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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
POV shot
A shot that depicts the point of view of a character so that we see exactly what they see. Often used in Horror cinema to see the world through a killer's eyes.

THE EXAMPLE
The opening of Halloween (1978) told from the point of view of the child Michael Myers (Will Sandin).

THE SHOT
The Sequence Shot
A long shot that covers a scene in its entirety in one continuous sweep without editing.

THE EXAMPLE
The 3 min 20 secs opening of Touch Of Evil (1958) in which Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) and Susie (Janet Leigh) cross paths with a car carrying a ticking bomb.


THE SHOT
Steadicam Shot
A shot from a hydraulically balanced camera that allows for a smooth, fluid movement. Around since the late '70s, invented by Garrett Brown. Beloved by Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron. A lengthy Steadicam shot is the directorial equivalent of "Look ma, no hands!"

THE EXAMPLE
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) taking his new girl (Lorraine Braco) through the Copa by the back entrance in Goodfellas (1990). If you have the time, also see Russian Ark, a 99 minute Steadicam shot.

THE SHOT
Tilt
A shot where the camera moves continuously Up to Down or Down To Up. A vertical panning shot. A tilt to the sky is traditionally a last shot in a movie.

THE EXAMPLE
The last shot of Robert Altman's Nashville (1975).


THE SHOT
Top Shot
A shot looking directly down on a scene rather than at an angle. Also known as a Birds-Eye-View shot. Beloved by Busby Berkeley to shoot dance numbers in patterns resembling snowflakes.

THE EXAMPLE
The camera moving over the carnage left by Travis Bickle at the end of Taxi Driver (1976).

THE SHOT
Tracking Shot
A shot that follows a subject be it from behind or alongside or in front of the subject. Not as clumsy or random as a panning shot, an elegant shot for a more civilized age. Beloved by Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Terence Davies, Paul Thomas Anderson.

THE EXAMPLE
The dolly shots in the trenches during Stanley Kubrick's Paths Of Glory (1957).


THE SHOT
Two-Shot
A medium shot that depicts two people in the frame. Used primarily when you want to establish links between characters or people who are beside rather than facing each other.

THE EXAMPLE
Quiz Kid Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) and Thurston Howell (Henry Gibson) discuss love in Magnolia (1999).

THE SHOT
Whip Pan
A shot that is the same as a pan but is so fast that picture blurs beyond recognition. Usually accompanied by a whoosh sound. Beloved by Sam Raimi and Edgar Wright.

THE EXAMPLE
Any one of a dozen sequences in Hot Fuzz (2007).


THE SHOT
Zoom
A shot deploying a lens with a variable focal length that allows the cinematographer to change the distance between camera and object without physically moving the camera. Also see Crash Zooms that do the same but only quicker.

THE EXAMPLE
The slow descending zoom that picks out Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams) out of a crowd in The Conversation (1974).

THE SHOT
Crane Shot
A shot where the camera is placed on a crane or jib and moved up or down. Think a vertical tracking shot. Beloved by directors of musicals. Often used to highlight a character's loneliness or at the end of a movie, the camera moving away as if saying goodbye.

THE EXAMPLE
Gone With The Wind (1939). As Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) arrives at the train depot, the camera heads skyward to reveal hundreds of wounded confederate soldiers around her.

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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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