Getting the Shot Knowing Your Camera Angles

Most memories of home movies likely feature an amateur cameraman seeking to mimic video production techniques seen in big budget movies, or perhaps smaller documentaries. Action is captured from afar with occasional if jarring zooms toward a particular point of action.

Professional video production companies know better, and they do better as a result. Whether working on a promotional video, or a professionally produced event recap, these companies have a masterful command of the shots it takes to make action compelling and easy to follow. Here, we’ll demystify a few of their most common techniques so you can talk the talk when meeting and getting to know your videographers.

Wide Shot

The wide shot is likely the closest to the memories you have of home movies. Designed to show the full landscape, or close to it, video production professionals use it to create context and show the audience the “field of play” where the action will be happening. For event video, this could be the full ballroom or venue; promotional videos will seek to show the factory or place of retail. It is a useful tool for introducing audiences to the location for future action.

Medium Shot

As the name might imply, this shot is done from a middling range, typically from the waist up when shooting people. Some of the background is still visible, but context is removed. Promotional videos might use this shot to introduce customers or actors in the scenario being filmed; event videos might use the medium shot for a group testimonial to simultaneously show the reactions of several people.

Close-Up Shot

The close-up tightly frames a person or an object, while allowing it to be recognizable. It’s often used by production companies to closely follow action. In event videography, you might see a close-up shot as a cake is being cut, candles are being blown out, or speeches are being given. Promotional videos may utilize close-ups to share individual testimonials or to capture a customer’s reaction to a process or an action.

Extreme Close-Up

The most intimate of the shots, extreme close-ups are designed to capture a portion of a subject, such as a leaf on a plant or the eyes of a human subject. Video production professionals use these shots sparingly, as they are dramatic and can be difficult to look at for long periods. However, they are perfect for promotional videos when showing a process being performed (think of a craftsman working on a detailed product), or at events to show subtle reactions to events in the room (eyes beginning to glisten with tears).

BONUS: Cutaway

More a shooting technique and less a range of a shot, video production professionals may shoot a great deal of footage from a number of angles, to ensure that the final edit can have multiple perspectives represented. You’d want to see a couple cut a cake at an anniversary party, as well as the audience’s clapping and shouting in response, or a spokesperson surprising a customer at her home, as well as her shocked reaction to the knock at the door. These shots may occasionally require production companies to recreate scenarios to ensure they “get the shot,” but are well worth the time and energy when your video comes back to you, dynamic and professional-looking.

Now that you know a bit of the lingo that helps your video production company do the arduous work of making your movie, you’ll have an idea of how to be a responsive, cooperative, and easy-to-work-with client. We look forward to working with you to create video miles away from the grainy, hard-to-watch “productions” of your past!