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Film and Media Studies

Film and Media

Main Shot Sizes

Long, Medium, and Close. Long shots (also commonly called Wide shots) show the subject from a distance, emphasizing place and location, while Close shots reveal details of the subject and highlight emotions of a character. Medium shots fall somewhere in between, putting emphasis on the subject while still showing some of the surrounding environment.

Extreme Long Shot

Extreme Long Shot (aka Extreme Wide Shot)- Used to show the subject from a distance, or the area in which the scene is taking place. This type of shot is particularly useful for establishing a scene (see Establishing Shot later in the article) in terms of time and place, as well as a character’s physical or emotional relationship to the environment and elements within it. The character doesn’t necessarily have to be viewable in this shot.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Long Shot

Long Shot (aka Wide Shot)- Shows the subject from top to bottom; for a person, this would be head to toes, though not necessarily filling the frame. The character becomes more of a focus than an Extreme Long Shot, but the shot tends to still be dominated by the scenery. This shot often sets the scene and our character’s place in it. This can also serve as an Establishing Shot, in lieu of an Extreme Long Shot.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Full Shot

Full Shot- Frames character from head to toes, with the subject roughly filling the frame. The emphasis tends to be more on action and movement rather than a character’s emotional state.

 Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Medium Long Shot

Medium Long Shot (aka 3/4 Shot)- Intermediate between Full Shot and Medium Shot. Shows subject from the knees up.


Cowboy Shot

Cowboy Shot (aka American Shot)- A variation of a Medium Shot, this gets its name from Western films from the 1930s and 1940s, which would frame the subject from mid-thighs up to fit the character’s gun holsters into the shot.

Cowboys & Aliens

Medium Shot

Medium Shot- Shows part of the subject in more detail. For a person, a medium shot typically frames them from about waist up. This is one of the most common shots seen in films, as it focuses on a character (or characters) in a scene while still showing some environment.

The Hunger Games

Medium Close-Up

Medium Close-Up- Falls between a Medium Shot and a Close-Up, generally framing the subject from chest or shoulder up.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?


Close Up- Fills the screen with part of the subject, such as a person’s head/face. Framed this tightly, the emotions and reaction of a character dominate the scene.

X-Men: Apocalypse


Choker- A variant of a Close-Up, this shot frames the subject’s face from above the eyebrows to below the mouth.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Extreme Close Up

Extreme Close Up- Emphasizes a small area or detail of the subject, such as the eye(s) or mouth. An Extreme Close Up of just the eyes is sometimes called an Italian Shot, getting its name from Sergio Leone’s Italian-Western films that popularized it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Two Shot

Two Shot- This is a medium shot that shows two characters within the frame. Pretty straight-forward but can be pivotal in establishing relationships between the characters.

Star Trek


Cutaway- A shot of something other than the subject and away from the main scene. It is usually followed by a cut back to the first shot and is useful for avoiding a jump cut when editing down a section of dialogue, or editing together two separate takes.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire


Cut-In- Similar to a Cutaway, but shows a Close-Up shot of something visible in the main scene.

Back to the Future

Establishing Shot

Establishing Shot- Usually the first shot of a scene, this is used to establish the location and environment. It can also be used to establish mood and give the audience visual clues regarding the time (night/day, year) and the general situation. Because they need to provide a great deal of information, Establishing Shots are usually Extreme Long Shots or Long Shots.

Master Shot

Master Shot- A Term given to a single, uninterrupted shot of a scene. This shot can be the only shot used by a director to cover a scene, or edited together with additional shots. While it’s commonly a Long or Full Shot, a Master Shot can be a closer shot, or consist of multiple shot types if the camera is moving throughout the scene.

Point of View Shot

Point of View Shot (POV)- A Shot intended to mimic what a particular character in a scene is seeing. This puts the audience directly into the head of the character, letting them experience their emotional state. Common examples are of a character waking up, drifting into unconsciousness, or looking through a scope or binoculars.

Monsters, Inc.

Reaction Shot

Reaction Shot- Shows a character’s reaction to the shot that has preceded it.

The Avengers

Reverse Angle Shot

Reverse Angle Shot- A shot taken from an angle roughly 180 degrees opposite of the previous shot. The term is commonly used during conversation, indicating a reverse Over-the-Shoulder Shot, for example.