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8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

Cinematography is a very wide subject and can be learned by practicals only. Here I am writing 8 best cinematography techniques & tips you didn’t learn in film school.

You are going to learn cinematography techniques and terms which are used in film industry.

It will definitely help you out in excel cinematography and making you the best cinematographer with the best techniques.

Let us get into the subject and here are the 8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School.

1. Long Shots and Extreme Long Shorts

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

What is Long Shot?

A long shot is a camera shot that shows the entire subject from head to toe and places that subject in relation to their surroundings.

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The long-shot is also called a “wide shot” or “full shot” and it’s used to show the relationship between characters and their environment.

Why is a long shot used?

Since long shots incorporate so much background in a scene.

They’re commonly used to establish setting, mood, and characters’ relationship to their physical space.

This is the first one of 10 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School.

What is Extreme Long Shot?

An extreme long shot (abbreviated as ELS) is a long shot that covers a wider area.

It is also known as an extreme wide shot (EWS). The shot frames the subject from a distance and focuses on its surroundings.

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Remember: In a long shot, the character is usually still noticeable in the frame. But in an ELS, it’s not always necessary to see the character.

The ELS or EWS functions best as an establishing shot, as more of the location is in the frame.

2. Overhead or Bird’s Eye Shot

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

OVERHEAD SHOT (aka Bird’s-Eye View) A high-angle shot that’s taken from directly overhead and from a distance.

The shot gives the audience a wider view and is useful for showing the direction and that the subject is moving.

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To highlight special relations, or reveal to the audience elements outside the boundaries of the character’s awareness.

The shot is often taken from a crane or helicopter.

This is the second of 10 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School.

Why Do Directors Use Overhead Shots?

Shooting vertical action within a scene.

To empower the viewer with an objective perspective.

When they want to diminish actors in the frame.

3. Medium Shots

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

Not too far, not too close.

A medium shot (“MS” on the shot list) is captured at a medium distance from the subject.

It is often used for dialogue-heavy scenes, but also depicts body language and can reveal more of the setting.

Oftentimes it will frame multiple subjects as well as a portion of the background.

An alternate and perhaps simpler way to think about this camera angle is that it shows less than a wide shot but more than a close-up.

Let’s dive into when to use this shot.

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A medium shot is often overlooked in favor of a close-up shot that captures more granular detail or a wide shot that captures more scope.

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The benefit of the medium is that it’s a happy marriage between the two.

You can capture fine details, while also achieving some scope and filling in the surroundings of your character(s).

This is the third tips of 8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

4. Closeup Shot

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School
What is Closeup Shot?

A shot taken of a subject or object at close range that shows greater detail.

The shot is tightly framed and is most often used to frame a character’s face in such a way that it fills the screen and dominates the scene.

Uses

This shot is useful for showcasing the emotions and reactions of characters or showing details on objects.

The close shot provides the viewer a detailed and intimate look at a character and is the best tool a director has for conveying a character’s emotional state of mind.

It draws us into the subject’s space and helps us understand their feelings.

You can also use a close shot to reveal details or information about objects or settings, so there is some flexibility to the shot, but by and large.

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It’s a character-focused shot that helps directors amplify the emotion of a scene.

This is the fourth tips of 8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

5. Dutch Angle Shot

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School
What is Dutch Angle Shot?

The definition is a canted angle that gives the audience a viewpoint that comes at a tilt.

The desired effect of a Dutch angle, or Dutch tilt, is as if the viewer tilts their head to one side of the other.

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Basically, the angle allows the camera to roll on its axis so the horizon is not parallel with the bottom of the frame.

Why It is Called Dutch Angle Shot?

The angle came from the German expressionist film movement.

There was an actual naval blockade, that prevented German movies made around the First World War from being exported.

So after the war ended, the rest of the world got to see the newest developments in German film, or Deutsch film.

Somewhere along the way, Deutsch became Dutch.

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Why Use a Dutch Angle?

There are lots of valid reasons to use a the angle.

In general, most filmmakers use the camera angle to evoke tension or a psychological meltdown for the characters.

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6. Over the Shoulder Shot

8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School
What is an over shoulder shot?

In film or television, an over the shoulder shot is when the camera is positioned behind one character and facing another, so the shoulder and back of the one character are facing the audience.

OTS shots establish an eye line for the audience and can drop us into an intimate point of view.

Rules of the Over the Shoulder Shot

There are never any “clear” rules for the OTS shot, but I wanted to go over some of the best practices you can incorporate with your own work.

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Our first rule is that you always want to keep the eye-line of the actor relevant.

That makes holding the camera around shoulder level unless you want to raise it and shoot from a high angle to intimidate. Or a low angle to show power.

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7. Panning Shot
8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School
What is a Pan shot?

In cinematography, a pan shot is a horizontal camera movement where the camera pivots left or right while its base remains in a fixed location.

The term “pan” comes from the word “panorama,” which describes a view so vast and grand you have to turn your head to see the entire vista.

Similarly, a camera pan expands the audience’s point of view by swiveling on a fixed point, taking in a wider view as it turns.

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3 Ways to Use Pan shot When Shooting a Film

a) To establish a location:

Since camera panning provides a larger field of view, it’s a great way to show the audience a wider perspective that wouldn’t otherwise fit into a single static shot.

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For example, in a scene where a character is stranded on a raft in the ocean, you could pan around the entire horizon to show that there is no land in sight.

b) To follow movement:

You can use pan shots to track moving subjects across the screen.

This is a “pan with” shot because the camera pans with the movement of a subject.

For instance, panning with a car as it drives off down a street or panning back and forth as a character nervously paces while talking on the phone.

c) To reveal information:

You can use camera pans to call attention to specific plot details or character information.

This type of shot is a “panto” shot because the camera move is not dependent on another moving subject.

For example, in a scene where a detective investigates a crime scene, you might show the detective leaving the room, then pan to a specific area of the crime scene to reveal a hidden clue the detective missed.

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8. Zoom Shot
8 Best Cinematography Techniques & Tips You Didn’t Learn in Film School

A zoom is technically not a camera move as it does not require the camera itself to move at all.

Zooming means altering the focal length of the lens to give the illusion of moving closer to or further away from the action.

The effect is not quite the same though.

Zooming is effectively magnifying a part of the image while moving the camera creates a difference in perspective — background objects appear to change in relation to foreground objects.

This is sometimes used for creative effect in the dolly zoom.

Zooming is an easy-to-use but hard-to-get-right feature of most cameras.

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It is arguably the most misused of all camera functions. See our camera zoom tutorial for more information.

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The Punch In

The punch in is one of those frustrating “same but different” techniques, in relation to the zoom.

Yes, they both accomplish the same objective of moving our audience closer to, or further from, a new focus.

But the method is different and the resulting emotion can be, as well. The punch-in is more direct. It literally cuts straight to the chase.

Experimentation

The zoom and punch in have similar qualities. Like most things in art, a tool’s effectiveness relies on the artist.

Experiment with each technique. Try shooting the same scene several different ways.

Find a scene with a shocking revelation or dialogue, and use various versions of the zoom and the punch in.

Does the crash zoom add weight to it or make it feel kind of hokey? Is the slow zoom too dramatic?

Does the punch in ruin the pacing of the overall scene or shake it up in a necessary way?

A dangerous approach can be having the technique you want in mind before even writing the scene.

Experiment and see which technique fits the scene best, instead of trying to shoehorn the scene into the effect.

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nand verma

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