15 Essential Camera Shots All Filmmakers Should Know
From camera angle to shot size, this video breaks down the basics of placement and orientation.
Even if you're new to filmmaking, chances are you know quite a bit about how to set up a shot. You've seen enough movies to know that shots come in different sizes and angles, that some have motion while others don't, but if you want to get your feet firmly planted on a strong cinematic foundation, you might want to check out this video. In it, Sareesh Sudhakaran of wolfcrow talks about fifteen of the most widely-used camera shots, which includes the many different kinds of angles, sizes, and camera movements.
This is composition 101. Before you start thinking about all of those cool camera moves, like whip pans, long takes, and upside-down tracking shots, you have to get familiar with the basics. Sudhakaran conveniently groups each camera shot into three different categories: camera angle, shot size, and camera movement.
- Camera angle: eye level, dutch, low angle, high angle, over the shoulder
- Shot size: close up, medium, long shot, single/two/three shot, POV
- Camera movement: 360-degree, zoom, pan/tilt, dolly/crane/, random
Now, this list is a good for beginners to get familiar with the basics of shot composition, but it's definitely not complete. For example, almost every one of these has an extreme version that communicates something different to the audience. For instance, if you've got your traditional high angle shot (that's where the camera lens "looks down" on a subject, that's going to communicate to your audience that the subject is powerless or not in control. However, if you turn the volume up on that high angle and make it a bird's eye view, it's going to communicate something else entirely.
At any rate, these fifteen shots are definitely essential to filmmaking. They're usually the first words filmmakers learn in the language of cinema, so get yourself acquainted with them. Take your camera and test them out. Practice capturing them until you know them well enough to employ them in your work. And finally, once you've become familiar with them, break the rules, experiment, and see what kinds of interesting compositions you can come up with.
If you want to get your hands on Sudhakaran's sweet camera shot chart, head on over to his Patreon page.