follow the subject that you are photographing, or to show the viewer a large object from top of bottom – or from bottom to top.
  • Dolly Dollying refers to moving the camera forward or backward in a scene. Although, at first glance, dollying may seem similar to zooming, the two are different in terms of how and why you use them. You dolly by moving the camera, whereas you zoom in and out by adjusting the lens.

We can make our own dolly with a wheelchair, a scooter, a skateboard, a rolling cart, or many other devices that have wheels. This camera movement technique is used to follow your subject. The use of a dolly opens up many possibilities, especially when used in conjunction with other techniques. It helps us to roll backwards as well as forward.

  • Track When the camera is mounted on a cart which travels along tracks for a very smooth movement, it is known as a tracking shot.

A track is a lateral, sideways, travel shot, with the entire camera and tripod being moved right or left. The track shot differs from a pan; in that, the depth of field in a track shot is maintained as the whole unit, the tripod and camera – moves past the objects.

  • Zoom All camcorders are equipped with a zoom lens with a servo button marked T (for tight) and W (for wide). Zooming in and out changes the focal length and, therefore the size of the image with varying speeds while the camera is stationary. Be careful not to zoom too quickly on your subjects and use sparingly.

Camera viewpoint

  • Angles Although the term angle is often used on the set to designate simple camera position, it also has a more limited meaning in terms of camera resources, that is, the height and orientation, or level, of the camera in relationship to the subject.

  • Low-angle shot A low-angle shot is one in which the camera is below the subject, angled upward. It has a tendency to make characters or environments look threatening, powerful or intimidating. The low angle shot can also give a distorted perspective, showing a world out of balance. This can produce a sense of both disorientation and foreboding.
  • High-angle shot The high-angle shot is obviously the opposite of low-angle, and its effects are the opposite as well. The camera is placed above the subject, pointing down. It tends to diminish a subject, making it look intimidated or threatened. This is the conventional way of making characters look insignificant.
  • Eye-level shot Eye-level shots are those taken with camera on or near the eye-level of the character or subject being filmed. Eye-level shots tend to be neutral. Much like the medium shot, an eye-level shot puts the viewer on equal footing with the subject being filmed. It has none of the diminishing or exaggerating qualities of the high and low-angle shots.
  • Bird’s-eye view The bird’s-eye view, also called an overhead shot, is actually a variation of the high-angle shot but is so extreme that it has an effect all its own. This shot is from directly above and tends to have a God-like, omniscient point of view; people look ant-like and insignificant. It is used for dramatic effects or for showing a different spatial perspective. It enable the audience to see things which the characters cannot.

  • Oblique shot In an oblique shot, also called the Dutch angle, the camera is tilted laterally on a tripod so it is no longer parallel with the horizon. The oblique shot takes the straight lines of the world and presents them as diagonals. It is generally used to give an overwhelming sense of the world being unbalanced or out of kilter. This angle is used for dramatic effects & helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness etc.
  • Point-of-view shotA Point-of -view shot represents the perception or viewpoint of a specific character. It is not used as frequently as one might at first presume, primarily because camera vision and human vision are decidedly not the same.

There are two types of point-of-view shots: Subjective and objective.

When the camera assumes the position of one of the characters in the story, and we see the whole story from his/her perspective, it is a subjective shot.

When the camera assumes the position of a third person watching the scene unfold, it is an objective.

A POV shot need not be the strict point-of-view of an actual single character in a film. Sometimes the point-of-view shot is taken over the shoulder of the character (third person), who remains visible on the screen.

  • Bottom angle Views the object from the bottom side.
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