6 Essential Camera Shots

Though there are several technique videographers use to create meaning, depth and perspective such as the Key Burns effect and motion blur, the most essential also happen to be the most basic. There are six basic camera shots, which are also commonly referred to as "camera angles," you should learn to enhance the quality of your films.


The close-up shot focuses on an area of a subjects face from just above the neck or chin and just beneath the top of the head. The purpose of the close-up shot is to emphasize a subjects emotions or reactions without any help from the surrounding environment.

Medium Close-Up

The medium close-up shot frames the character from the chest up. This shot allows the audience to get a good view of both the character's facial expressions and hand gestures. The goal is to give viewers insight into the character's emotions without getting too personal.

Extreme Close-Up

Filmmakers rarely use this shot for characters but rather, they use it to place an emphasis on particular objects or elements. Directors may use this technique to foreshadow coming events by drawing attention to an element the characters have yet to notice.

Wide Shot

The wide shot, or long shot, helps filmmakers establish the environment in which a scene is about to take place. It also allow producers to show where a character is in a setting in relation to another place of import.

Medium Wide Shot

A medium wide shot also helps establish an environment but is more commonly used to show several characters from the waste up. This shot may be used to establish the relationship between a group of people.

Medium Shot

The medium shot is similar to a medium wide shot in that it shows individuals from the waist up. However, a medium shot is used to introduce characters more than it is to introduce an environment, which is why the environment is more of a background element in these shots.

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