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It is the language of visual literacy or more specifically audio-visual literacy. Of course, there are thousands of words used by filmmakers, so I have created a simplified jumping off point to start your vocabulary.



Shot size is one of the basics of filmmaking. It means how big things are in the picture. An extreme long shot just shows the setting; long shots and mid shots show people in the setting, and closeups show details of faces and objects.


EWS - Extreme Wide Shot - A shot taken from a sufficient distance to show a landscape, a building, or a large crowd. this shot shows the setting


WS - Wide Shot - Shows one or two people in full figure or several people from the waist up.


MS - Medium Shot - Shows head to waist


MCU - Medium Close-Up chest and head


CU - Close-up - A shot of one face or object that fills the screen completely.


ECU - Extreme close-up - A shot of a small object or part of a face that fills the screen.


Cutaway - a shot of something related to but outside the main action of a scene. It's a shot that cuts away from the main action to a separate or secondary action – hence its name, cutaway.


Dutch Angle - also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle, or oblique angle, is a type of camera shot where the camera is set at an angle.


OTS - over the shoulder - is a shot of someone or something taken over the shoulder of another person, usually including a portion of the head or shoulder of that person on the edge of frame.


Camera Angles

High Angle   The camera looks down at what is being photographed.


Eye Level   A shot that approximates human vision; a camera presents an object so that the line between camera and object is parallel to the ground.

Low Angle
   The camera looks up at what is being photographed.


Camera Movement

Most shots need some kind of movement to give them life. Keep the camera still to show subtle movements;  move the camera  – pan, track or tilt – to follow the action or move through space.


Panning   The camera is fixed moves horizontally on a fixed base. Panning Camera Move Video


Tilting   The camera is fixed and moves up or down, vertically. Tilting Camera Move Video

Never say pan up or down  - pan means panorama.


Tracking The camera moves on a wheeled truck (or dolly), or is hand held, but stays on the same plane or angle. Check out the video tracking shots 1.34mins


Zoom Not a camera movement but a shift in the focal length of the camera lens to give the impression that the camera is getting closer to or farther from an object. There is a great Zoom effect in the

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Arc Shot - a shot where the camera circles its subject.


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