Popular Filmmaking Techniques

The best filmmaking techniques combine artistic flair with good storytelling skills. Frames should look interesting, but also help the audience to understand what’s going on. Here are six film techniques it’s important to master.

1. Extreme Long Shot

Featuring the story’s characters at significant distance, extreme long shots are effective at setting up a location. They can also help to show the imposing nature of surroundings — such as skyscrapers or a forest — in relation to the characters.

2. Long Shot

This whole-body framing of the story is great for scenes with a lot of action or character interaction outdoors. It gives the sense of watching from a distance, allowing viewers to focus more on what’s going on than what the characters are feeling.

3. Medium Shot

This kind of scene is usually framed from the knees or waist. Filmmakers use it for indoors settings and conversations between characters. Medium shots convey dialogue and body movements well. To capture deeper emotions, it’s not difficult to zoom in more for a medium close up or close up.

4. Over-the-Shoulder Shot

More complex than your typical medium shot or close up, over-the-shoulder shots take some practice but pay huge dividends for storytelling. They make your audience feel like part of the scene, focusing their attention on a specific object or character.

5. Panning Shot

Panning means locking a camera’s vertical motion and only rotating it from side to side. When used tastefully, panning is an excellent tool for continuing a story and introducing additional characters in the frame.

6. Tilt Shot

A simple vertical motion, tilt shots usually start from below and move upward. This is useful for surprise reveals of facial expressions, and for giving the audience a sense of vertical scale.

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