A good shot list maximizes shooting time and limits downtime across all departments. In this post, we lay out the essentials of a shot list, and provide the best film & photography shot list template you’ll ever need.
- Write out your list of camera shots.
- Group the camera shots by setups.
- Reorder the setups into the most efficient order of shooting.
Create a shot list
How to make a shot list strategically?
Create a shot list in three steps:
That’s the gist of it. But like most things, the devil’s in the details. Writing out a shot is easy, conceptualizing is hard.
What is a shot list?
The anatomy of a shot list
A shot list is typically comprised of:
The Anatomy of a Shot List
Popular framing and camera angles for your shot list
camera movement types
Types of camera movements to use when creating a shot list
Our shot list template includes the following camera movement terms as drop-downs.
|When the shot is locked off, the camera doesn’t pan, tilt, zoom or change in any way.|
|When you rotate the camera horizontally from a fixed location.|
|When you rotate the camera vertically from a fixed location.|
|When the camera is moved vertically up or down (without tilting).|
|When you move the entire camera forwards and backwards along a track.|
|The same as dollying, only you are moving the entire camera from left to right instead of forward and backward.|
|Used in combo with dolly or truck to show a curve in the dolly track.|
|When the camera is stabilized using a special rig onto the body of a specialized operator.|
|The camera is held by the operator without a stabilizer.|
Crane or Boom
|When you have a shot that starts extremely high and moves to a lower position or vice versa. Often used for overhead and establishing shots.|
|When you zoom in or out of a subject.|
|This is more a technique than a move. Rack focus is when the focus changes quickly from one subject to another in the same shot.|
|A technique where the camera moves closer or further from the subject while simultaneously adjusting the zoom angle to keep the subject the same size in the frame.|
Identify the camera equipment that will be supporting the camera (i.e. tripod, crane, dolly, etc). This helps you anticipate the set up time for equipment changes.
Setup can eat up a lot of time over the course of a day. Once the camera is set with specific equipment (or lens) shoot as many setups with that gear before switching.
11. CAMERA LENS
The Lens column helps your DP and assistant camera team (ACs) prep for upcoming shots. Changing the lens constitutes a new setup, and takes time to accomplish. Minimize setup time by grouping your shotlist by lens setups.
12. SOUND REQUIREMENTS
Is a shot covered with a boom mic or a lav mic? Both? Is the shot MOS (without sound)? If you have a complex sound setup add it to the Notes column.
13. CUSTOM NOTES
Our film shot list template has two notes sections: notes for specific shots and notes for the whole scene. These could be used in a variety of ways, including setups, meal breaks, etc.
14. SCRIPT TIME
Script Time is the approximate run-time of the shot. This will help you identify the total shooting time. To approximate the script time of a scene or shot, time yourself as you read the scene and all the dialogue aloud.
Remember that insert shots are often the easiest to shoot, requiring minimal talent, crew and gear. Factor them strategically into your camera shot list while other shots are being prepped. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of insert shots on standby to keep shooting during downtime.
15. ESTIMATED NUMBER OF TAKES
This is an educated guess but will help determine the total estimated time needed to get the shot. Take into consideration the the complexity of the shot, its importance to the story, and the execution challenge for talent.
16. SHOOT TIME
Based on the script time, setup time and estimated number of takes, the shot list template will automatically generate an estimated shoot time for every shot.
We also add an additional five minutes of padding to every estimate just to play it safe.
17. TAKE NUMBR (MARK ON SET)
This column is where you can mark your favorite takes when you’re shooting on set. Afterwards you can share the best take numbers with your editor.
18. STATUS (THE SHOT LOG)
Similar to the Take Number above, the first column is meant to be filled out on set. Once the shot is complete, mark the row with the ✓ to track your progress.
Pro Tip: Marking shots as Nice-to-Have in advance helps everyone better prioritize the essentials on set—helpful if you start falling behind schedule.
Shot List Example: Matt Komo's Shot List
Looking for a shot list example? Watch travel filmmaker Matt Komo plan out all the essential shots and camera setups he needed for 24-hour shoot.
SYNC WITH SHOOTING SCHEDULE
Sync your shot list with your shooting schedule
A complex shot can tack on hours to a preexisting shooting schedule, limiting what you can shoot in a single day.
So, adjust according. Be sure to send your finalized shot list to your UPM, upload a PDF to an online file sharing sites like Dropbox, and hold a meeting to determine how the schedule will shift and what shots are feasible.
In some production management software, like StudioBinder, you can eliminate this process entirely. Since your shot lists are saved under your scene strips, your shooting schedule and call sheets automatically adjust.
Not to mention, everyone can view, edit, and comment on the shot list within the app.
Download the Shot List Template
There are times when all you need is a basic, quick shot list (i.e. a photography shot list template, etc.) and other times when you need something more robust. So we’ve created both! Download them both below.
Up Next: How to create a better shooting schedule?
And that’s the anatomy of a shot list! But why stop there. You can take your shot list a step further and incorporate a storyboard template as well. Storyboards are a great way to visual the project and lock your most important shots.
Before you dive into the nitty gritty of creating a daily shot list, it’s important to holistically plan the entire production schedule out. Check out our script breakdown example and 15 ways create a better shooting schedule.
Did we miss anything? Please leave your feedback or comments below!