EWS (Extreme Wide Shot)
In the extreme wide shot, the view is so far from the subject that s/he isn't even visible. The point of this shot is to show the subject's surroundings.
The EWS is often used as an "establishing shot" - the first shot of a new scene, designed to show the audience where the action is taking place.
It is also useful in scenes where the action is very spread out. For example, in a war movie an extreme wide shot can show the scale of the action.
The EWS is also known as an extra long shot or extreme long shot (acronym XLS).
VWS (Very Wide Shot)
The very wide shot is much closer to the subject than an extreme wide shot, but still much further away than a wide shot. The subject is visible here but only just (in this case it's a boy leaning against the fence). The emphasis is very much on placing him in his environment.
This often works as an establishing shot, in which the audience is shown the whole setting so they can orient themselves.
The VWS also allows plenty of room for action to take place, or for multiple subjects to appear on screen.
WS (Wide Shot)
In the wide shot, the subject takes up the full frame. In this case, the boy's feet are almost at the bottom of frame and his head is almost at the top. Obviously the subject doesn't take up the whole width and height of the frame, since this is as close as we can get without losing any part of him. The small amount of room above and below the subject can be thought of as safety room — you don't want to be cutting the top of the head off. It would also look uncomfortable if his feet and head were exactly at the top and bottom of frame.
As with many shot types, the wide shot means different things to different people. However the wide shot seems to suffer more from varying interpretations than other types. Many people take the WS to mean something much wider than our example, i.e. what we would call a very wide shot.
MS (Mid Shot)
The mid shot shows some part of the subject in more detail, whilst still showing enough for the audience to feel as if they were looking at the whole subject. In fact, this is an approximation of how you would see a person "in the flesh" if you were having a casual conversation. You wouldn't be paying any attention to their lower body, so that part of the picture is unnecessary.
The MS is appropriate when the subject is speaking without too much emotion or intense concentration. It also works well when the intent is to deliver information, which is why it is frequently used by television news presenters. You will often see a story begin with a MS of the reporter (providing information), followed by closer shots of interview subjects (providing reactions and emotion).
As well as being a comfortable, emotionally neutral shot, the mid shot allows room for hand gestures and a bit of movement.
MCU (Medium Close Up)
The medium close up is halfway between a mid shot and a close up. This shot shows the subjects face more clearly without getting uncomfortably close.
CU (Close Up Shot)
In the closeup shot, a certain feature or part of the subject takes up most of the frame. A close up of a person usually means a close up of their face (unless specified otherwise).
Close-ups are obviously useful for showing detail and can also be used as a cut in.
A close-up of a person emphasizes their emotional state. Whereas a mid shot or wide shot is more appropriate for delivering facts and general information, a close-up exaggerates facial expressions which convey emotion. The viewer is drawn into the subject's personal space and shares their feelings.
A variation is the chocker shot which is typically framed on the subject's face from above the eyebrows to below the mouth.
ECU (Extreme Close Up Shot)
The ECU (also known as XCU) gets right in and shows extreme detail.
You would normally need a specific reason to get this close. It is too close to show general reactions or emotion except in very dramatic scenes.
A variation of this shot is the chocker
CI (Cut In)
Can be used purely as an edit point, or to emphasise emotion etc. For example, hand movements can show enthusiasm, agitation, nervousness, etc.
Like a cutaway, but specifically refers to showing some part of the subject in detail.
CA (Cutaway Shot)
A cutaway is a shot that's usually of something other than the current action. It could be a different subject (eg. this cat when the main subject is its owner), a close up of a different part of the subject (eg. the subject's hands), or just about anything else.
The cutaway is used as a "buffer" between shots (to help the editing process), or to add interest/information.
TS (Two Shot)
There are a few variations on this one, but the basic idea is to have a comfortable shot of two people. Often used in interviews, or when two presenters are hosting a show.
A "One-Shot" could be a mid shot of either of these subjects. A "Three-Shot", unsurprisingly, contains three people.
Two-shots are good for establishing a relationship between subjects. If you see two sports presenters standing side by side facing the camera, you get the idea that these people are going to be the show's co-hosts. As they have equal prominence in the frame, the implication is that they will provide equal input. Of course this doesn't always apply, for example, there are many instances in which it's obvious one of the people is a presenter and the other is a guest. In any case, the two-shot is a natural way to introduce two people.
A two-shot could also involve movement or action. It is a good way to follow the interaction between two people without getting distracted by their surroundings.
OSS (Over the Shoulder Shot)
This shot is framed from behind a person who is looking at the subject. The person facing the subject should usually occupy about 1/3 of the frame.
This shot helps to establish the position of each person, and get the feel of looking at one person from the other's point of view.
It's common to cut between these shots during a conversation, alternating the view between the different speakers.
NS (Noddy Shot)
Common in interviews, this is a shot of the person listening and reacting to the subject. In fact, when shooting interviews with one camera, the usual routine is to shoot the subject (using OSS and one-shots) for the entire interview, then shoot some noddies of the interviewer once the interview is finished. The noddies are edited into the interview later.
POV (Point of View Shot)
This shot shows a view from the subject's perspective. It is usually edited in such a way that it is obvious whose POV it is.
WS (Weather Shot)
In this type of shot the subject is the weather. The sky takes up at least 2/3 of the frame. This type of shot is common in television programs where the weather is of particular interest, e.g. sports shows.
Although the usual purpose of this shot is to show the weather, it is also useful as an establishing shot, for setting the general mood or for overlaying graphics.
A weather shot doesn't have to show the sky. Other shots often used to illustrate weather include:
- Puddles, drain spouts or any example of rainwater flow.
- Trees or anything else blowing in the wind.
- People sunbathing.
- Snowmen, snowball fights, snow sledding, etc