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A lot of people think they know how to take pictures or record videos. After all, it is just a matter of pressing the shutter and record button, right? Well, not exactly. Apparently, there is more to just pointing and taking shots if the goal is to get an impressive and professionally done video clip or photos. Why do you think there are schools for film enthusiasts? The basic formula for an effective video though is effective shots and framing. How is this achieved?
First, you need to compose an image about your subject and everything else surrounding it. This is what framing is all about—creating a composition that will bring out dramatic results of an otherwise ordinary-looking object. But because images and clips are subjective; that is, not all of them may suit everyone’s definition of impressive or dramatic, you must learn some industry guidelines that serve as rule of thumb.
Second, understand the basic types of shots. After all, they are the key to effective framing because they define your subject’s relation to a certain scene or clip. Know though that terminologies used may vary in different production environment, but the definition is basically the same.
- Extreme Wide Shot (EWS). This view doesn’t exactly show where the subject is, but it is often used as an establishing shot. Similar to a beginning of a story, EWS is intended to tell the audience where a particular scene is taking place.
- Very Wide Shot (VWS). This is considered another establishing shot, except that the subject will be slightly visible in it. Although the focus is still on the environment, the viewers will get an idea of where the shot is leading to.
- Wide Shot (WS). This is the part where your subject takes up the full frame. Still, it is wide enough to capture the surroundings because it is probably the closest you can get without chopping off the top and bottom part of the subject. If your focus is a human, for example, getting too close could crop off either the feet or head, thus the need to maintain a wide shot.
- Mid Shot (MS). Unlike the other shots, this is an approximation of how you view a person in real life or when having a casual conversation. That is, you would normally focus on the upper half of the body, making the lower part unnecessary.
- Medium Close Up (MCU). This shot is neither too far nor too close to the subject and still provides a clear view. This is halfway between MS and CU.
- Close Up (CU). Is where the subject takes up the whole frame—a close up shot of a person’s face, for example.
- Extremely Close Up (ECU). From the term itself, you can pretty much surmise what this shot is all about. More than that, however, it is used to convey emotion.
- Cutaway (CU). This is a shot of another action or a CU of a different part of a subject. It is used to add interest or information between shots.
Now that you are familiar with the basic types of shots, it is time to know some rules in framing. The most important would be identifying straight vertical and horizontal lines. Both aspects must be level, unless you are aiming for a tilted effect.
Then, follow the rule of thirds. In a frame of nine sections, place points of interest at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way up or across rather than in the middle. There should also be just enough “headroom”, “looking room” and “leading room”, as too much of them would be a waste of frame space. A shot of a person moving forward, for instance, must have a leading room for him to walk into.
Most importantly, remember that everything in a frame is vital to a particular composition. So don’t focus on the subject alone but also the rest of the surroundings, background, and even lighting.
For more information on Shots and Framing please have a look in the videography section