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Film Studies 101
THE 30 CAMERA SHOTS EVERY FILM FAN NEEDS TO KNOW
From whip pans to crash zooms and everything in between

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THE SHOT
Establishing Shot
The clue is in the name. A shot, at the head of the scene, that clearly shows the locale the action is set in. Often comes after the aerial shot. Beloved by TV directors and thick people.

THE EXAMPLE
The first glimpse of the prison in The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

THE SHOT
Handheld Shot
A shot in which the camera operator holds the camera during motion to create a jerky, immediate feel. Beloved by Steven Soderbergh and Paul Greengrass. It basically says, "This is real life, baby".

THE EXAMPLE
The pool hall fist fight in Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973).


THE SHOT
Low Angle Shot
A shot looking up at a character or subject often making them look bigger in the frame. It can make everyone look heroic and/or dominant. Also good for making cities look empty.

THE EXAMPLE
Darth Vader stomping around the Death Star corridors in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (1977).

THE SHOT
High Angle Shot
A shot looking down on a character or subject often isolating them in the frame. Nothing says Billy No Mates like a good old high angle shot.

THE EXAMPLE
Little Charlie (Teresa Wright) realizes her uncle (Joseph Cotton) is a serial killer in Hitchcock's Shadow Of A Doubt (1943).


THE SHOT
Locked-Down Shot
A shot where the camera is fixed in one position while the action continues off-screen. It says life is messy and can not be contained by a camera. Beloved by Woody Allen and the dolly grips who can take the afternoon off.

THE EXAMPLE
Ike (Woody Allen) and Mary (Diane Keaton) walk in and out of shot whilst flirting.

THE SHOT
Library Shot
A pre-existing shot of a location — typically a wild animal — that is pulled from a library. Aka a "stock shot", it says this film is old. Or cheap.

THE EXAMPLE
Every shot of an animal in a black and white Tarzan movie.


THE SHOT
Matte Shot
A shot that incorporates foreground action with a background, traditionally painted onto glass, now created in a computer. Think the Raiders warehouse or the Ewok village or Chris Hewitt's house.

THE EXAMPLE
The final shot of 1968's Planet Of The Apes.

THE SHOT
Money Shot
A shot that is expensive to shoot but deemed worth it for its potential to wow, startle and generate interest. In pornography, it means something completely different.

THE EXAMPLE
The White House blowing up in Independence Day (1996).


THE SHOT
Over-The-Shoulder Shot
A shot where the camera is positioned behind one subject's shoulder, usually during a conversation. It implies a connection between the speakers as opposed to the single shot that suggests distance.

THE EXAMPLE
The opening of The Godfather (1972).

THE SHOT
Pan
A shot where the camera moves continuously right to left or left to right. An abbreviation of "panning". Turns up a lot in car chases and on You've Been Framed (worth £250 if they use a clip).

THE EXAMPLE
Brian de Palma's Blow Out (1981) — a 360 degree pan in Jack Terry (John Travolta)'s sound studio. 

 

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Your Comments

1 Check your facts!!!
A steadicam is not hydraulically balanced you guys should really check your facts. I expect much better from Empire. A steadicam is balanced by an isoelastic arm using springs not hydraulics like you state. More

Posted by tom2201 on Wednesday February 5, 2014, 23:38

2 The Michael Bay shot II
A low shot in slight slow motion of someone standing up with the sun behind them. More

Posted by falseprophet7 on Saturday January 11, 2014, 22:23

3 Aerial Shot
We love how the Aerial Shot starts it off! More

Posted by SkyCamUsa on Thursday January 9, 2014, 18:00

4 The Leone EXTREME close-up
Has to have it's own category, the squinting eyes, the twitching facial muscles, the tension, the agendas and machinations of each protagonist writ large but only revealed to the audience... More

Posted by Moonbucket on Sunday December 29, 2013, 14:02

5
The dolly zoom in The Fellowship of the ring is one of my recent favourites. More

Posted by apensiveman on Sunday December 29, 2013, 12:34

6 The Spike Lee
What about the Spike Lee shot? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu9-UymSApM More

Posted by AishaRh on Tuesday December 24, 2013, 23:21

7 RE: @ jackmanstoletheshow
L: 2early4flapjacks From the sounds of it, the kind of shot you're meaning is a 'Split Dioptic'. It's a shot which is split down the middle, dividing two contrasting levels of focus on either sides of the screen - one side for foreground, one side for background. The dividing line down the middle is usually aligned with a vertical line in the frame (i.e. a dooreframe etc.) in an attempt to conceal the contrast in focus. This trick allows the camera to show something extremely close on one side of the shot (often a face) and something far in the distance on the other, both in perfect focus. It's kind of synonymous with gritty suspense genre films from the 70s, 80s, (it was favoured by directors like Brian De Palma - probably because of the surreal, dislocated quality it lends the frame) as opposed to deep focus in which the whole frame is shown in perfect focus completely seamlessly. The latter tends to be seen as more classy and oft assosiated with films like Citizen KaMore

Posted by jackmanstoletheshow on Sunday December 22, 2013, 19:32

8
The scene in Goodfellas where Henry leads his girlfriend through the back way of the club was indeed filmed on a Steadicam but the shot is a Sequence Shot (which used to be called a Continuous Shot or a "One-er"). More

Posted by djdarrenjames on Friday December 20, 2013, 04:50

9 @ jackmanstoletheshow
From the sounds of it, the kind of shot you're meaning is a 'Split Dioptic'. It's a shot which is split down the middle, dividing two contrasting levels of focus on either sides of the screen - one side for foreground, one side for background. The dividing line down the middle is usually aligned with a vertical line in the frame (i.e. a dooreframe etc.) in an attempt to conceal the contrast in focus. This trick allows the camera to show something extremely close on one side of the shot (often a face) and something far in the distance on the other, both in perfect focus. It's kind of synonymous with gritty suspense genre films from the 70s, 80s, (it was favoured by directors like Brian De Palma - probably because of the surreal, dislocated quality it lends the frame) as opposed to deep focus in which the whole frame is shown in perfect focus completely seamlessly. The latter tends to be seen as more classy and oft assosiated with films like Citizen Kane, but I really love Dioptic shMore

Posted by 2early4flapjacks on Friday December 20, 2013, 02:18

10
Enjoyable read, but there's a shot missing, I think. Don't know its name, frustratingly, but examples are Bruno taking a phone call at home while his parents talk in Strangers on a Train, and Nolte saying 'Do that again' to Lange in the Cape Fear remake. Suppose it could be deep focus, but it's just background and foreground. More

Posted by jackmanstoletheshow on Thursday December 19, 2013, 23:23

11 But you forgot...
..The Mariachi Tracker... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5yTmVxRN2g More

Posted by CHEWIEHAN1 on Thursday December 19, 2013, 14:56

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