The 6 Essential Ways To Frame A Shot

By Kevin Graham

Whether you’re writing out a script or communicating with a client, it always helps to speak the “language” of filmmaking.

Some of the most useful filmmaking jargon relates to the focal distance (or how to frame) of a shot. So today, we’re going to list the 6 most common terms.

Extreme Wide Shot

This type of shot is exactly what it sounds like: far away from the subject, or sometimes even without any subject.

Extreme wide shots are typically used as establishing shots to give context, or as introspective shots detailing a subject’s relationship with a setting.

Wide Shot

In a wide shot, the subject’s entire body is visible, although it typically does not fill the frame.

While the subject is a bit more prominent, these shots can generally be used interchangeably with extreme wide shots, depending on the location.

Most aerials can be classified as wide or extreme wide shots.

Medium Shot

There is a lot of variation in what is considered a medium shot, but generally, this will be anything from a subject filling the frame head-to-toe, to a subject being framed from the waist up.

Medium shots are the most common type of shot in films, and generally focus on a subject’s movement, surroundings, or action, rather than dialogue or their mood.

Medium Close Up

This shot will usually frame a subject from the chest or shoulder up.

Medium close ups are by far the most common shots in dialogue scenes, or any other instances of interaction between multiple subjects. This is where a character’s emotional state starts to become an intentional focus of the framing.

Close Up

In a close up, a part of the subject fills the entire frame (usually their face).

This framing is ideal for introspective shots, monologues, and some dialogue scenes.

Many close ups have little to no camera movement.

Extreme Close Up

Again, this type of shot is just what it sounds like: a very tight focus on a part of the subject, such as their eyes, mouth, or hands.

Extreme close ups are used for effect, and can feel heartwarming, powerful, or even creepy depending on their context. Props or elements of the setting can also be shown.

Searching by Focal Length On Filmpac

On Filmpac, you can hone in on the right shot by using the “framing” filter under the “cinematography” tab. This allows you to view only shots that match the framing criteria you selected, which can be a huge timesaver in your edit.

Of course, there are a million variations to these shots, and you may often find yourself between two of them. But knowing this basic, industry-standard lingo will help you communicate with your clients and your crew.

Kevin is the Music Director at Filmpac.

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