Tips for teachers & students: shot sizes and movement
Just as words and punctuation form sentences, sentences form paragraphs and paragraphs form stories in a book. So too do shots sizes and movement form sequences, sequences form scenes, and scenes form stories on film.
When planning your documentary film, it is important to think about what shots you will need to help tell your entire story. What shots will you need to establish your story and each scene? What shots will you need to establish your characters and their journey? What shots will you need to detail, enhance or explain voice-overs, interviews or archival footage?
Below are some examples of shot sizes and movement. We reccommend that teachers look through the clips before sharing with the class to ensure they are appropriate for your students. The clips themselves don’t contain offensive material, however some of the films featured are M-rated and therefore the full trailers may not be appropriate for younger audiences (some contain swearing). The videos only feature a couple of seconds of footage where the exact shot-type is featured. Therefore we encourage you to be ready and keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss it!
Examples of shot sizes
Close up shots
Close up shots capture a small amount of a scene in great detail. They are often used to show someone’s facial expressions or other important details within your scene. Here are a few examples of close up shots at various distances:
Extreme close up
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 00:25-00:29
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 01:54-01:57
Medium close up
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 00:37-00:43
Medium or mid shots show your subject(s) within their environment. These are often used for interviews and presenter-led shots. Here are a few examples:
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 01:32-01:34
Source: The Will To Fly Trailer 02:16-02:18
Source: The Will To Fly Trailer 02:04-02:06
Wide show most or all of your subject and their environment or only the environment. Extremely wide shots are often used as establishing shots to set the scene. Here are a few examples:
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 01:36-01:39
Extreme wide shot
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 00:02-00:16
There are heaps of other shot types that are used to help tell your story, set the scene or capture detail. These are often used around your main character shots to help add detail and context to your story. Here are a few examples:
Here are three examples of a cut in. These shots are used to show more detail of your frame.
Source: Zach’s Ceremony Trailer 00:23-00:25
Source: The Backtrack Boys Trailer 01:04-01:06
Source: Cast From The Storm Trailer 01:15-01:77
Cutaways are generally used to capture detail of what is happening around a subject. You will often see cutaways at the end of a scene or scattered throughout an interview to give a broader context.
Source: Cast From The Storm Trailer 00:05-00:09
Examples of camera movement
Trailer: A Common Purpose by Looking Glass Pictures
Trailer: Waste Not by Total Environment Centre
Trailer: Ka-Ching: Pokie Nation by Looking Glass Pictures
Trailer: Constance on The Edge directed by Belinda Mason
Trailer: Gayby Baby directed by Maya Newell
Trailer: We Live Here directed by Clare Lewis