should be avoided unless panning is needed to show
more of the setting or to help increase audience interest
in the film. An extreme long shot can be used to give the
audience an overall view of the setting before the main
action is introduced The use of an ELS is an effective
way to capture audience interest from the start. Extreme
long shots should normally be taken from a high vantage
point, such as from a tall building, a hilltop, or an
aircraft. Extreme long shots are used primarily in films
and are seldom used in video productions.
A long shot (LS) shows the entire scene area where
the action is to take place. The setting, the actors, and
the props are shown with an LS to acquaint the audience
with their overall appearance and location within the
scene. An LS is used to establish all elements within the
scene so the audience knows who and what is involved
and where they are located An LS, therefore, tells
where. It establishes where the action is taking place.
The subject's entrances, exits, and movements
within a scene should normally be shown with an LS
when their locations in the scene are significant.
Following actors from location to location within a
scene area with closeup shots confuses the viewer about
the location of the subject within the scene.
The composition for an LS is usually loose, giving
room for the subject to move about. While this may
make identification of actors somewhat difficult, an LS
is usually short and the subjects will be identifiable in
A medium shot (MS) is usually used between a long
shot and a closeup shot. After the scene location has been
established with an LS, the camera is moved closer to
the main subject or a longer focal-length lens is used to
bring the main element of the scene into full frame or
near full-frame size. A medium shot tends to narrow the
center of interest for the audience and answers the
In an MS, actors are usually photographed to show
them from the waist up. An MS is normally sufficient to
show clearly the facial expressions, gestures, or
movements of a single actor or a small group of actors.
With an MS, movement of the subject can be
followed with a pan or other camera movement while
still showing enough of the surroundings so the audience
does not become disoriented. Motion-media coverage
should normally progress from a long shot, to a medium
shot, to a close-up, then back to a medium shot. This
reestablishes the scene location or the actors within the
The closeup shot (CU) fills a frame with the most
important part of a scene. The CU should include only
action of primary interest The portion selected of an
overall scene, such as a face, a small object, or a small
part of the action, may be filmed with a closeup shot.
Close-ups give the audience a detailed view of the most
important part or action within a scene. Close-ups also
help to build audience interest in the film. The CU shot
can be used to move the audience into the scene,
eliminate nonessentials, or isolate a significant incident.
As a motion-media cameraperson, one of the
strongest storytelling devices you have are close-ups.
Closeup shots should be reserved for important parts of
the story so they deliver impact to the audience.
Extreme Closeup Shots
Very small objects or areas or small portions of large
objects can be photographed with an extreme closeup
shot (ECU), so their images are magnified on the screen.
Small machine parts, such as calibrations on a ruler or
a match at the end of a cigarette, can be very effective
when shown on a full screen in an ECU.
Do not forget, you must change camera angles
between shots within a shot sequence.
Motion media should present an event in a
continuous, smooth, logical and coherent manner. When
this goal is reached, the film has good continuity.
Continuity plays a major role in the success or failure of
a project. Without good continuity, a motion video
would be nothing more than a jumbled mass of unrelated
still-pictures. On the other hand, good continuity in a
film encourages the audience to become absorbed in the
film. Continuity then is the smooth flow of action or
events from one shot or sequence to the next. Continuity
is the correlation of details such as props, lighting, sound
level, image placement, and direction of movement
across the screen between successive shots of the same
piece of action.
The shooting of all motion media should be based
on a shooting plan. This plan may be as simple as a few
scribbled notes, or it can be an elaborate script. The
better the shooting plan, the better your chances of
success in achieving good continuity. Another way you
can learn to create good continuity is to watch and