cinematography cameras

A Beginner’s Guide to Cinematography Techniques

When creating videos, one important priority is its cinematography. Your professional cameras will not have a huge impact if you don’t use them efficiently, effectively, and with an artistic purpose. However, cinematography is a lot more than just pointing and shooting a camera. If you want to create stunning visuals that will complement your video’s story, you will need to understand some basic cinematography techniques. With a little practice, you can use them yourself or have a clear vision when working with a video production team. This article will cover 10 basic cinematography techniques that you can utilise for your next video project.

cinematography cameras

What is Cinematography?

Cinematography is the art of photography and visual storytelling in a film, TV show, or video. It encompasses all of the visual elements that can be seen on-screen. Cinematography involves technical skills in photography, lighting, movement, and camera work.

10 Basic Cinematography Techniques

1. Long shot

A long shot or a wide shot is one of the cinematography techniques you can use if you want to focus more on the background or scenery. This shot shows the subject from top to bottom while not having them fill the full frame.

This means that the shot will still be dominated by the scenery instead of the subject. This cinematography technique is often used to set the scene and to establish the character’s place in it.

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2. Medium shot

Medium shots show the subject in more detail compared to long shots. If the subject is a person, a medium shot will typically frame them from around the waist up.

Medium shots are one of the most common cinematography techniques because it focuses on characters in a scene while still showing a bit of the environment. You can use a medium shot for group scenes that involve a lot of dialogue.

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3. Close-up shot

A close-up shot fills the frame with a part of the subject like their head or face. The range can be the entire head up to the chin or neck.

This close shot allows the emotions and the reactions of a character to be emphasised in the scene. Close-up shots make viewers feel more engaged and affected by what the character is reacting to.

With a minimal focus on the background, you will be able to establish a stronger impact emotionally with the facial expressions of the character.

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4. Bird’s eye shot

A bird’s eye shot or a top shot shows the massive scale of an area from a high angle. This shot is taken directly from overhead and from a far distance.

These shots are typically used as establishing shots of locations and as scene transitions. Using a bird’s eye shot gives the audience a wider view of an area and is also useful for showing the direction a subject is moving towards.

Bird’s eye shots are usually taken from a helicopter, crane, or even a drone.

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5. Over-the-shoulder shot

Over-the-shoulder shots are one of the most essential cinematography techniques because they help make conversational scenes between two characters as natural as possible to the viewers.

An over-the-shoulder shot where a subject is being shot from behind the shoulder of another. This shows the back or shoulder of the subject which is facing away from the camera as they interact with another character.

It emphasises the connection that two characters have while they are conversing rather than resorting to single shots which may make them look more isolated from each other.

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6. Zoom shot

A zoom shot is when you use the camera to zoom in or out on a specific subject in the frame. This gives the illusion of moving closer or further away from the subject.

You can either zoom in or zoom out as a way to increase the focus on a specific element in the frame. This can be the character, an object, or the environment.

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7. Panning shot

A panning shot is where the camera will horizontally sweep around the scene. They can be used to showcase the surroundings in an area.

Panning shots can be one of the trickier cinematography techniques because you have to make sure that the panning is smooth and accurate. A panning shot that is shaky will seem unprofessional to most viewers.

A steady pan will look natural and become almost unnoticeable so that it will not distract viewers from the narrative in the video.

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8. Tilt shot

A tilt shot is a shot which uses tilting. Tilting is when a camera stays fixed but will rotate up and down on a vertical plane.

This is similar to the movement you make when you raise or lower your head. This is similar to panning shots but this moves up and down while pans move the camera from left to right.

This can be used as an establishing shot or to slowly reveal something at the end.

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9. Tracking shot

A tracking shot is one of the cinematography techniques that will need a dolly to perform. A dolly is a wheeled cart where you can attach your camera so that it can move along a rail track.

Tracking shots are shots that move the camera throughout a scene for an extended amount of time. These shots will often follow a moving subject or character. You can track the subject by following them forward, backward, or alongside it.

A dolly is needed for these shots because it allows for a smoother and more professional movement and also makes shots look more dynamic.

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10. Crane shot

A crane shot is a shot from a camera on a moving crane. They are a high-angle camera shot which captures the entire body of the subjects on-screen.

While they used to be achieved only through expensive cranes, these shots can now be replicated with drones.

It is a type of shot that you can use to show the scale of a certain location and to also establish the amount of people that are included in the area.

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Now that you have learned all about the basic cinematography techniques that can be performed, you should start to consider creating your own video to apply these.

If you need any help in creating high-quality videos for your company, then our team at fewStones can help you out. With fewStones, you will work with experts in video production who will make sure that your video will incorporate the best cinematography techniques.

Learn more about the different cinematography techniques your video can include by taking a look at our live action video services. You can get a free instant quote on all of our video production services by clicking here.

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