Flim camera angels, shots, focus for FTII Film and Television Institute of India 2020.
Shot, Scene and Sequence
A shot is the basic unit of a film and refers to one length of continuous (unedited) action.
While shooting, a shot is created when you turn the camera on (begin recording) and then turn it off. Often, a director will record multiple takes (attempts) of each shot in order to get one perfect take to be edited into the final film.
While editing, a shot refers to the action between two adjacent edit points.
A shot can be as short as a single frame of film (1/24th second) to many minutes long — both extremes are uncommon. Action sequences tend to use many short-duration shots to increase the sense of excitement, while dramatic scenes tend to use longer-duration shots.
The components or elements of a shot can be divided into two categories: cinematography and mis-en-scene. Cinematography is the way the shot is recorded by the camera, including such factors as lens selection, focus setting, depth-of-field, zoom, camera movements, etc. Mis-en-scene refers to everything seen or heard within the shot: the performances, lighting, the set or environment, wardrobe, etc.
Flim camera angels, shots, focus for FTII Film and Television Institute of India 2020
A scene is action that takes place at a certain place and time in the story. If a film starts with a conversation in the kitchen and then cuts to the subway, the kitchen is one scene and the subway is another. A scene can be composed of one shot or any number of shots. When shooting, a director will often record a master shot which captures the entire scene in a single shot, and then record additional shots (e.g., close-up’s, cut-ins and cut-aways) to be edited into the scene.
When a number of scenes can be considered as a unit where the action continues or progresses along each of the scenes, then it is considered a sequence.
Points of Confusion
Scene and shot are sometimes used interchangeably. This will mean that in the script, individual shots may be referred to as scenes. Production staff may refer to a single take as a shot but refer to the shot by its scene number. So don’t be too confused when production staff flip back and forth when describing a scene or a shot.
Basic Camera Shot types:
Extreme Wide Shots (EWS) act to establish the area.
Wide Shots (WS) show the entire person or area. They’re great for establishing the scene and allow for good action of the characters. Sometimes this is known as the long shot.
Medium Shots (MS) frame the subject from the waste up. This is the most common shot and allows for hand gestures and motion.
Medium Close Ups (MCU) shots show the subject in more detail and are often framed from just below the shoulders to the top of the head.
Close Ups (CU) show a particular part of your subject. For people this usually means the shot frames just the head!
Extreme Close Ups (ECU) are much tighter close-up shots in which you get detail greater than the human eye might be able to normally perceive. An example of this shot might be of the mouth and eyes together
Advanced Camera Shot Types
Two Shot: This is a shot of two peoples (or other individuals) together.
Cut Away (CA): Cutaways are used in the editing process to fill in footage which is different from the main action. B-roll is often used for cut-aways. An example might be a cut away of a bird singing if the shot is focused on a couple in the woods.
Over the Shoulder Shots (OSS) are shot from behind the person towards their subject. Generally the frame is cut off just behind the ear, although there are several variations. A good technique to use to get this shot is to frame the person facing the subject with about one third of the frame.
Point of View (POV): This is an effective shot that gives the audience the feel that you’re seeing it from the eyes of the performer. It is taken from near the eye-level of the actor and shows what he might see. It could be used to give the perspective of other animals too like a frog, a bird, or a fish.
Selective Focus: By using a large aperture value (f/1.4, f/2.0) you will be able to create a shallow depth of field. This effectively leaves one part of the frame in focus while blurring others, such as the foreground or background. When you change the focus in the shot from the foreground to the background you’re doing another advanced camera shot called a rack focus.
The relationship between the camera and the object being photographed (ie the ANGLE) gives emotional information to an audience, and guides their judgment about the character or object in shot. The more extreme the angle (ie the further away it is from eye left), the more symbolic and heavily-loaded the shot.
1. The Bird’s-Eye view
This shows a scene from directly overhead, a very unnatural and strange angle. Familiar objects viewed from this angle might seem totally unrecognisable at first (umbrellas in a crowd, dancers’ legs). This shot does, however, put the audience in a godlike position, looking down on the action. People can be made to look insignificant, ant-like, part of a wider scheme of things. Hitchcock (and his admirers, like Brian de Palma) is fond of this style of shot.
Cameraman gets a high angle shot
A cameraman, raised above the action, gets a high angle shot
2. High Angle
Not so extreme as a bird’s eye view. The camera is elevated above the action using a crane to give a general overview. High angles make the object photographed seem smaller, and less significant (or scary). The object or character often gets swallowed up by their setting – they become part of a wider picture.
3. Eye Level
A fairly neutral shot; the camera is positioned as though it is a human actually observing a scene, so that eg actors’ heads are on a level with the focus. The camera will be placed approximately five to six feet from the ground.
4. Low Angle
These increase height (useful for short actors like Tom Cruise or James McAvoy) and give a sense of speeded motion. Low angles help give a sense of confusion to a viewer, of powerlessness within the action of a scene. The background of a low angle shot will tend to be just sky or ceiling, the lack of detail about the setting adding to the disorientation of the viewer. The added height of the object may make it inspire fear and insecurity in the viewer, who is psychologically dominated by the figure on the screen.
5. Oblique/Canted Angle
Sometimes the camera is tilted (ie is not placed horizontal to floor level), to suggest imbalance, transition and instability (very popular in horror movies). This technique is used to suggest POINT-OF-View shots (ie when the camera becomes the ‘eyes’ of one particular character,seeing what they see — a hand held camera is often used for this.
Framing or Shot Length
This can be taken from as much as a quarter of a mile away, and is generally used as a scene-setting, establishing shot. It normally shows an EXTERIOR, eg the outside of a building, or a landscape, and is often used to show scenes of thrilling action eg in a war film or disaster movie. There will be very little detail visible in the shot, it’s meant to give a general impression rather than specific information.
The extreme long shot on the left is taken from a distance, but denotes a precise location – it might even connote all of the entertainment industry if used as the opening shot in a news story.
This is the most difficult to categorise precisely, but is generally one which shows the image as approximately “life” size ie corresponding to the real distance between the audience and the screen in a cinema (the figure of a man would appear as six feet tall). This category includes the FULL SHOT showing the entire human body, with the head near the top of the frame and the feet near the bottom. While the focus is on characters, plenty of background detail still emerges: we can tell the coffins on the right are in a Western-style setting, for instance.
Contains a figure from the knees/waist up and is normally used for dialogue scenes, or to show some detail of action. Variations on this include the TWO SHOT (containing two figures from the waist up) and the THREE SHOT (contains 3 figures…). NB. Any more than three figures and the shot tends to become a long shot. Background detail is minimal, probably because location has been established earlier in the scene – the audience already know where they are and now want to focus on dialogue and character interation. Another variation in this category is the OVER-THE-SHOULDER-SHOT, which positions the camera behind one figure, revealing the other figure, and part of the first figure’s back, head and shoulder.
This shows very little background, and concentrates on either a face, or a specific detail of mise en scène. Everything else is just a blur in the background. This shot magnifies the object (think of how big it looks on a cinema screen) and shows the importance of things, be it words written on paper, or the expression on someone’s face. The close-up takes us into the mind of a character. In reality, we only let people that we really trust get THAT close to our face – mothers, children and lovers, usually – so a close up of a face is a very intimate shot. A film-maker may use this to make us feel extra comfortable or extremely uncomfortable about a character, and usually uses a zoom lens in order to get the required framing.
As its name suggests, an extreme version of the close up, generally magnifying beyond what the human eye would experience in reality. An extreme close-up of a face, for instance, would show only the mouth or eyes, with no background detail whatsoever. This is a very artificial shot, and can be used for dramatic effect. The tight focus required means that extra care must be taken when setting up and lighting the shot – the slightest camera shake or error in focal length is very noticeable.