Key Terms:

  • Distance - The physical distance of the subject from the camera and level of zoom used. For example, long shot vs. close-up.
  • Movement - How the camera is moving while filming. For example, panning from left to right in a wide shot in order to show a landscape.
  • Judicious Reveal or Full Reveal – A judicious reveal takes place when the shot only shows enough of the content in the scene to start building viewer interest. As the shot increases, it will transition into a full reveal of the scene. This technique is used to build suspense for the audience, resulting in a larger impact when the full reveal is achieved.
  • Moving Discovery Shots – This is when the camera moves slowly towards the action within a scene until the action is clear and in the shot.
  • Fixed discovery shots - The action is not the center of focus in the shot. The camera is still, but captures actions in the background of the shot, revealing more information about the scene. For example, imagine a scene where an actor is being filmed having coffee with a friend. They sit having their scripted conversation while other characters begin to steal the focus with an argument in the background.
  • Change of Focus - Intentionally starting a shot blurry, then clearing it up, or vice-versa. This could be used as a transition for the shot. This method can also be used by blurring the focus of certain objects in the frame while drawing attention to another object or character. Changing the focus can be used to communicate uncertainty with blur, or certainty with clarity.

Wide Shot

In this shot, the parameter of the frame spans widely, showing more content than just the subject of the shot. Wide shots are good establishing shots.

Wide shot example

Full Shot/ Long Shot

This type of shot captures the entire subject in the frame, beginning at the head and ending with the feet. This places the audience as an equal with the character, giving a more inclusive feel to the viewer.

 Full shot or long shot example

Medium Shot

A medium shot frames the character from their waist to the top of their head. This is a technique is typically used for conversations.

Medium shot example


This is a very close shot where the frame only shows the character’s face. This is used often for interviews and one-sided perspectives of conversation.

Close up example

Extreme close-up

This close-up focuses very close on a subject’s face. This is used to draw audience attention to little details, such as emotion. By focusing this tightly the audience is better able to interpret the emotion or intensity of the scene.

Extreme close up example

High Angle Shot

This type of shot focuses the camera down towards the subject – typically from a high vantage point. This shot is used to demonstrate the inferior or vulnerable position of the character to the audience.

High angle shot example

Low Angle Shot

A low angle shot has the opposite purpose of the high angle shot. Shot from below the subject, this type of shot is used to demonstrate the subject’s power or triumph.

Low angle show example

Low Angle Over-the-Shoulder Shot

An over-the-shoulder shot focuses over the subject’s shoulder. It is low-angled and faces downward on to whatever the subject is focusing on. This type of shot brings attention to what the subject is looking at, as well as the subject’s vulnerability or tension.

Low angle over shoulder shot example

Tilted/Dutch Angle Shot

A tilted or “Dutch” angled shot is when the horizon is uneven. This portrays that something might be physically or psychologically off center or uneasy.

Tilted or dutch angle shot

This webpage was last updated: 07/09/2013


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