Thursday, December 17, 2009

Framing Your Shots One Step At A Time: The Basics

Here's a quick lesson in framing the shot. I've set up an example that's labeled for you to understand more.

This will be very helpful to you when you're trying to explain to your cinematographer what you have in your mind for the next shot.


Master Shot: This shot sets up your entire scene. It's usually the widest shot as well, all the action can be seen in this set up when you cut to it. this allows maximum coverage of the entire scene. Keep this in mind to start and possibly close your scenes. It's a good idea to shoot this set up first then get in closer.

Full Shot: This is still a wide shot but not as wide as the master. This is a full body shot. Multiple actors can be in the same frame. I would be mindful of making sure the frame isn't too cluttered.

Medium Full: This is also a medium full shot. It tends to cut off the frame around the point of the actor's knees. This works if you feel you want to get closer in but not too close.

Medium Shot / Close-Up: The medium shot is usually around the hip and the medium close up is within the mid-chest region of the actor. I personally like medium close-ups a lot. They look nice when framed correctly. This can make conversation more personal within a scene because the viewer begins to feel like they're apart of the action.

Close-Up: This would be like a full shot of the actor's face. It works for tense moments to really heighten the drama.

Extreme Close-Up: This would be like a close up that just included the actor's eyes, for example. Or if you cut to a shot of their watch.


These are the basics of framing. It's good to know so the communication process with your cinematographer is more clear with what you want.

What you'll usually need in almost any scene is your master shot, medium shots and close-ups / medium close-ups.

This is one of the many fun parts about making films. Be clever with how you frame your shot, experiment a little bit. Get what you need then start to think outside the box a little bit.

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