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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wide, Medium, and Tight Shots

Now that you're learning some of the basic tips and tricks to shooting better video, it's time to get a little more advanced and start thinking about the types of shots you're shooting in terms of their framing.

This is going to be especially helpful if you're thinking about editing your video. We're going to start addressing editing soon, so get ready for that. First, though, let's start with three basic shots: the wide, medium, and tight (or close-up) shots.

The Wide Shot

This is exactly what it sounds like. Just a big shot with everything you need in it. Imagine you're shooting your friend giving a speech. This shot would have not only your friend, but possibly the entire room you're in and the audience. The basic idea is that your subject is a small part of the screen. A type of wide shot might be called and "establishing shot" because it establishes the scene. You can also get some "super wide" shots for a little more variety.

If you're shooting one shot you plan to use for social media, a shot framed this wide may be to distracting for the viewer. Remember the donut. It may be best to look for a medium or tight shot. If you have no choice (maybe you're at a football game), then look for a way to get that shot as steady as possible.

The Medium Shot

To me, medium shots compose much of what I see people posting on line and most of what you see in video. It's easy to think of it as just your regular ole shot. Maybe it's just a shot of your friend as he stands at the podium giving his speech. Remember to keep your composition clean and medium shots go a long way toward telling the story you're communicating. But sometimes you really want to see what's going on or see your subject's eyes. And that's why you get:

The Tight Shot

You can call it a close-up, but this is just getting up close and personal with your subject and getting that framing tight. As your friend gives the speech, we don't even see the podium anymore. Maybe it's from the chest up or even his face. If you want to go for that extreme tight or "extreme close-up", you might just get his eyes. I've always been a fan of getting the extreme tight shots for the editing process. But not only for that, a good close up cuts out a lot of clutter and really makes the clip or scene easily digested.

As a side note: a good lesson to keep in mind is that you want to be kind to your viewer. We've already established you're here because you want to share your video. Extreme tight shots of gross things tend to turn people off. My pet peeve is the "chewing mouth" shots I see every once in a while or anything involving blood.

It's a common misconception that broadcast news outlets only show death and gore. Maybe you've heard the phrase, "If it bleeds, it leads." While the content they report may tend to be focused on the bad things that happen, most local and national news organizations have policies or at least editors that often decide against showing blood or images that may be disturbing (there are several reasons and it can be a controversial topic). Nevertheless, simply use your best judgement and maybe ask yourself if you'd watch your video while eating.