November 13, 2014


Framing your shot is an important aspect in how you, as a filmmaker, tell your story to the audience. Framing gives you the opportunity to manipulate shot composition, sizes, angles, and perception to enhance your storytelling ability. Once you become familiar with these common framing shots, you’ll be able to combine them with the different types of camera angles to greatly enhance your film.

You’ll also need to know shot composition and framing when creating your shot list before the production begins. This will allow your crew to have a general idea of what shots to expect when setting up the scene on the day of production.

The 6 Basic Framing Shots for Filmmaking

Wide/Long Shot (WIDE): A Wide or Long Shot helps to establish the environment around a specific character or object. It also reveals to the audience where that character or object is positioned in accordance to that environment.

Medium Wide Shot (MEDWIDE):  Usually framed from the waist up and is useful when more than one character is in frame. The Medium Wide Shot also helps to establish the environment around a specific individual while allowing the audience to see basic bodily movements and gestures.

Medium Shot (MED): Similar to a Medium Wide Shot, the Medium Shot is framed from the waist up and allows the audience to be a little closer to the subject, while still seeing the environment around the individual.

Medium Close­-Up (MCU): The Medium Close­-Up Shot is typically framed from the chest up. This shot allows the audience to clearly see facial gestures and emotions without getting too close and personal to the subject.

Close­-Up (CU): Similar to the Medium Close­-Up, the bottom frame on a Close­-Up Shot varies from the bottom of the subject’s neck to just under the their chin. It is also acceptable to frame out the top of the subject’s head when framing a Close­-Up Shot. The Close­-Up Shot emphasizes a subject’s emotion or reaction with very little visual of the surrounding environment. This allows an audience to focus solely on the individual in the shot.

Extreme Close­-Up (ECU): Is rarely used in traditional dialogue scenes involving characters, but rather more commonly used to place an emphasis on a specific object or element. Also referred to as an Insert Shot, this type of framing is used to feature a specific object or element for only a short period of time on screen. With little to no visual of the surrounding environment, the Insert or Extreme Close­-Up Shot allows a filmmaker to focus the audience’s attention solely on the specific object or element featured in the shot.


Begin by learning these six basic framing shots so you can create an effective shot list, communicate with your crew, and have a better idea of how to compose your scene before you step on set. Remember, practice is what makes good filmmakers better.

F.I.R.S.T. Institute offers a Film and Video Production program that gives you just that. Through this program, you will learn the skills you need to start your filmmaking career. Check out the programs at F.I.R.S.T. Institute for more information today.