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DV Filmmaking by Ian David Aronson

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Chapter 3. Composing a Shot to Fit Your Output Medium

In this chapter

An Overview of Shots—Medium Shot, Wide Shot, Close-up, and Extreme Close-up
Shooting with DVD Compression in Mind

When I was in film school, a professor told us that people learning to use a camera tend to frame things they way they see them with their eyes—everything appears in medium shot. When you look around, your eyes take in everything at once. If you look at a particular object, say a book on a shelf, your eyes don’t zoom in and frame out everything around it. Even as you read the words on this page, you can still see objects to your left and right using your peripheral vision.

The medium shot, however, isn’t the only option available to a director. As a filmmaker, you have the ability to focus an audience’s attention exactly where you want it. Depending on how tightly you frame a shot, your audience might see everything in a room or only a single detail on one specific object. Cinematographers use a vocabulary of different shot types to tell a story and shape their audiences’ experience. Directors can also use framing to make a project particularly friendly to a specific viewing environment, such as television, movie theaters, or home screenings via DVD.

An Overview of Shots—Medium Shot, Wide Shot, Close-up, and Extreme Close-up

Medium shots, abbreviated MS, are generally the most common type of framing. A typical medium shot might show the protagonist of a film in his environment; for example, a teacher ...

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