Camera Shots and Camera Angles in Filmmaking - Social - StudioBinder

It’s easy to mix up the different types of camera shots out there. But if you’re a creative, it’s important to have a firm understanding of the several types of camera shots.

This includes camera shot attributes like shot size, shot framing, camera movement, camera mechanisms, and depth of field.

This post breaks down all the camera shots you need to know and their uses in film. We also include shot lists that you can save or print so you’ll always have a guide to take with you with professional examples.

1

Camera ShotS

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAMERA SHOTS

Types of Camera Shots — The Shot Size

Camera Shot Size Overview 

Below you'll find a shot size cheatsheet to see exactly how each shot size will look on screen, and how to differentiate the various shot sizes: 

Camera Shots - Chart of Camera Shot Sizes Diagram Infographic - StudioBinder

More types of camera shots that correspond to a subject

At the bottom of this section we provide a link to a PDF shot list that has examples of each shot sized used in popular films and television shows.

Okay, onto shot sizes!

Extreme Wide Example

Extreme Long Shot (ELS) or Extreme Wide Shot (EWS)

An extreme long shot (or extreme wide shot) make your subject appear small against their location. You can use an extreme long shot to make your subject feel distant or unfamiliar.

Take a look at this extreme wide shot from Mad Max: Fury Road:

Camera Shot Guide - Extreme Wide Shot - Mad Mad Fury Road - StudioBinder

(EWS) Extreme Wide Shot Example | Mad Max: Fury Road

It can also make your subject feel overwhelmed by its location. Of all the various camera shots out there, consider using the extreme long shot when you need to emphasize the location or isolation. 

Wide Shot Example

Long Shot (LS) or Wide Shot (WS)

The long shot (also known as a wide shot abbreviated “WS”) is the same idea, but a bit closer. If your subject is a person then his or her whole body will be in view -- but not filling the shot.

Camera Shot Guide - Wide Shot - The Martian - StudioBinder

(WS) Wide Shot Example | The Martian

In other words, there should be a good deal of space above and below your subject. Use a long shot (or wide shot) to keep your subject in plain view amidst grander surroundings. 

The wide shot also lets us see the beautiful background imagery, as well as the onlookers which will make any big moment more cinematic. 

Of the many camera shots, a long shot gives us a better idea of the scene setting, and gives us a better idea of how the character fits into the area.

Full Shot Example

Full Shot (FS)

Now let's talk about camera shots that let your subject fill the frame while keeping emphasis on scenery. Like in this full shot from Thor:

Camera Shot Guide - Full Shot 2 - Django Unchained - StudioBinder

(FS) Full Shot Example | Django Unchained

This full shot from Django Unchained is also a tracking shot — meaning there is camera movement featured throughout the shot. In this particular case, the camera slowly moves (or tracks) towards Django. So, technically, this shot begins in a wide shot, moves to full shot (seen above), and eventually ends in a cowboy shot.  

Of all the different types of camera shots in film, full shots can be used to feature multiple characters in a single shot, like this full shot size example from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy:

Definitive Guide to Camera Shots - Full Shot - Guardians of the Galaxy

(FS) Full Shot Example | Guardians of the Galaxy

MEDIUM WIDE SHOT EXAMPLE

Medium Wide Shot (MWS)

medium long shot (aka medium long shot) frames the subject from roughly the knees up. It splits the difference between a full shot and a medium shot. Here's an example of the medium wide shot size:

Definitive Guide to Camera Shots - Medium Wide Shot - Usual Suspects

(MWS) Medium Wide Shot Example | The Usual Suspects

You can always frame camera shots from any angle as well, so don't be afraid to think about medium long shots when behind a character:

Cowboy SHOT Example

Cowboy Shot (CS)

A variation on this is the Cowboy Shot, which frames the subject from roughly mid-thighs up. It’s called a “cowboy shot” because it is used in Westerns to frame a gunslinger’s gun or holster on his hip.

Different Types of Shots Cowboy Shot Wonder Woman

(CS) Cowboy Shot Camera Shot | Wonder Woman

Here is an example of a cowboy shot that's used in a film that has nothing to do with cowboys, and it's also a three shot:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Cowboy Medium Shot in Kings Speech

(CS) Cowboy Shot Example | The King’s Speech

MEDIUM SHOT EXAMPLE

Medium Shot (MS)

Let's move onto camera shots that reveal your subject in more detail.

The medium shot is one of the most common camera shots. It's similar to the cowboy shot above, but frames from roughly the waist up and through the torso. So it emphasizes more of your subject while keeping their surroundings visible. Here's an example of the medium shot size:

Camera Shot Guide - Medium Shot - X-Men Days of Future Past - StudioBinder

(MS) Medium Shot Example | X-Men: Days of Future Past

Medium shots may seem like the most standard camera shot around, but every shot size you choose will have an effect on the viewer. A medium shot can often be used as a buffer shot for dialogue scenes that have an important moment later that will be shown in a close-up shot.

If you don't use all of the different types of camera shots in film, how can you signal anything to your viewer without shot size contrast. 

MEDIUM CLOSE-UP SHOT EXAMPLE

Medium Close Up (MCU)

The medium close-up frames your subject from roughly the chest up. So it typically favors the face, but still keeps the subject somewhat distant.

Here's an example of the medium close-up shot size:

Camera Shot Guide - Medium Close Up - Single Shot - No Country for Old Men - StudioBinder

(MCU) Medium Close Up Example | No Country for Old Men

The medium close-up camera shot size keeps the characters eerily distant even during their face-to-face conversation.

CLOSE-UP SHOT EXAMPLE

Close Up (CU)

You know it’s time for a close-up shot when you want to reveal a subject’s emotions and reactions. The close-up camera shot fills your frame with a part of your subject. If your subject is a person, it is often their face. Here's an example of the close-up shot size:

Camera Shot Guide - Close Up Shot -The Usual Suspects - StudioBinder

(CU) Close-Up Shot | The Usual Suspects

Of all the different types of camera shot sizes in film, a close-up is perfect for moments that are important. The close-up shot size is near enough to register tiny emotions, but not so close that we lose visibility.

Extreme Close-Up Shot Example

Extreme Close Up (ECU)

An extreme close-up is the most you can fill a frame with your subject. It often shows eyes, mouth and gun triggers. In extreme close-up shots, smaller objects get great detail and are the focal point.

Use an ECU to emphasize a specific feature of your subject:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Extreme close Up In X Men First Class

(ECU) Extreme Close-Up Camera Shot | X-Men: First Class

Visionary filmmaker, Darren Aronofsky uses various degrees of close-ups in his work, like in his film Black Swan. In this extreme close-up, we see that her transformation happens quite literally. Aronofsky uses the extreme close up shot size to show feathers growing in Nina’s back.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - An Extreme Close Up In Black Swan

(ECU) Extreme Close-Up Example | Black Swan

Extreme close-ups can be used in many different film genres, which includes comedy as well. Here's an ECU example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - An Extreme Close up On Eyes In Little Miss Sunshine

(ECU) Extreme Close Up Example | Little Miss Sunshine

Establishing Shots

It all starts with an establishing shot

An establishing shot is a shot at the head of a scene that clearly shows us the location of the action. This shot often follows an aerial shot and is used to show where everything will happen.

Consider the following examples:

Shooting Great Establishing Shots | StudioBinder

We cover a lot of shot specs in this post, but don't worry. You don't need to memorize everything in this post. If you use StudioBinder when shot listing, all these specs are listed as checkboxes for easy selection.

This allows you to focus on creativity rather than spending effort attempting to recall shot jargon or retyping acronyms 5000 times:

Step-by-step guide to making a shot list

Subscribe for more filmmaking videos like this.

Types of Camera Shots — The Shot Size

Camera Shot Size Summary 

How you choose to frame your subject will have a specific impact. How close or far your subject is to your camera — your shot size — will underscore how the audience should feel about it (or them).

Your subject will appear smallest in a long shot (or wide shot). They will be larger in a medium shot and largest in a close-up shot.

Here is a shot list with every shot size organized from wide to near:

Every Camera Shot Size •  Shot Listed in StudioBinder

You can create a PDF of this shot list to print or store digitally. 

Think about familiarity when you consider your subject’s size in your camera shots. It’s like meeting someone for the first time. You might shake hands or talk about the weather, but odds are you’ll stay at a relative distance. That’s because you haven’t built any familiarity yet.

Shot size is the building block for choosing camera shots, but you’ll also need to consider how framing, focus and movement can add deeper meaning to your shots. Read on to explore creative shot combinations.

Specific camera movements matter too. Are you going to rack focus while completing a dolly move? Or maybe it’s just a traditional two shot on sticks? You want to capture all these details when shot listing.

2

Camera Framing

WORKING WITH SUBJECTS IN THE FRAME

Camera Shot Framing

Camera Shot Framing Overview

Camera framing is the art and science of placing subjects in your shots. Shots are all about composition. Rather than pointing the camera at the subject, you need to compose an image.

For filmmakers and videographers, a major consideration for framing is the number of subjects you feature in your shots, and their physical relationship to each other and the camera.

Here is a shot list with every shot framing

Shot Framing  •  Shot Listed in StudioBinder

Based on how you plan to position your subjects, you'll need to adjust your camerawork. You'll want to capture your framing details on a shot list well before you arrive on set. That way you have a clear idea for the scene and can communicate your vision with ease.

That's not to say that things may not change the day of the shoot. But, having a shot list at the ready showcases that the director and DP have done their homework and are well prepared.

Single Shot Example

Single Shot

When your shot captures one subject it’s known as a single shot:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Single Shot

Single Shot Example | Iron Man

Single shots can be set and framed in any shot size you like, just as long as there is only one character featured within the frame.

Now, why did I say featured rather than simply in the frame?

The reason is because you can have an over-the-shoulder single, also known as a "dirty single" that technically has more than one person in the frame, but the character in the foreground isn't featured:

A-Filmmakers-Guide-to-Michael-Bay-Armageddon-OTS-Shot-2-StudioBinder-Online-Shot-List-Software

Over-The-Shoulder Shot Example | Armageddon

Two SHOT Example

Two Shot or 2-Shot

A two-shot is a camera shot with two characters featured in the frame:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Two Shot For Two Agent Smiths

2-Shot Example | The Matrix Reloaded

Two shots are often really useful for allowing performances to play out in a single take, which can be especially useful for comedy. 

Three SHOT Example

Three Shot or 3-Shot

A three-shot features three characters in the frame:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Three Shot Of Characters In A Frame

3-Shot Example | Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Three shots are really important in adventure films, or really any film that has a group of characters, because it is an enormous time drain to shoot 3 singles just to show every character, not to mention jarring.

OTS Shot Example

Over-The-Shoulder Shot (OTS)

Another element of camera shots to consider is the perspective of the shot. An over-the-shoulder shot shows your subject from behind the shoulder of another character. Because it emulates perspective, it’s common in conversation scenes.

Over the Shoulder - Westworld - OTS Shot of Dr Ford - StudioBinder Production Management Software.jpg

(OTS) Over-The-Shoulder Shot Example | Westworld

Over-the-shoulder shots can help to provide orientation, and connect the characters on an emotional level. 

The Over The Shoulder Shot in Film (and How to Shoot a Dialogue Scene)

OVER-THE-HIP SHOT EXAMPLE

Over-The-Hip Shot (OTH)

An over-the-hip shot is similar to over-the-shoulder in that the camera is placed with a character's hip in the foreground, and the focus subject in the plane of acceptable focus. 

Here's an example of an over-the-hip shot: 

Camera Shot Guide - Over The Hip Shot - Minority Report - StudioBinder

Over-The-Hip Shot | Minority Report

You'll gain a similar effect from an over-the-hip shot as you would an OTS, but if you have one character standing, and the other sitting, kneeling, or any other configuration that places the subjects on "uneven terrain" it will often suggest a power imbalance. 

POV SHOT Example

Point of View Shot (POV)

Now let's talk about choosing camera shots that show the point-of-view (or POV) of one of your characters.

A POV shot is a camera shot that shows the viewer exactly what that character sees. This transports the audience into that character, as is done in Being John Malkovich:

Point of View Shot | Being John Malkovich

POV shots can also invoke terror, as seen in Halloween:

POV Shot Example | Halloween

A POV shot is generally sandwiched between two other shots:

  1. A camera shot of a character looking at something
  2. Cut to your (POV) point of view camera shot
  3. A camera shot showing the character's reaction

A point of view shot shows us exactly what the character sees, and we get to understand what's generating the character's reaction.

3

Camera Focus

THE VIEWER'S POINT OF ATTENTION

03


Camera Focus

THE VIEWER'S POINT OF ATTENTION

Depth of Field

Camera Shot Focus Overview

Cinema and television give the director an uncanny ability to control the audience's vision. You can shift and change points of view as people learn new information, move locations, or switch perspectives. 

Here is a shot list with every shot focus type:

Shot Focus Type  •  Shot Listed in StudioBinder

Plan focus changes on your shot list

Filmmakers often want to direct attention around different parts of the scene. To do this, you need to decide on the angle of shot, camera movements, and any special equipment needed to pull it off.

Rack Focus Example

Rack Focus vs. Focus Pull 

Manipulating focus is another way of communicating with your camera shots. The vast majority of films you watch will keep their subjects in focus 95% of the time, with the odd slip up here and there.

The first assistant cameraman (or “First AC”) will pull focus to make sure that the subject stays within the acceptable focus range while they move to various depths within the frame.

A rack focus is an emphasized focus pull, where the acceptable focus range is intentionally shifted from one subject to another. This is an aggressive use of focus as a story telling device:

The art of the rack focus

Focus Pull = Passive vs. Rack Focus = Aggressive

Now, this doesn't mean that pulling focus is easy, and in fact it is much harder to maintain focus by making micro adjustments vs setting up a rack focus on a set mark. It's just a matter of the viewer taking notice. 

Shallow DOF Example

Shallow Focus Shot

In shallow focus shots, your subject is in crisp focus while the foreground and background scenery is out of focus. This limits your depth of field to create emphasis on your subject.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Two Shot Shallow Shot Pulls You Into The Conversation In The Social Network

Two-shot + Shallow Depth of Field | The Social Network

Here's another shallow focus shot example:

Extreme Close Ups ECU The Night Of

Shallow Focus Shot | The Night Of

Large DOF Example

Deep Focus Shot

In a deep focus shot, everything in your frame is in focus. This is when you need your audience to feel the scenery or particular scene elements.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Deep Focus Shot Shows Most Of The Gang In 12 Angry Men

Deep Focus Shot | 12 Angry Men

Here's another deep focus shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Deep Focus Staging Shows Two Forces Collide In Detroit

Deep focus staging shows two forces collide in Detroit

Tilt-Shift Focus Example

Tilt-Shift Shot

A tilt-shift lens rotates perspective within the lens and emulates selective focus. It can make parts of your image appear in sharp focus while others are out of focus.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Tilt Shift Lens Captures A Trippy Bar Mitzvah From A Serious Man

A tilt-shift lens captures a trippy bar mitzvah in A Serious Man

Here's another tilt-shift shot example

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Tilt Shift Lens Creates Dreamy Distortion

A tilt-shift lens creates dreamy distortion in The Assassination of Jesse James

4

Camera Angles

ADJUSTING CAMERA HEIGHT FOR IMPACT


Camera Angles

Camera Angle Overview

It's not enough to just understand shot size. Camera angles, and degree of those angles, can totally change the meaning of a shot.

Here is a shot list with the different types of camera shot angles:

Camera Shot Angles  •  Shot Listed in StudioBinder

In this section we'll cover all the different types of camera angles in film and provide you with plenty of camera angle examples:

Eye Level Shot Example

Eye Level Shot

First, consider the most common height: the eye level shot. When your subject is at eye-level they’re in a neutral perspective (not superior or inferior). This mimics how we see people in real life -- our eye line connecting with theirs.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - An Eye Level Close Up Of Young Forrest Gump

Eye Level Shot Example | Forrest Gump

Here's another eye level shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - An Eye Level Close Up On The Mad Hatter

Eye Level Shot Example | Alice in Wonderland

Low Angle SHOT Example

Low Angle Shot

This shot frames the subject from a low camera height. These camera shots most often emphasize power dynamics between characters.

Low Angle Examples | StudioBinder

A superior character with the upper hand is often framed from down low. This makes an inferior feel like they are looking up to them.

The Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Threatening Low Angle Of Darth Vader In Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

Low Angle Shot Example | The Empire Strikes Back

High Angle Shot Example

High Angle Shot

In a high angle shot, the camera points down at your subject. It usually creates a feeling of inferiority, or “looking down” on your subject.

But, as the video below shows, there are creative expressions of this...

High Angle Shot Examples | StudioBinder

Here's an example of a high angle shot:

High Angle Shot - Camera Angles - Princess Bride High Angle

High Angle Shot Example | The Princess Bride

Hip Level Shot Example

Hip Level Shot

A hip level shot is when your camera is roughly waist-high.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - Michael Madsen Framed In A Hip Level Over The Shoulder Shot For Reservoir Dogs

Hip Level Shot Example | Reservoir Dogs

Here's another hip level shot example:

Hip-Level-Shot-Punch-Drunk-Love-StudioBinder

Hip Level Shot Example | Punk-Drunk Love

Knee Level Shot Example

Knee Level Shot

This is when your camera height is about as low as your subject’s knees. They can emphasize a character’s superiority if paired with a low angle.

Knee-Level-Shot-Home-Alone-StudioBinder

Knee Level Shot | Home Alone

Here's another knee level shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Knee Level Shot From Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith

Knee Level Shot Example | Revenge of the Sith

Ground Level Shot Example

Ground Level Shot

A ground level shot is when your camera’s height is on ground level with your subject. Needless to say, this shot captures what’s going on the ground your subject stands on.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Ground Level Close Up From Star Wars The Last Jedi

Ground Level Shot Example | Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Here's another ground level shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Ground Level Close Up In Black Swan

Ground Level Shot Example | Black Swan

Here's another ground level shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Chilling Ground Level Zoom Shot From Full Metal Jacket

Ground Level Shot Example | Full Metal Jacket

Shoulder Level Shot Example

Shoulder Level Shot

This is when your camera is roughly as high as your subject’s shoulders. Shoulder level shots are actually much more standard than an eye level shot, which can make your actor seem shorter than reality:

Three Point Lighting - Black Panther - StudioBinder

Shoulder Level Shot | Black Panther

A shoulder level shot can maximize the feeling of superiority when paired with a low angle. Here's another shoulder level shot example:

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - A Low Angle Shoulder Level Shot From No Country For Old Men

Shoulder Level Shot Example|  No Country For Old Men

Dutch Angle Example

Dutch Angle or Dutch Tilt Shot

For a dutch angle (dutch tilt), the camera is slanted to one side. With the horizon lines tilted in this way, you can create a sense of disorientation.

Dutch Angle Example | StudioBinder

Overhead Shot Example

Bird’s Eye View Shot or Overhead Shot 

An overhead shot is from way up high, looking down on your subject and a good amount of the scenery surrounding him or her. This can create a great sense of scale and movement.

A handy compilation of bird’s eye camera shots.

Here's an overhead shot example:

Aerial Shot - Camera Angles - Eternal Sunshine overhead shot

Overhead Shot Example | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Aerial Shot Example

Aerial Shot

Whether taken from a helicopter or drone, this is a shot from way up high. It establishes a large expanse of scenery. The opening shots of Blade Runner use them to establish futuristic cityscapes.

Ultimate Guide To Camera Shots - An Aerial Shot Captures Los Angeles In Blade Runner

Aerial Shot Example | Blade Runner

Affordable drones have made aerial photography more accessible to filmmakers. Once considered a big-budget luxury or stock-footage mainstay, original aerial photography is now within reach of almost any production, all thanks to the "rise" of drones (and Sky-net).

5

Camera Movement

MEANING THROUGH MOTION


Camera Moves

Camera Movement Overview

The way a camera moves can give meaning to what's happening on screen. You can burst into a room, drone over from on high, pan with a head turn, and dolly-zoom for any revelation. 

Camera moves set directors out from the pack and wind up defining their visual style. But how can you plan all these camera movements so your story stays consistent from scene to scene?  

Static Shot Example

Static Shot or Fixed Shot

When there’s no movement (i.e. locked camera aim) it’s called a static shot. These camera shots emphasize the appearance and movement of your subject against its environment, and are predominantly captured by being placed on a tripod or a dolly that remains static during the shot. 

Static shots work well in every genre, but they're nice for comedy because the actor’s performance trumps the camera moves.

Static Shot Example | Step Brothers

Dolly Shot Example

Camera Dolly Shot 

A dolly shot is where the camera is affixed to a mechanism called a dolly, which is a specialized push-cart built to handle heavy cinema cameras. A dolly will often have areas to attach seats for the camera operator and assistant camera operators to pull focus and control the camera.

Chapman Dolly UK

A dolly most commonly will be placed on tracks, and the vast majority of professional dollies have either a hydraulic or even a pneumatic head that can jib up and down during operation. 

Camera Zoom Example

Zoom Lens Shot

Zoom shots are camera shots that change the focal length of the lens during the shot. This action can be a zoom out, or a zoom in, but they are different from a push in (or dolly in) because the camera is rarely changing positions, but simply altering the focal length of the lens.

A good way to remember this is that the camera does not zoom, but rather the lens zooms. Now, your iPhone might be able to do an "digital zoom" which is actually just reducing the image quality by moving in on an already captured image which is a huge faux pas in pro filmmaking. 

Zoom Shot Examples | Quentin Tarantino.

Here's another zoom shot example:

Zoom Shot Example | The Shining

Dolly Zoom Shot Example

Dolly/Zoom Shot or Vertigo Shot

A dolly/zoom shot is where the camera position and focal length of the lens are simultaneously altered to create a warping effect. 

Dolly Zoom | StudioBinder

Camera Pan Example

Camera Pan Shot

Camera pans move the camera side to side on a horizontal axis. This can reveal something to your viewer or allow them to follow an action.

Camera Pan Example | Munich

Camera Tilt Example

Camera Tilt Shot

A camera tilt is when you move your camera up and down on a vertical axis. So it’s exactly like a pan, only vertical.

Camera Tilt Shot | The Grand Budapest Hotel

Whip Pan Example

Whip Pan Shot or Swish Pan Shot

A whip pan happens when you pan the camera from one shot to another, creating a motion blur. 

Whip Pans Examples | StudioBinder

Here's an example of a whip pan captured on set:

Behind the scenes on a whip pan setup in La La Land

Whip Tilt Shot Example

Whip Tilt Shot or Swish Tilt Shot

The swish tilt is the same idea as a swish pan, only vertical.

Wes Anderson uses the swish pans and tilts extensively in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Tracking Shot Example

Tracking Shot

A tracking shot moves with your subject. Sometimes it follows behind or beside them on a dolly, Steadicam or a gimbal.

Tracking Shots Examples | StudioBinder 

Here is one of the earliest tracking shot examples:

Tracking Shot Example | Paths of Glory

Crab Shot Example

Crab Shots

The crab shot is basically a dolly shot that moves horizontally like a crab.

Crab Shot Example | Oldboy

Arc Shot Example

Arc Shots

Arc shots are camera shots where the camera moves around the subject in an arc pattern so as to show more of the surroundings:

Arc Shot Example | The Dark Knight

6

Camera Mechanisms

UNDERSTANDING GEAR REQUIREMENTS


Camera Gear

Camera Mechanisms Overview

Camera mechanisms is a fancy way of saying camera equipment. Want your camera to glide along a slider? Pushed on a dolly? Swooping with a jib arm? Hovering with a gimbal?

Depending on the gear you use, the feeling of a shot can dramatically change. This is why you'll need to give the mechanism some thought when shot listing. Just remember, camera mechanisms don't just affect the look and feel of a shot, but also your budget, and prep time on set.

Technocranes don't come cheap. And setup time could put your set in a holding pattern if you don't schedule carefully. So choose your camera mechanisms carefully when you shot list.

Tripod Example

Sticks / Tripod Shot

Now let’s consider the different mechanisms that will dictate the movement in your camera shots. The most common mechanism is the tripod, or “sticks”, used for static shots and simple pans and tilts.

Caption goes here...

Camera Slider Example

Camera Slider Shot

A slider is a piece of equipment that “slides” your camera on a vertical or horizontal axis. It’s sort of like a dolly mounted on a tripod that creates smooth, sweeping camera moves.

Slider Shot Example

You can also use a slider with a tripod head to mimic a jib shot, but you want to be careful not to let the weight become unbalanced. 

Camera Slider into Camera Jib

Handheld Shot Example

Handheld Camera Shot

Handheld shots are held and moved by a camera operator. They aren’t stabilized and often shaky. They can add a gritty feel to a shot.

Caption goes here...

Steadicam Shot Example

Steadycam Shots

A Steadycam is a camera stabilizing device that attaches to the camera operator. It uses a counterbalancing system for smooth and stable camera moves.

Steadycam is the broad name for this camera mechanism, while the Tiffen Steadicam (with an 'i') is the model name used by Tiffen.

Think: Tissue paper vs Kleenex

Fun fact: the above is known as a proprietary eponym. So, now you're not only learning your camera shots, but also vocabulary. How fun!

Steadycam Shot | Goodfellas

3-Axis Gimbal Example

Camera Gimbal Shot

Gimbals are another camera stabilizing device that use motorized gyroscopes to reduce friction. It is more compact than a Steadicam and completely handheld. This allows it to fit through tight spaces.

Cinematic Gimbal Shots

Technocrane Example

Camera Crane Shots

A shot from a robotic crane often sweeps up and over a scene. It is a great first or final shot for a film.

Crane Shot Example

Camera Jib Example

Camera Jib Shot

A jib is a crane device that sweeps the camera up and over a setting. A jib is similar a crane, but with more limited range and movement. It's compact and utilizes counter-weights.

A jib is a cost-effective way to get an expensive-looking crane shot

Drone Shot Example

Drone Shots

These camera shots attach to a drone to fly over or alongside your subject. They're often used for aerial shots. Drones are way cheaper than helicopters and can operate in spaces helicopters can’t.

Drone Shot Example | Skyfall

Cablecam Example

Camera Wire Shots

In this shot, the camera moves on a cable or wire for deliberate, smooth moves. Like drones, wires get much closer to the action than helicopters. These are often used in live concerts and sporting events.

Wire Shot Example

Up next

How to create a professional shot list

Having knowledge of the types of shots in film, and why they’re used, is the building block to good storytelling. Each shot is a brushstroke for painting a vision. Be intentional when you select your shots.

Up next, we'll walk you through the process of shot listing like a pro. Everything from selecting camera specs, to properly estimating prep and setup times. We provide a free shot list template to get you started. 

Up Next: How to Create a Shot List like a Pro →
Solution - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows. 

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