Cinematography: Nine Shots

Cinematography is an art form that is deep and varied. To explain it’s complexities is a task most expert cinematographers have difficulty with. It’s more like a feeling, a taste that is either right or wrong. For simplicity, I encourage students to consider 9 different shots: four field of view shots and five camera movements.

For Film306 9-Shot production assignment, each production team (four students in each group) shot a video essay that included one example of each of the nine shots described below. The projects were produced without sound to demonstrate knowledge of shot descriptions, basic visual composition rules, and use of a tripod to tell a story. Here is an example of one of those assignments, produced by Pratyush Dubey, Alanna Wildermuth, Tom Schutt, and Kaye Haley. Their task was to tell the story of two characters who want the same thing.

Field of View Shots – tripod recommended:

1.  Long – establishing shot showing the location

2.  Medium – Shows more detail; isolates objects

3.  Close-up – Detail of specific object

4.  Extreme Close Up – Isolates focus of viewer

Camera Movement Shots (use #5-9 for the 9-Shot Assignment):

5.  Pan – To turn the camera horizontally (Tripod required)

6.  Tilt – To point the camera up or down (Tripod required)

7.  Dolly – To move the camera toward or away from an object in more or less a straight line by means of a mobile camera mount. (Hand Held; ONE DIRECTION – YOUR CHOICE)

8.  Track – To move the camera laterally by means of a mobile camera mount (Hand Held; ONE DIRECTION – YOUR CHOICE)

9.  Zoom – To change the focal length of a lens through the use of a zoom control while the camera remains stationary. (Tripod required; ONE DIRECTION – YOUR CHOICE)