Film Communication

Humans have been communicating with one another with pictures since they lived in caves in the Palaeolithic Age about 25,000 years ago. Throughout the centuries painters have  strode to master the art of depicting the world as they see it, around them, spending considerable years studying the work of other artists and several hours perfecting their own canvases to make them seem to live and move. There is a new art form- moving pictures!

Since Edison got film working around the 1890s a new dynamic has been added – the images are no longer stationary. The people working in moving pictures in many lands for the best part of a century  have have evolved a set of principles of putting shots together which appear to succeed in communicating coherently with millions of people, speaking many languages, who the film-maker never meets. The language of film-making is universal.

We know story-telling using moving pictures is more of an art than a science, yet it is possible to formalise the shots that are used and the most effective ways to put them together. To know these principles is no limitation on what a person may do with the camera, but it is of course, useful common ground for all moving picture camera users.

Of course some of the filming camera shots are so well known that the public know their names – the Close-Up for instance.

Conventional Shots

The shots that cameramen are taught to be able to put instantly on screen when called for are:

  • LS –    Long Shot – A balanced Long Shot shows a person full lengnth.
  • MLS- Medium Long Shot
  • MS-   Medium Shot (or Mid Shot) – Half length shot of a person, it tells us more about their appearance.
  • MCU- Medium Close Up (often referred as Close Shot (CS)
  • CU-    Close Up – Collar of shirt to top of the head or in some cases cutting top of the head.


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