Camera Shots

Every shot in a visual project will need to be planned out carefully during pre-production.

Mapping The Visual Journey

The camera shot (or just shot) is a continuous, uninterrupted recording with the film camera. It is the smallest unit in the filmmaking process. After the rehearsal of a scene, the plot is organized by the director into a necessary number of shots, which are successively captured with reference to staging and efficiency factors – the so-called shooting order. The scene can be filmed completely or only partially. Each camera setting is repeated until the recording is optimal. On average, the scene is then assembled from the available shots and dramatized. Depending on your needs, shots are subdivided, used in sections or even left out altogether.

Each shot is defined by an individual technical tool setup, which consists of the combination of a variety of technical parameters such as the camera's position, distance to the image object and focal length. These can be changed during a recording, for example, by a movement of the camera in the room. The depth of field and aperture can also be varied. Only in rare cases is a 360 degree shooting area prepared. Instead, only the area that is shown on camera is set up. It is the job of the DOP to compose an optimal camera shot in keeping with the nature of the direction, vision and story.

There are a variety of ways to make the camera dynamic during a recording. The camera operator or DOP can, for example, swivel from a fixed tripod or guide the camera completely in her hand and move freely around the room with a hand-held camera. A large number of technical aids have also become established in the industry. These include a dolly, a kind of height-adjustable cart that is moved on rails or rubber wheels, or a Steadicam – a technical arm fixed on the body of the Steadicam operator, which allows for very stable motion. With the help of a crane with a remote head, a camera can be flexibly moved three-dimensionally and remotely controlled at the same time. And with drones, aerial photographs from high altitude are possible at much lower costs than helicopter mounted photography.

In order to differentiate between camera shots, fixed terms for shot parameters have become established in film history. These are based on the ratio of the filmed object to the image on screen. An image that shows a person in their entirety from top to bottom is called a full shot, and a close-up ranges from the chest of a person to the top of his head. The typical setting sizes are (getting closer): Full, Medium Full, American (or Cowboy), Medium Close-Up, Close-Up and Extreme Close-Up (or Italian). If the camera concentrates on a very small section of the scene in which a figure is not the main thing depicted, this is called a detail.