The Basics of Cinematography

Cinematography is the creation of motion picture images. It can involve the use of film or digital imagery, usually with a movie camera. It is closely related to the art of still photography. Many additional technical difficulties and creative possibilities arise when the camera and elements of the scene may be in motion.

Basic Shots:

VWS (Very Wide Shot)
The subject is visible (barely), but the emphasis is still on placing him in his environment.

WS (Wide Shot)
The subject takes up the full frame, or at least as much as comfortably possible.

MS (Mid Shot)
Shows some part of the subject in more detail while still giving an impression of the whole subject.

MCU (Medium Close Up)
Half way between a MS and a CU.

CU (Close Up)
A certain feature or part of the subject takes up the whole frame.

ECU (Extreme Close Up)
The ECU gets right in and shows extreme detail.

Shows some (other) part of the subject in detail.

CA (Cutaway)
A shot of something other than the subject.

A shot of two people, framed similarly to a mid shot.

(OSS) Over-the-Shoulder Shot
Looking from behind a person at the subject.

Noddy Shot
Usually refers to a shot of the interviewer listening and reacting to the subject.

Point-of-View Shot (POV)
Shows a view from the subject’s perspective.

Weather Shot
The subject is the weather. Can be used for other purposes, e.g. background for graphics.