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Understanding Camera Techniques – Shot Size

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As a film director, you need to know and understand the various camera techniques that can influence and enhance the structure of your film. You don’t have to know how to work all the technical equipment on a film set, but this knowledge is crucial because it will help you to communicate more efficiently with the DOP, camera operator, sound mixer, editor etc. Remember, the more correctly you can explain a technical detail to the crew, the better chance of getting it.

The following list of camera techniques are basic concepts you should know. There are many books and articles available that explain in more detail these camera techniques, but this is a very good reference guide for you.

NOTE: Every Director and DOP will have a different version of the following examples. But if you use this list as a guide, you can’t go wrong.

Shot Size (Example: a person)

ECU – Extreme Close Up (focus on the eye)
TCU – Tight Close Up (forehead to chin)
CU – Close Up (top of head to just below the chin)
MCU – Medium Close Up (below the throat to just above the head)
MS – Medium Shot (the body from the waist up)
FS – Full Shot (full figure of a person – head to toe)
WS – Wide Shot (figure is shown in relationship to their surroundings)
LS – Long Shot (subject is shown in a small scale)
ELS – Extreme Long Shot (a great distance from the subject)
OSS – Over Shoulder Shot (over shoulder of person A to see face of person B)
POV – Point of View (shot from another person’s perspective)

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Want to Learn More Film and Television Directing Tips and Techniques? Check out Peter D. Marshall’s 2008 multi-media reference guide for filmmakers, The Art and Craft of the Director 10-Day Audio Seminar – a 162 page eBook packed full of insider film directing tips and tools supported by over 500 film making reference links, 26 mp3 audio files, 28 video links and 23 pdf special reports all designed to help you become a successful, working film and television director.

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