Shot Descriptions

When creating a storyboard and filming, you must be aware of shot descriptions. Having a common language and understanding of terms will help to make communication among the participants much easier.

Consider these shot descriptions when creating the storyboard and again when filming. Click the linked images to play a QuickTime example.

  • Storyboard Form - Use this to create your storyboard. (Need Excel to open.)
  • Comics Online

Click to play a Quicktime sample movie



One person‚ head & shoulders. This shot is great for showing facial expressions. It is used often when showing conversation or to show reactions.

Extreme Close-up

Just a face/head with little or no background. Use this sparingly, but it can show expression and create tension because it is so close that it is slightly uncomfortable for the viewer.

2 shot     

Similar to a close-up, 2 heads Again shows expression. The subjects must be quite close for this to work. Shows intimacy.

Medium Shot

Medium Shot (Can also do a Medium 2 shot, 3 shot, etc.)

Waist up shot of 1 or more people. Close enough to see some expression. Establishes the relational distance between subjects.

Wide Shot

Wide Shot

Full body shot of one or more people. Good shot when there is movement of the subject(s). Shows relationship between subjects. Helps establish setting.

Extreme Long Establishing Shot - Digital Zoom In

Extreme Long Shot

Shot from too far away to recognize people. Similar to an establishing shot, but always has peolpe in it. Can show movement and relates subjects to setting.

Establishing Shot - Digital Zoom In

Establishing Shot - Digital Zoom Out

Establishing Shot - Camera Dolly Zoom In

Estabkishing Shot - High Angle - Zoom In

Establishing Shot

Usually an extreme long shot that establishes the location where a scene takes place. The shot should give the viewer a sense of place and establish the mood of the video as well.

Often shot from helicopters or cranes in Hollywood movies. This shot takes in a broad setting and gives the viewers an idea of location. Often used as a backdrop for opening titles and credits.

Establishing shots are often done using camera movements.

As shown at the left, these can involve a zoom in or out or even a long pan or truck shot.

Special Shots

This scene has several "Over the Shoulder" shots to show what the subject is viewing. There are also wide, medium, and close-up shots edited together to provide movement and setting.

Over the shoulder

Often used in conversational or interview settings. Works well with "How-To" videos showing the viewer what is being done by the subject's hands. The shot is taken over the shoulder of one person and is a close up- or medium shot of the interviwee or an object. In an interview, the interviewer's questions can be reshot later from the front and then edited in.

For a conversation, you may want to shoot the whole thing over one person's shoulder, then over the other and finally as a two shot, medium, or wide shot.

This scene alternates between "Point of View" in the back seat and an outside wide shot. Shot in B & W as a flashback.

These clips are from a docu-drama where the "drama" portions were shot entirely from the point-of-view of a new student. All types of shots from are included, but always with the camera at the eye level of the main character. The character is never seen, except for the hands.


This can really be any of the shots described above, but is taken as if looking through the eyes of one of the characters in the film.

Low Angle

Low Angle

Low Angle

A low angle shot gives the subject more power. It makes the audience feel as if they are looking up to the subject. It can also be used to exagerate height or distance up to the subject.

This clip starts at a very low angle and switches to a high angle.

High Angle

A high angle shot makes the subject less powerful. It can cause the audience to feel they are looking down on the subject. It can also be used to emphasize the smallness of or distance down to the subject.


Lynn Ewing