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Creator Tips and Tricks #6: Camera Shot Types and How to use them

ArtCrumbs Community • Jan 11, 2022

Along with Camera angles and positions, the last look at Cameras that we’ll take are camera shots. These typically refer to how much and/or how many subjects appear in the shot itself. Just like with angles and positions, the shot or depth of field you choose can impact your storytelling.

Different depths of field have different uses:

  • Long (Wide): Often show the subject from a distance, putting the focus on the environment, location within that environment and scale.
  • Medium: Fall somewhere between and act as a hybrid of a Long shot and Close Up. These allow the reader to focus on the character while still able to see the background.
  • Close: Close shots focus on various details on the subject. It’s perfect or highlighting emotions.  Facial expressions are some of the best ways to communicate emotions in your characters.

With our intro out of the way, let's get started!

Extreme Wide Shot

Typically seen in Establishing shots, these are used to show the subject at a distance. However, they don’t have to focus on the environment. If used well with character/subject body language or even lighting, we can establish mood and a subject’s emotional or physical relationship with the surrounding elements. That said the character or subject doesn’t have to be 100% viewable or detailed in this shot. Remember your backgrounds and environments can be characters and storytellers too!

Long Wide Shot

Similar to an Extreme Long Shot, the subject/character is viewable completely. They don’t have to fill up the frame from top to bottom, but be visible in its entirety. Despite that, the environment is still the primary focus here. It’s used to place the characters and subjects in the environment, giving the viewer a frame of reference for the following shots within that scene. Just like the Extreme Long, it can also be used to set the frame of mind and mood for characters.

Full Shot

A full shot frames a character from head to toe, just like the Long shot. However, the main difference is that this shot is usually used to show the movement, body posture, action and other physical attributes of the character in their current situation. It’s more about the action and movement than the emotional state, like the Long Shot would be used.

Long Medium Shot

This shot shows the subject approximately from the knees up, or about ¾ of whatever the subject might be. Not every subject has knees you know! It’s a hybrid between the Full Shot and the Medium. It’s a great shot for showing characters and subjects in their environment if what is going on around them is very important and needs more “space”.

Cowboy Shot

This infamous shot was coined in the 1930s-1940s. True to it’s name, it came from the Western films of the times that were so popular. Interestingly enough, it’s also known as the  “American Shot”. It’s typically from the mid-thigh and above, the perfect shot to see those gun holsters, thus its name. Those comic and manga creators who favor westerns, you definitely should take advantage of this one!

Medium Shot

The Medium shot focuses on the subject, but with more detail than the previous shots we’ve covered. This is probably one of the most popular shots you’ll see in modern film and comics. It’s great because while it focuses on the subject and its detail, there is still enough room that you can see and use the environment around them if you wish. This shot is usually from the waist up, or about half of your subject.

Medium Close Up Shot

Just like the hybrid for the Medium Long, we have a Medium Close Up. The cut-off for this type of shot is typically about shoulder and above or chest and above. It’s a relatively simple shot that can allow a viewer to easily see the emotion on a character and their body language as well as the space around them to a limited degree.

Close Up Shot

The Close up fills the screen, top to bottom with one part of the subject. It could be a head, a hand, a mechanical device, anything! The only “requirement” is that the “part of something” that is being shown goes from the top to the bottom of the frame. This is most commonly used for heads and faces as it gives the creator the ability to show a lot of detail, reactions, and emotion within the face of the character.

Choker Shot

A type of Close up, this cuts off part of the face so that it only includes above the eyebrows to the mouth of the character. It’s a sort of middle-ground between a close up and extreme  close up.

Extreme Close Up Shot

Lastly, we have the Extreme Close Up, which focuses its attention on one small part of the subject. For a face, this could be the eyes, the nose, the ears. It could be the throat for a nervous gulp. A small crack in a wall that is appearing. Maybe an important stone on the ground. It’s a great tool to make the viewer more intimate with the character and showing nuanced changes in emotions.

And there you have it! These are the most fundamental shots for depth of field in film. All of these shots are relevant to comics and manga as well. This is the power of Visual Narrative, going across mediums with universal techniques. This episode concludes our Visual Narrative series.

Take a look at these resources I've gathered for you as well:

See you next time!

~ AhkwardKat and the GlobalComix Team