Cinematic techniques

Basic Definitions of Terms

Aerial Shot:
A shot taken from a crane, plane, or helicopter. Not necessarily a moving shot.

The main source of light is behind the subject, silhouetting it, and directed toward the camera.

Bridging Shot:
A shot used to cover a jump in time or place or other discontinuity. Examples are
falling calendar pages,
railroad wheels,
newspaper headlines,
and seasonal changes

Camera Angle:
The angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject:

The splicing of 2 shots together. this cut is made by the film editor at the editing stage of a film. Between sequences the cut marks a rapid transition between one time and space and another, but depending on the nature of the cut it will have different meanings.

Literally, cutting between different sets of action that can be occurring simultaneously or at different times, (this term is used synonymously but somewhat incorrectly with parallel editing.) Cross-cutting is used to build suspense, or to show the relationship between the different sets of action.

Jump cut:
Cut where there is no match between the 2 spliced shots. Within a sequence, or more particularly a scene, jump cuts give the effect of bad editing. The opposite of a match cut, the jump cut is an abrupt cut between 2 shots that calls attention to itself because it does not match the shots seamlessly. It marks a transition in time and space but is called a jump cut because it jars the sensibilities; it makes the spectator jump and wonder where the narrative has got to. Jean-Luc Godard is undoubtedly one of the best exponents of this use of the jump cut.

Continuity cuts:
These are cuts that take us seamlessly and logically from one sequence or scene to another. This is an unobtrusive cut that serves to move the narrative along.

Match cut:
The exact opposite of a jump cut within a scene. These cuts make sure that there is a spatial-visual logic between the differently positioned shots within a scene. thus, where the camera moves to, and the angle of the camera, makes visual sense to the spectator. Eyeline matching is part of the same visual logic: the first shot shows a character looking at something off-screen, the second shot shows what is being looked at. Match cuts then are also part of the seamlessness, the reality effect, so much favoured by Hollywood.

Deep focus:
A technique in which objects very near the camera as well as those far away are in focus at the same time.

The denotative material of film narrative, it includes, according to Christian Metz, not only the narration itself, but also the fictional space and time dimension implied by the narrative.

These terms are used inter-changeably to refer to a transition between 2 sequences or scenes. generally associated with earlier cinema but still used on occasion. In a dissolve a first image gradually dissolves or fades out and is replaced by another which fades in over it. This type of transition, which is known also as a soft transition (as opposed to the cut), suggests a longer passage of time than a cut.

A set of wheels and a platform upon which the camera can be mounted to give it mobility. Dolly shot is a shot taken from a moving dolly. Almost synonymous in general usage with tracking shot or follow shot

Editing refers literally to how shots are put together to make up a film. Traditionally a film is made up of sequences or in some cases, as with avant-garde or art cinema, or again, of successive shots that are assembled in what is known as collision editing, or montage.

A term that refers to periods of time that have been left out of the narrative. The ellipsis is marked by an editing transitions which, while it leaves out a section of the action, none the less signifies that something has been elided. Thus, the fade or dissolve could indicate a passage of time, a wipe, a change of scene and so on. A jump cut transports the spectator from one action and time to another, giving the impression of rapid action or of disorientation if it is not matched.

Eye-line matching:
A term used to point to the continuity editing practice ensuring the logic of the look or gaze. In other words, eyeline matching is based on the belief in mainstream cinema that when a character looks into off-screen space the spectator expects to see what he or she is looking at. Thus there will be a cut to show what is being looked at: object, view, another character, etc. Eyeline then refers to the trajectory of the looking eye.
The eyeline match creates order and meaning in cinematic space. Thus, for example, character A will look off-screen at character B. Cut to character B, who-if she or he is in the same room and engaged in an exchange either of glances or words with character A-will return that look and so 'certify' that character A is indeed in the space from which we first saw her or him look. This "stabilising" is true in the other primary use of the eyeline match which is the shot/reverse angle shot, also known as the reverse angle shot, commonly used in close-up dialogue scenes. The camera adopts the eyeline trajectory of the interlocutor looking at the other person as she or he speaks, then switches to the other person's position and does the same.

Extreme Long Shot:
A panoramic view of an exterior location photographed from a considerable distance, often as far as a quarter-mile away. May also serve as the establishing shot

Fade in:
A punctuation device. The screen is black at the beginning; gradually the image appears, brightening to full strength. The opposite happens in the fade out

Fill light:
An auxiliary light, usually from the side of the subject that can soften shadows and illuminate areas not covered by the key light

A scene or sequence (sometime an entire film), that is inserted into a scene in "present" time and that deals with the past. The flashback is the past tense of the film.

On the model of the flashback, scenes or shots of future time; the future tense of the film.

The sharpness of the image. A range of distances from the camera will be acceptably sharp. Possible to have deep focus, shallow focus.
Focus in, focus out: a punctuation device whereby the image gradually comes into focus or goes out of focus.

Follow shot:
A tracking shot or zoom which follows the subject as it moves.

The way in which subjects and objects are framed within a shot produces specific readings. Size and volume within the frame speak as much as dialogue. So too do camera angles. Thus, for example, a high-angle extreme long shot of two men walking away in the distance, (as in the end of Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion, 1937) points to their vulnerability - they are about to disappear, possibly die. Low angle shots in medium close-up on a person can point to their power, but it can also point to ridicule because of the distortion factor.

This term refers to the exchange of looks that takes place in cinema but it was not until the 1970s that it was written about and theorised. In the early 1970s, first French and then British and American film theorists began applying psychoanalysis to film in an attempt to discuss the spectator/screen relationship as well as the textual relationships within the film. Drawing in particular on Freud's theory of libido drives and Lacan's theory of the mirror stage, they sought to explain how cinema works at the level of the unconscious. Indeed, they maintained that the processes of the cinema mimics the workings of the unconscious. The spectator sits in a darkened room, desiring to look at the screen and deriving visual pleasure from what he or she sees. Part of that pleasure is also derived from the narcissistic identification she or he feels with the person on the screen. But there is more; the spectator also has the illusion of controlling that image. First, because the Renaissance perspective which the cinematic image provides ensures that the spectator is subject of the gaze; and second, given that the projector is positioned behind the spectator's head, this means that the it is as if those images are the spectator's own imaginings on screen.
Feminists took up this concept of the gaze and submitted it to more rigorous analysis. Laura Mulvey's vital and deliberately-polemical article, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) started the debate by demonstrating the domination of the male gaze, within and without the screen, at the expense of the woman's; so much so that the female spectator had little to do, gaze upon or identify with. The exchange or relay of looks, (as it is also known) within film reproduces the voyeuristic pleasure of the cinematic apparatus but only for the male. In fact, given that woman is normally, both within the film and on screen, the prime object that is being looked at, (and thus controlled) much feminist film theory has argued that the gaze is male through and through. It has thus been held that by attempting to expose how woman is constructed cinematiclly as an object of the male gaze, it is possible to deconstruct the normalising or naturalising process of patriarchal (male) socialisation.

Iris In/Iris Out:
An old technique of punctuation that utilises a diaphragm in front of the lens, which is opened (iris in) or closed (iris out) to begin or end a scene. The iris can also be used to focus attention on a detail of the scene.

Key Light:
The main light on a subject. Usually placed at a 45 degree angle to the camera-subject axis. In high key lighting, the key light provides all or most of the light in the scene. In low key lighting, the key light provides much less of the total illumination.

Master Shot:
A long take of an entire scene, generally a relatively long shot that facilitates the assembly of component closer shots and details. The editor can always fall back on the master shot: consequently, it is also called a cover shot.

Medium Shot:
A shot intermediate between a close-up and a full shot.

Simply, editing. More particularly: Eisenstein's idea that adjacent shots should relate to each other in such a way that A and B combine to produce another meaning, C, which is not actually recorded on the film.

Mise-en Scene:
The term usually used to denote that part of the cinematic process that takes place on the set, as opposed to editing, which takes place afterwards. Literally, the "putting-in-the-scene"
  • the direction of actors
  • placement of cameras
  • choice of lenses etc

(abbreviation of panorama) Movement of the camera from left to right or right to left around the imaginary vertical axis that runs through the camera. A panning shot is sometimes confused with a tracking shot.

Point of view shot:
(Often abbreviated as 'pov'). A shot which shows the scene from the specific point of view of one of the characters.

Pull back shot:
A tracking shot or zoom that moves back from the subject to reveal the context of the scene.

Rack focusing:
A technique that uses shallow focus (shallow depth of field) to direct the attention of the viewer forcibly from one subject to another. Focus is "pulled", or changed, to shift the focus plane, often rapidly, sometimes several times within the shot.

Reverse angle:
A shot from the opposite side of a subject. In a dialogue scene, a shot of the second participant.

A complete unit of film narration. A series of shots (or a single shot) that takes place in a single location and that deals with a single action. Sometimes used interchangeably with sequence.

In terms of camera distance with respect to the object within the shot, there are basically 7 types of shots;
  • extreme close-up
  • close-up
  • medium close-up
  • medium shot
  • medium long shot
  • long shot
  • extreme long shot or distance shot

In addition, the terms one-, two-, and three-shots are used to describe shots framing one, two, or three people - usually in medium close-ups or medium shots

Close-up/extreme close-up (CU/ECU)

The subject framed by the camera fills the screen. Connotation can be of intimacy, of having access to the mind or thought processes (including the subconscious) of the character. These shots can be used to stress the importance of a particular character at a particular moment in a film or place her or him as central to the narrative by singling out the character in CU at the beginning of the film. It can signify the star exclusively (as in many Hollywood productions of the 1930s and 1940s). CUs can also be used on objects and parts of the body other than the face. In this instance they can designate imminent action (a hand picking up a knife, for example), and thereby create suspense. Or they can signify that an object will have an important role to play in the development of the narrative. Often these shots have a symbolic value, usually due to their recurrence during the film. How and where they recur is revealing not only of their importance but also of the direction or meaning of the narrative.

Medium close-up (MCU):
Close-up of one or two (sometimes three) characters, generally framing the shoulders or chest and the head. The term can also be used when the camera frames the character(s) from the waist up (or down), provided the character is right to the forefront and fills the frame, (otherwise this type of of shot is a medium shot). An MCU of two or three characters can indicate

  • a coming together
  • an intimacy
  • a certain solidarity.
Conversely, if there is a series of two and one shots, these MCUs would suggest a complicity between two people against a third who is visually separate in another shot.

Medium shot (MS):
Generally speaking, this shot frames a character from the waist, hips or knees up (or down). The camera is sufficiently distanced from the body for the character to be seen in relation to her or his surroundings (in an apartment, for example).

Typically, characters will occupy half to two-thirds of the frame. This shot is very commonly used in indoor sequences allowing for a visual signification of relationships between characters. Compare a two-shot MS and a series of separate one-shots in MS of two people. The former suggests intimacy, the latter distance. The former shot could change in meaning to one of distance, however, if the two characters were separated by an object (a pillar, table or telephone, for example). Visually this shot is more complex, more open in terms of its readability than the preceding ones. The characters can be observed in relation to different planes, background middle ground and foreground, and it is the inter-relatedness of these planes which also serves to produce a meaning.

Medium long shot (MLS):
Halfway between a long and a medium shot. If this shot frames a character then the whole body will be in view towards the middle ground of the shot. A quite open shot in terms of readability, showing considerably more of the surroundings in relation to the character(s).

Long shot (LS):
Subject or characters are at some distance from the camera; they are seen in full within their surrounding environment.

Extreme long shot (ELS):
The subject or characters are very much to the background of the shot. Surroundings now have as much if not more importance, especially if the shot is in high-angle. A first way to consider these shots is to say that a shot lends itself to a greater or lesser readability dependent on its type or length. As the camera moves further away from the main subject (whether person or object) the visual field lends itself to an increasingly more complex reading - in terms of the relationship between the main subject and the decor there is more for the spectator's eye to read or decode. This means that the closer up the shot, the more the spectator's eye is directed by the camera to the specified reading.
Shots, in and of themselves, can have a subjective or objective value: the closer the shot, the more subjective its value, the more the meaning is inscribed from within the shot; conversely, the longer the distance of the shot the more objective its value, the greater the participation of the spectator or reader in the inscription of meaning. other factors influence the readability of a shot. A high or low camera angle can de-naturalise a shot or reinforce its symbolic value. Take, for example, an ELS that is shot at a high angle. This automatically suggests the presence of someone looking, thus the shot is implicitly a point of view shot.In this way some of the objective value or openness of that shot, (which it would retain if angled horizontally at 90 degrees) is taken away, the shot is no longer 'naturally' objective. The shot is still open to a greater reading than a CUC, however; although the angle imposes a preferred reading (someone is looking down from on high). In terms of illustrating what is meant by reinforcing symbolic value, the contrastive examples of a low- and high-angle CU can serve here. The former type of shot will distort the object within the frame, rendering it uglier, more menacing, more derisory; conversely, when a high-angle CU is used, the object can appear more vulnerable, desirable.

Subjective camera:
The camera is used in such a way as to suggest the point of view of a particular character.

  • High- or low-angle shots indicate where she or he is looking from
  • a panoramic or panning shot suggests she or he is surveying the scene
  • a tracking shot or a hand-held camera shot signifies the character on motion.

Subjective shots like these also implicate the spectator into the narrative in that she or he identifies with the point of view.

Story board:
A series of drawings and captions (sometimes resembling a comic strip) that shows the planned shot divisions and camera movements of the film.

One version of a shot. A film-maker shoots one or more takes of each shot or set-up. Only one of each group of takes appears in the final film.

Tilt shot:
The camera tilts up or down, rotating around the axis that runs from left to right through the camera head.

Tracking shot/travelling shot/dollying shot:
Terms used for a shot when the camera is being moved by means of wheels:
On a dolly (a low tracking shot), in a car or even a train. The movement is normally quite fluid (except perhaps in some of the wider car chases) and the tracking can be either fast or slow. Depending on the speed, this shot has different connotations, eg: like a dream or trance if excessively slow bewildering and frightening if excessively frenetic

A tracking shot can go
  • backwards
  • left to right
  • right to left

The way in which a person is framed in that shot has a specific meaning, (for example, if the camera holds a person in the frame but that person is at one extreme or other of the frame, this could suggest a sense of imprisonment).

The invention of cameraman Garret Brown (developed in conjunction with Cinema Products, Inc.), this is a system which permits hand-held filming with an image steadiness comparable to tracking shots. A vest redistributes the weight of the camera to the hips of the cameraman; a spring-loaded arm minimises the motion the camera; a video monitor frees the cameraman from the eyepiece.

The narrator's voice when the narrator is not seen. Common in television commercials, but also in film noir.

Whip pan:
A type of pan shot in which the camera moves sideways so quickly that the picture blurs into indistinct streaks. It is commonly used as a transition between shots, and can indicate the passage of time and/or a frenetic pace of action. Also known as: swish pan, flick pan and zip pan.

An optical effect in which an image appears to "wipe-off" or push aside the preceding image. Very common in the 1930s; less so today.

A shot using a lens whose focal length is adjusted during the shot. Zooms are sometimes used in place of tracking shots, but the differences between the two are significant. A zoom normally ends in a close-up, a zoom-back in a general shot. Both types of shot imply a rapid movement in time and space, and as such create the illusion of displacement in time and space. A zoom-in picks out and isolates a person or object, a zoom-out places that person or object in a wider context. A zoom shot can be seen, therefore, as voyeurism at its most desirably perfect.


Cinematographic techniques such as the choice of shot, and camera movement, can greatly influence the structure and meaning of a film.

The use of different shot sizes can influence the meaning which an audience will interpret.
The size of the subject in frame depends on two things: the distance the camera is away from the subject and the focal length of the camera lens.
Common shot sizes:
  • Extreme close-up: Focuses on a single facial feature, such as lips and eyes.
  • Close-up
    In filmmaking, television production, still photography and the comic strip medium a close-up tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots . Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene...

    : May be used to show tension.
  • Medium shot
    Medium shot
    In film, a medium shot is a camera shot from a medium distance. The dividing line between "long shot" and "medium shot" is fuzzy, as is the line between "medium shot" and "close-up"...

    : Often used, but considered bad practice by many directors, as it often denies setting establishment and is generally less effective than the Close-up.
  • Long shot
    Long shot
    In photography, filmmaking and video production, a long shot typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings...

  • Establishing shot
    Establishing shot
    An establishing shot in filmmaking and television production sets up, or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects...

    : Mainly used at a new location to give the audience a sense of locality.

Choice of shot size is also directly related to the size of the final display screen the audience will see. A Long shot has much more dramatic power on a large theater screen, whereas the same shot would have less of an impact on a small TV or computer screen.

Movement and expersion

Movement can be used extensively by film makers to make meaning. It is how a scene is put together to produce an image. A famous example of this, which uses "dance" extensively to communicate meaning and emotion, is the film, West Side Story.

Provided in this alphabetised list of film techniques used in motion picture filmmaking
Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

. There are a variety of expressions:

  • Aerial perspective
    Aerial perspective
    Aerial perspective or atmospheric perspective refers to the effect the atmosphere has on the appearance of an object as it is viewed from a distance. As the distance between an object and a viewer increases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases, and the contrast of any...

  • Aerial shot
    Aerial shot
    Aerial shots are usually done with a crane or with a camera attached to a special helicopter to view large landscapes. This sort of shot would be restricted to exterior locations. A good area to do this shot would be a scene that takes place on a building. If the aerial shot is of a character it...

  • American shot
    American shot
    "American shot" is a translation of a phrase from French film criticism, "plan américain" and refers to a medium-long film shot of a group of characters, who are arranged so that all are visible to the camera...

  • Angle of view
    Angle of view
    In photography, angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view....

  • Bird's eye shot
    Bird's eye shot
    In filmmaking and video production, a bird's-eye shot refers to a shot looking directly down on the subject. The perspective is very foreshortened, making the subject appear short and squat. This shot can be used to give an overall establishing shot of a scene, or to emphasise the smallness or...

  • Bird's-eye view
    Bird's-eye view
    A bird's-eye view is an elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird, often used in the making of blueprints, floor plans and maps.It can be an aerial photograph, but also a drawing...

  • Boom shot
    Boom shot
    "A Boom shot, Jib shot, or Crane shot refer to high-angle shots, sometimes with the camera moving."-See also:*Aerial perspective*Aerial shot*American shot*Angle of view*Bird's eye shot*Bird's-eye view*B-roll*Camera angle*Camera coverage...

  • B-roll
    B-roll, B roll, or Broll is the supplemental or alternate footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary.- History :The term B-roll originates from the method of 16 mm film production from an original camera negative...

  • Camera angle
    Camera angle
    The camera angle marks the specific location at which a camera is placed to take a shot. A scene may be shot from several camera angles. This will give different experience and sometimes emotion. the different camera angles will have different effects on the viewer and how they perceive the scene...

  • Camera coverage
    Camera coverage
    Camera coverage, in filmmaking and video production, is the amount of footage shot and different camera angles used to capture a scene. When in the post-production process, the more camera coverage means that there is more footage for the film editor to work with in assembling the final cut.-See...

  • Camera Dolly
    Camera dolly
    A camera dolly is a specialized piece of filmmaking and television production equipment designed to create smooth camera movements . The camera is mounted to the dolly and the camera operator and focus puller or camera assistant, usually ride on the dolly to operate the camera...

  • Camera operator
    Camera operator
    A camera operator or cameraman is a professional operator of a film or video camera. In filmmaking, the leading cameraman is usually called a cinematographer, while a cameraman in a video production may be known as a television camera operator, video camera operator, or videographer, depending on...

  • Camera tracking
  • Cinematic techniques
  • Close-up
    In filmmaking, television production, still photography and the comic strip medium a close-up tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots . Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene...

  • Crane shot
    Crane shot
    In filmmaking and video production a crane shot is a shot taken by a camera on a crane. The most obvious uses are to view the actors from above or to move up and away from them, a common way of ending a movie. Some filmmakers like to have the camera on a boom arm just to make it easier to move...

  • Dolly zoom
    Dolly zoom
    The dolly zoom is an unsettling in-camera effect that appears to undermine normal visual perception. It is part of many cinematic techniques used in filmmaking and television production....

  • Dutch angle
    Dutch angle
    Dutch tilt, Dutch angle, Dutch shot, oblique angle, German angle, canted angle, Batman angle, or jaunty angle are terms used for one of many cinematic techniques often used to portray the psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed...

  • Establishing shot
    Establishing shot
    An establishing shot in filmmaking and television production sets up, or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects...

  • Film frame
    Film frame
    In filmmaking, video production, animation, and related fields, a film frame or video frame is one of the many still images which compose the complete moving picture...

  • Filmmaking
    Filmmaking is the process of making a film, from an initial story, idea, or commission, through scriptwriting, casting, shooting, directing, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a theatrical release or television program...

  • Follow shot
    Follow shot
    Follow shot or tracking shot is a specific camera shot in which the subject being filmed is seemingly pursued by the camera. The follow shot can be achieved through tracking devices, panning, the use of a crane, and zoom lenses resulting in different qualitative images but, nevertheless, recording...

  • Forced perspective
    Forced perspective
    Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, filmmaking and architecture...

  • Freeze frame shot
    Freeze frame shot
    A freeze frame shot is used when one shot is printed in a single frame several times, in order to make an interesting illusion of a still photograph....

  • Full frame
    Full frame
    In cinematography, full frame refers to the use of the full film gate at maximum width and height for 35 mm film cameras. It is sometimes also referred to as silent aperture, full gate, or a number of other similar word combinations. It is the original gate size pioneered by William Dickson and...

  • Full shot
  • Hanging miniature
    Hanging miniature
    Hanging miniature is an in-camera special effect similar to a matte shot where a model, rather than a painting, is placed in foreground and the action takes place in the background. It is thus a specific form of forced perspective.-Description:...

  • Head shot
    Head shot
    A head shot is a photographic technique where the focus of the photograph is a person's face. Headshot is essentially the same as portrait. However, headshot is an image that portrays people as they are and is more of a "mug shot", however simple or stylized it might be. Whereas, a portrait will...

  • High-angle shot
    High-angle shot
    In film, a high angle shot is usually when the camera is located above the eyeline.With this type of angle, the camera looks down on the subject and the point of focus often get "swallowed up" by the setting....

  • Long shot
    Long shot
    In photography, filmmaking and video production, a long shot typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings...

  • Long take
    Long take
    A long take is an uninterrupted shot in a film which lasts much longer than the conventional editing pace either of the film itself or of films in general, usually lasting several minutes. It can be used for dramatic and narrative effect if done properly, and in moving shots is often accomplished...

  • Low-angle shot
    Low-angle shot
    In cinematography, a low-angle shot, is a shot from a camera positioned low on the vertical axis, anywhere below the eyeline, looking up.-Famous examples:...

  • Master shot
    Master shot
    A master shot is a film recording of an entire dramatized scene, from start to finish, from an angle that keeps all the players in view. It is often a long shot and can sometimes perform a double function as an establishing shot...

  • Medium shot
    Medium shot
    In film, a medium shot is a camera shot from a medium distance. The dividing line between "long shot" and "medium shot" is fuzzy, as is the line between "medium shot" and "close-up"...

  • Money shot
    Money shot
    A money shot is a moving or stationary visual element of a film, video, television broadcast, print publication, etc., that is disproportionately expensive to produce and/or is perceived as essential to the overall importance or revenue-generating potential of the work.-Cinema:Originally, in...

  • Multiple-camera setup
    Multiple-camera setup
    The multiple-camera setup, multiple-camera mode of production, or multicam is a method of filmmaking and video production. Several cameras—either film or professional video cameras—are employed on the set and simultaneously record or broadcast a scene...

  • One shot (music video)
    One shot (music video)
    A "one-shot" is any music video which consists of action, continuous in time and space, from the perspective of a single camera — a single long take. In order to be able to make one shot videos several special techniques are used. Most commonly the stage props which are not currently caught on...

  • Over the shoulder shot
    Over the shoulder shot
    In film or video, an over the shoulder shot is a shot of someone or something taken from the perspective or camera angle from the shoulder of another person. The back of the shoulder and head of this person is used to frame the image of whatever the camera is pointing toward...

  • Panning (camera)
    Panning (camera)
    In photography, panning refers to the horizontal movement or rotation of a still or video camera, or the scanning of a subject horizontally on video or a display device...

  • Point of view shot
    Point of view shot
    A point of view shot is a short film scene that shows what a character is looking at . It is usually established by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character's reaction...

  • Rack focus
  • Reaction shot
    Reaction shot
    Reaction shot is a term used in motion picture production and cinematography referring to a basic unit of film grammar. It is a shot which cuts away from the main scene in order to show the reaction of a character to it....

  • Shot (filmmaking)
  • Shot reverse shot
    Shot reverse shot
    Shot reverse shot is a film technique where one character is shown looking at another character , and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character...

  • Single-camera setup
    Single-camera setup
    The single-camera setup, or single-camera mode of production, is a method of filmmaking and video production. A single camera—either motion picture camera or professional video camera—is employed on the set and each shot to make up a scene is taken individually...

  • Tilt (camera)
    Tilt (camera)
    Tilting is a cinematographic technique in which the camera is stationary and rotates in a vertical plane . A rotation in a horizontal plane is known as panning...

  • Top-down perspective
  • Tracking shot
    Tracking shot
    In motion picture terminology, a tracking shot is a segment in which the camera is mounted on a camera dolly, a wheeled platform that is pushed on rails while the picture is being taken...

  • Trunk shot
    Trunk shot
    The Trunk shot is a camera angle used in cinema when one or more characters need to retrieve something or someone from the trunk of a car. Though the trunk shot can be produced with great difficulty by placing the camera inside the trunk of a car and filming the action outside the trunk of the car,...

  • Two shot
    Two shot
    A Two shot is a type of shot employed in the film industry in which the frame encompasses a view of two people . The subjects do not have to be next to each other, and there are many common two-shots which have one subject in the foreground and the other subject in the background.The shots are also...

  • Video production
    Video production
    Video production is videography, the process of capturing moving images on electronic media even streaming media. The term includes methods of production and post-production...

  • Walk and talk
    Walk and talk
    Walk and talk is a distinctive storytelling-technique used in filmmaking and television production in which a number of characters have a conversation en route. The most basic form of walk and talk involves a walking character that is then joined by another character. On their way to their...

  • Whip pan
    Whip pan
    A whip pan is a type of pan shot in which the camera moves sideways so quickly that the picture blurs into indistinct streaks. It is commonly used as a transition between shots, and can indicate the passage of time and/or a frenetic pace of action....

  • Worm's-eye view
    Worm's-eye view
    A worm's-eye view is a view of an object from below, as though the observer were a worm; the opposite of a bird's-eye view.A worm's eye view is used commonly for third perspective when you put one vanishing point on top, one on the left, and one on the right....

Mise en scène

"Mise en scène" refers to what is colloquially known as "the Set," but is applied more generally to refer to everything that is presented before the camera. With various techniques, film makers can use the mise en scène to produce intended effects.

Lighting technique and aesthetics

  • Background lighting
  • Cameo lighting
    Cameo lighting
    Cameo lighting in film is a spotlight that accentuates a single person in a scene. It creates an 'angelic' shot, such as one where God is shining down and a light shines down onto this person....

  • Fill light
    Fill light
    In television, film, stage, or photographic lighting, a fill light may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene and provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow...

  • Flood lighting
  • High-key lighting
    High-key lighting
    High-key lighting is a style of lighting for film, television, or photography that aims to reduce the lighting ratio present in the scene. This was originally done partly for technological reasons, since early film and television did not deal well with high contrast ratios, but now is used to...

  • Key Lighting
  • Lens flare
    Lens flare
    Lens flare is the light scattered in lens systems through generally unwanted image formation mechanisms, such as internal reflection and scattering from material inhomogeneities in the lens. These mechanisms differ from the intended image formation mechanism that depends on refraction of the image...

  • Low-key lighting
    Low-key lighting
    Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect. Traditional photographic lighting, three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination...

  • Mood lighting
  • Rembrandt lighting
    Rembrandt lighting
    Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique that is sometimes used in studio portrait photography. It can be achieved using one light and a reflector, or two lights, and is popular because it is capable of producing images which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum of equipment...

  • Stage lighting
    Stage lighting
    Modern stage lighting is a flexible tool in the production of theatre, dance, opera and other performance arts. Several different types of stage lighting instruments are used in the pursuit of the various principles or goals of lighting. Stage lighting has grown considerably in recent years...

  • Soft light
    Soft light
    Soft light refers to light that tends to "wrap" around objects, casting shadows with soft edges. The softness of the light depends mostly on the following two factors:*Distance. The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.*Size of light source...

To achieve the results mentioned above, a Lighting Director may use a number or combination of Video Lights. These may include the Redhead or Open-face unit, The Fresnel Light, which gives you a little more control over the spill, or The Dedolight, which provides a more efficient light output and a beam which is easier to control.

Editing and transitional devices

  • A Roll
  • B Roll
  • Cross cutting
  • Cutaway
  • Dissolve
    Dissolve (filmmaking)
    In the post-production process of film editing and video editing, a dissolve is a gradual transition from one image to another. The terms fade-out and fade-in and are used to describe a transition to and from a blank image. This is in contrast to a cut where there is no such transition. A dissolve...

  • Establishing shot
    Establishing shot
    An establishing shot in filmmaking and television production sets up, or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects...

  • Fast cutting
    Fast cutting
    Fast cutting is a film editing technique which refers to several consecutive shots of a brief duration . It can be used to convey a lot of information very quickly, or to imply either energy or chaos...

  • Flashback
  • Insert
  • Jump cut
    Jump cut
    A jump cut is a cut in film editing and vloging in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. This type of edit causes the subject of the shots to appear to "jump" position in a discontinuous way...

  • Keying
  • L cut
    L cut
    An L cut, also known as a split edit, is an edit transition from one shot to another in film or video, where the picture and sound are synchronized but the transitions in each are not coincident. This is often done to enhance the aesthetics or flow of the film as L cuts allow the audience to see...

     ("Split edit")
  • Master shot
    Master shot
    A master shot is a film recording of an entire dramatized scene, from start to finish, from an angle that keeps all the players in view. It is often a long shot and can sometimes perform a double function as an establishing shot...

  • Match cut
    Match cut
    A match cut, also called a graphic match, is a cut in film editing between either two different objects, two different spaces, or two different compositions in which an object in the two shots graphically match, often helping to establish a strong continuity of action and linking the two shots...

  • Montage
  • Point of view shot
    Point of view shot
    A point of view shot is a short film scene that shows what a character is looking at . It is usually established by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character's reaction...

  • Screen direction
    Screen direction
    "Screen direction" is a term used in motion picture and video editing and refers to an underlying concept of cinematic grammar which involves the direction that actors or objects appear to be moving on the screen from the point of view of the camera or audience...

  • Sequence shot
  • Smash cut
    Smash cut
    A smash cut is a technique in film and other moving visual media where one scene abruptly cuts to another without transition, usually meant to startle the audience. To this end, the smash cut usually occurs at a crucial moment in a scene where a cut would not be expected...

  • Slow cutting
    Slow cutting
    Slow cutting is a film editing technique which uses shots of long duration. Though it depends on context, it is estimated that any shot longer than about fifteen seconds will seem rather slow to viewers from Western cultures....

  • Split screen
    Split screen (film)
    In film and video production, split screen is the visible division of the screen, traditionally in half, but also in several simultaneous images, rupturing the illusion that the screen's frame is a seamless view of reality, similar to that of the human eye...

  • SMPTE time code
    SMPTE time code
    SMPTE timecode is a set of cooperating standards to label individual frames of video or film with a time code defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers in the SMPTE 12M specification...

  • Shot reverse shot
    Shot reverse shot
    Shot reverse shot is a film technique where one character is shown looking at another character , and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character...

  • Talking head
    Talking head
    Talking head may refer to:Computers and internet*Computer facial animation, area of computer graphics that animates images of the human head and face*Interactive online charactersFilm and television*Talking Head , 1992 film by Mamoru Oshii...

  • Wipe

Special effects (FX)

  • 3-D film
    3-D film
    A 3-D film or S3D film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception...

     for movie history
  • 3-D computer graphics
  • Bluescreen/Chroma key
    Chroma key
    Chroma key compositing is a technique for compositing two images together. A color range in the top layer is made transparent, revealing another image behind. The chroma keying technique is commonly used in video production and post-production...

  • Bullet time
    Bullet time
    Bullet time is a special and visual effect that refers to a digitally enhanced simulation of variable-speed photography used in films, broadcast advertisements, and video games...

  • Computer-generated imagery
    Computer-generated imagery
    Computer-generated imagery is the application of the field of computer graphics or, more specifically, 3D computer graphics to special effects in art, video games, films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media...

  • Digital compositing
    Digital compositing
    Digital compositing is the process of digitally assembling multiple images to make a final image, typically for print, motion pictures or screen display...

  • Optical effects
  • Stereoscopy
    Stereoscopy refers to a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by presenting two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. Both of these 2-D offset images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of 3-D depth...

     for 3D technical details
  • Stop trick
    Stop trick
    A stop trick is a film special effect. It occurs when an object is filmed, then while the camera is off, the object is moved out of sight of the camera, then the camera is turned back on. When the film is watched it thus seems to the viewer that object disappears.Georges Méliès accidentally...

  • Stop motion
    Stop motion
    Stop motion is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence...

((dream sequences))


In cinematography
Cinematography is the making of lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for cinema. It is closely related to the art of still photography...

, the use of light can influence the meaning of a shot. For example, film makers often portray villains that are heavily shadowed or veiled, using silhouette
A silhouette is the image of a person, an object or scene consisting of the outline and a basically featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black. Although the art form has been popular since the mid-18th century, the term “silhouette” was seldom used until the early decades...


Techniques involving light include backlight(silhouette), and under-lighting(light across a character form).


Sound is used extensively in filmmaking to enhance presentation, and is distinguished into diegetic
Diegesis is a style of representation in fiction and is:# the world in which the situations and events narrated occur; and# telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.In diegesis the narrator tells the story...

 and non-diegetic sound:
  • Diegetic sound: It is sound that the characters can hear as well as the audience, and usually implies a reaction from the character. Also called "literal sound" or "actual sound":
    • Voices of characters;
    • Sounds made by objects in the story; and/or like heart beats of a person
    • Source music
      Film score
      A film score is original music written specifically to accompany a film, forming part of the film's soundtrack, which also usually includes dialogue and sound effects...

      , represented as coming from instruments in the story space.
    • Basic sound effects, e.g. dog barking, car passing; as it is in the scene
    • Music coming from reproduction devices such as record players, radios, tape players etc.
  • Non-diegetic sound: It is sound which is represented as coming from a source outside the story space, i.e. its source is neither visible on the screen, nor has been implied to be present in the action. Also called "non-literal sound" or "commentary sound":
    • Narrator's commentary;
    • Voice of God;
    • Sound effect which is added for dramatic effect;
    • Mood music; and
    • Film Score
Non-diegetic sound plays a significant role in creating the atmosphere and mood within a film.
Very commonly diagetic shift occurs from one to the other, for example when characters are listening to music, then start dancing and the music becomes non-diagetic to indicate being 'lost in the moment'.

Sound effects

In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point, without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process, applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, the segregations between recordings of dialogue, music, and sound effects can be quite distinct, and it is important to understand that in such contexts, dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, though the processes applied to them, such as reverberation
Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is removed. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air...

 or flanging
Flanging is an audio effect produced by mixing two identical signals together, with one signal delayed by a small and gradually changing period, usually smaller than 20 milliseconds. This produces a swept comb filter effect: peaks and notches are produced in the resultant frequency spectrum,...

, often are.

Techniques in interactive movies

New techniques currently being developed in interactive movie
Interactive movie
An interactive movie is a video game that features highly cinematic presentation and heavy use of scripting, often through the use of full-motion video of either animated or live-action footage.-Philosophy:...

s, introduce an extra dimension into the experience of viewing movies, by allowing the viewer to change the course of the movie.

In traditional linear movies, the author can carefully construct the plot, roles, and characters to achieve a specific effect on the audience. Interactivity
In the fields of information science, communication, and industrial design, there is debate over the meaning of interactivity. In the "contingency view" of interactivity, there are three levels:...

, however, introduces non-linearity into the movie, such that the author no longer has complete control over the story, but must now share control with the viewer. There is an inevitable trade-off between the desire of the viewer for freedom to experience the movie in different ways, and the desire of the author to employ specialized techniques to control the presentation of the story. Computer technology is required to create the illusion of freedom for the viewer, while providing familiar, as well as, new cinematic techniques to the author.

External links

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