Filmmaking is a platform where one tends to learn about creating a world out of ideas. Here, the world must be created in a way the audience is able to accept. The contrasting minds of the creator must reside with the different points of view of the viewers. For this, a cautious approach must be undertaken. As an amateur filmmaker, learning about camera angles and techniques is one of the most significant ways to introduce yourself into the world of filmmaking. Concepts don’t require much grammar, but creating the perfect world to place the concept into requires a lot of skills.
Previously, we have discussed in detail about camera movements and types of camera movements majorly used in filmmaking. Today, we will be talking about camera shots. Camera shots are often regarded as the most complex yet significant part of filmmaking. Camera shots are the introduction to your frame. Each frame tells a different story, and together they create the world you hope for. So, for each frame, the camera shots, as an introduction, must be as subtle and meaningful as possible. So let’s jump into today’s objective, i.e., the various kinds of camera shots.
Types of Camera Shots
There are many types of camera shots. You can always improvise on the platform of filmmaking. But, the basic shot techniques are the ones that need discussion. So, to start with, here are 10 camera shots for your reference:
Extreme Long Shot or Extreme Wide Shot
If you’ve seen movies, you’ve definitely seen extreme long shots. It’s like the core of filmmaking. You have to have a long shot or extreme wide shot. It is like an invitation to the audience and a hint of climax. In a long shot or wide shot, the filmmaker needs to place the whole subject with the entire surrounding. It helps the audience realize the relationship between the character and the environment. For example, the scenes from “Mad Max: Fury Road” use some of the extreme long shots just when the storm arrives.
Long Shot or Wide Shot
A long shot is almost as similar as an extreme long shot, but here the establishment between the subject and environment is more intense. It is actually a dream shot for both the filmmaker and the actor to work with enough movement and angles. For example, most of us remember the final shot from Fight Club, right? Here, David Fincher significantly establishes the climax by establishing a new relationship between the narrator and Marla.
Very Wide Shot
Between extreme long shots and long shots, filmmakers often use this kind of wide shot. Here, just like in extreme wide shots, the actors are merely visible. However, it has a more gripping angle to establish the subject to the audience rather than the surroundings. For example, in “Dunkirk,” the establishing shot itself was a very wide shot. We will talk about the establishing shot later. But, let’s take a look at this very wide shot that tells the audience the situation of the soldiers on the ground.
Medium Wide Shot
A medium wide shot is more of a waistline shot, mainly used in dialogue sequences. It provides an opportunity for the actor to derive a good performance through body language. Also, for the filmmaker, this kind of shot helps to focus on the ambiance as well. Medium shots can be beneficial for comical performances as well. For example, the scene from The Usual Suspects is the perfect representative of the medium-wide shot.
A medium shot is more of a wisdom shot. This kind of shot is mainly used to give the audience more details about the ambiance or surroundings. If the shot is taking place in a room, a medium shot will mainly try to establish the curiosity of the audience regarding the room. For example, in the movie Interstellar, when Cooper started going through the video recordings, he started crying. The medium shot gave us a hint of the place where Cooper was living for most of his “earth-years.”
It is not different from a medium shot, but it is extremely case-sensitive. When the subject is offering some sort of action around his or her waist area, then only this kind of medium shot, aka the cowboy shot, should be established. For example, when Wonder Woman introduced herself to the battlefield, the cowboy shot was established to portray her warrior mode.
Medium Close-Up Shot
These kinds of medium shots are often used to describe the threshold of the concerned subject. It is mostly taken from the chest-up position of the subject. For example, in “The Shawshank Redemption,” when Warden Norton looks at the whole through which Andy escaped, the director used a close-up wide medium shot. It is a section of the film that also captures the past of Andy, with a hint of his chances in the future.
This camera shot is one of the most important ones for both the actor and the filmmaker. This shot actually establishes the quality of both. In close-up, shots often act like a mirror the filmmaker puts in front of the audience to find the true essence of one’s intimate corner. The audience sees the transparency rather than the grandeur through the eyes of the subject established in the close-up shot. For example, the close-up shot of Jack Nicholson from The Shining still gives us the chills, doesn’t it?
Extreme Close-Up Shots
It is sort of an interactive shot where the director is forcing the audience to look into something too intense. In this shot, the frame can cut off most of the subject apart from the portion the director wants the audience to see. The subject can be a human or a glass of wine. The director uses extreme close-up to establish the eyes of the human or a part of the glass containing wine. Either way, the audience is driven to focus on the particular area, not the whole. For example, in Lord of the Rings, when the camera focuses on the writing on the ring, an extreme close-up shot takes place.
Right before a scene takes place; an establishing shot helps provide the idea of the scene to the audience. It is like giving the audience the whereabouts of the upcoming plot right at the beginning of the scene. Just like wide shots, establishing shots are one heck of an essential instrument to create the world where the scene takes place. Establishing shots can often be regarded as wide shots when shot at the beginning of a scene, as they basically generate the idea of what is about to happen. For example, in the Harry Potter movies, there is always an establishing shot of Hogwarts that helps the audience to understand that whatever is coming up next is magic.
So, apart from all these shots, medium shots and close-up shots exquisitely have their own improvising methods. Filmmakers often use these shots to their own benefit. All in all, the shot selection solely depends on the filmmaker. Whether the approach is all about perspectives, it is not forbidden to do trickery with the shots. Using close-ups instead of medium shots can be persuasive at times. But, as amateur filmmakers, we should always respect the possibilities of rule-breaking, if not the method itself.
See More: Camera Movement And Types Of Camera Movement, Explained