Shooting basics

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Improving your video shoot

There are many ways to improve our video productions, beginning with shooting the raw footage.

  1. Always use a tripod
  2. Use lights (or open curtains to allow maximum light)
  3. Avoid digital zoom
  4. Avoid excessive panning and tilting

If these basic rules are followed, time and effort will be saved when it comes to editing your piece together, and will maximise your overall production quality.

Video 101: Shooting Basics

Basic shot types:

Depending on the type of production, budget and time constraints, you may only find it necessary to use a couple of shot types only, however if time permits, more shot types utilised correctly can add a lot more visual interest and professionalism to your production.

Below are different framing shot types and examples to assist with your video development.

Extremely wide shot (EWS) Extremely Wide Shot Subject is not visible. Used to establish geographical/ locational context.
Very Wide Shot (VWS) Very wide shot The subject is visible (barely). Used to establish the subject(s) place in the environment/ location.
Wide Shot (WS) EWS shot The subject's entirely in shot Where the vision of the subject(s) full body is required for a particular purpose: convey size / show body language etc.
Mid Shot (MS) Mid shot Shot shows most of the subject in frame

E.g., the whole torso, arms and head of the person.
Where the full body is not necessary. More detail is visible that in a wide shot without losing the general impression of the whole subject.
Medium Close Up (MCU) Mid close up shot Half way between a mid-shot and a close up – usually upper torso and head of the person. More detail is visible again than in the mid shot.
Close up (CU) Close up shot Where a certain feature of part of the subject takes up the majority of the frame. To draw the viewer's attention to a particular feature or part of the subject.
Extreme Close Up (ECU) Extreme Close Up Where the camera is closely zoomed in and focused on a particular object/feature etc. High level detail is visible. The viewer's attention is focused on the detail in shot.

Rule of thirdsRule of thirds

This rule is possibly the most well-known photographic principle; it allows for a more balanced and visually interesting composition for both video and still photography.

  • Avoid centring your subject in the frame.
  • Ensure the horizontals are level and the verticals are straight up and down.
  • Roughly align the points of interest that you're shooting with these lines in the view finder.
  • For shots with movement, place the subject in the first or last third of the viewfinder to make the shot more visually interesting, and to give the subject room within the shot to move into/towards.


A common mistake made when shooting video is to give the subject far too much headroom, resulting in a poorer composition and wasted space. Any shot tighter than a MS (Mid-shot), there should be very little headroom.

Zooming and panning

  • Avoid overusing the zoom as constant zooming in and out can be difficult to watch.
  • If zooming is necessary, attempt where possible to edit it out in post.
  • Always use a light indoors. Fluorescent lighting is not adequate enough to give accurate colours and detail.
  • Also, shooting into the sun will silhouette the subject – a nice technique for adding dramatic interest, however it's not recommended for interview / demonstration type shots.
  • Avoid panning back and forth (eg left to right then back again) and avoid over-panning.