Structure and the Camera: Camera Position


The camera’s position, angle, lens and the camera’s movement have major impact on the visual structure of every film.

Camera Position
This terms refers to the distance between the camera and the subject it is photographing. There are 3 basic position of camera:
1. Long Shot
This type of shot is used by filmmakers to put emphasis on the environment or setting and to show character’s position in relationship to a given environment.

Extreme Long Shot

Medium Long Shot

2. Medium Shot
In contrast to the long shot, the medium shots bring viewers closer to the characters while still showing some of their environment.

Medium Shot in Titanic

3. Close Up
By contrast with long and medium shots, close up stresses the characters or objects over the surrounding environment, usually for expressive or dramatic purpose.

Medium Close Up

Extreme Close up from Harry Potter

Beside those 3 basic camera position, there is what we call Establishing Shot. This shot is usually used to open a film or begin a scene.

Once the film maker chooses a camera position, the camera is typically locked down on a tripod or other type of platform in order to produce a steady image without jitter. Alternatively, rather than looking the camera down, the film maker might work with a hand-held camera. In this case, the camera operator physically holds the camera, either oh his of her shoulder or on a harness strapped to his or her body.

Source: Movies and Meaning an Introduction to film fifth edition (Pearson, Stephen Prince, 2010)

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