5 - 6 Class Periods

“TV is chewing gum for the eyes.” Frank Lloyd Wright

Lights, CAMERA, Action – Camera Shots and Angles

In this lesson, students will learn the different kinds of camera angles used in broadcast journalism and how to use these angles effectively. Students will also learn the terms and definitions of each shot.


Video: Camera Shots

Video: Rule of Thirds Video 

Student Handout: Rules of the Grid

Camera Shots, Angles and Terms

Long Shot
Used to show where you are, and can also be referred to as an establishing shot. For example, at a place, like a carnival, on top of a mountain or a living room. A long shot is also used to show large groups of people, like a group shot of everyone involved in a program or a group demonstrating for a certain cause. Finally, a long shot is used to show ALL of something, such as a large statue, building or house.

Medium Shot
A medium shot is used when it’s necessary to move in closer on what is important in the picture, cutting out unwanted people, objects or background and focusing on the subject. The medium shot also forces the audience to focus its attention to the subject and allows the audience to be directed to what is important. Examples of a medium shot could be a person talking – by using a medium shot, the audience attention will be focused on what the person is saying.

Close-Up Shot
A close-up shot is used to isolate what is important in the shot, such as faces. It also is used to enlarge something to give the audience a better look, such as a close-up of an individual cooking, or a close-up of a hand to demonstrate a manicure.

Extreme Close-Up Shot
The extreme-close shot is used to show details or small objects such as the inside of a computer mother board or a single object or person in a photograph. An extreme close-up shot can also be used to add certain effects to a production, such as someone’s eyes or mouth to focus on emotion.

Over-the-Shoulder Shot
This shot requires the camera operator to shoot the camera over a person’s shoulder to view another person, for example, the shoulder of the reporter in relation to the subject. By showing both people, the shot establishes where they are in relation to one another.

Subjective Views
A subjective view is when the camera is actually involved in the shot, i.e. the anchor talks directly into the camera as if talking to another person. The subjective view is used to make the audience feel like the talent is talking directly to him/her. This shot also creates intimacy between the talent and the audience.

Objective View
The objective view is often used during an interview. The camera is never addressed directly by the talent/interviewee, but instead looks at the interviewer, making the audience feel like an observer.

Eye-Level View
Most productions are shot at eye-level, for example, an anchor reporting the news is always shot at this view. The camera should be set at the eye-level of the talent, not at the height most comfortable for the camera operator.

High-Angle View
A high-angle view involves the camera being placed higher than eye-level, looking down at the talent. This angle is used to establish the talent in a less powerful position.

Low-Angle View
This shot involves the camera looking up towards the talent, giving the audience the impression that the talent is in a position of power.

Two-Shot View
A shot of two of something in the same picture, for example, two people talking.

Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds states than an image can be divided into nine equal parts, divided by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines are where the human eye directs its attention to. To create video with good composition, place the most important part of the picture at one of the four points.

Headroom refers to the space above the talent’s head. If there is too much or too little headroom, the talent will look unbalanced, cramped or both.

Lead Room
This simply allows space for someone or something to move, for example, a moving person or a car. Leave space for them to move rather than crowding the side of a screen.

Always be aware of what is behind talent. Background can either enhance or detract the shot, depending on what it is. For example, a dead-end sign in the background of a reporter talking about subdivision growth wouldn’t add to the story. A dead-end sign in the background of a reporter doing a story on halting growth and development would add to the story.

The same principle for background can be used for foreground. If a reporter is doing a story on spring break and fun on the beach, it would be appropriate to see students walking or swimming in beach wear in the foreground. If in the foreground two police officers were arresting an individual, the story would take on an entirely new twist (one that might be worth exploring!).

An equally weighted frame shot.

Horizontal turning of the camera

Changing the lens to a narrow-angle position (zoom-in, or close up), or to a wide-angle position (zoom-out)

Pointing the camera up or down

Moving the camera laterally via a moving camera mount

Support for the camera which allows the camera to move in all directions. To move the camera toward something is called “dolly in,” moving the camera away from something is called “dolly out”

Objectives/Knowledge Retained

Students will learn different camera angles, what they are called and the definition
Students will learn how to use these camera angles effectively in relation to shooting a newscast/story

Materials/Resources Needed:

One to three video cameras (for switching purposes)
Video Switcher
Handout Rules of the Grid

Activity: (Days 3 and 4)

Students will split up in groups of three to five and film (two minutes or less) a short interview using four different shots using the camera. Teacher will write four different shots and their definitions on a piece of paper and distribute to the groups. Students must use these shots in the exact order. The interviewer and interviewee will be two students from the group. The interview will be about what their favorite color is and why.

Anticipatory Set: (Day 1)

Write on the chalk/white board “If it bleeds it leads”
Ask students if they are familiar with the phrase “If it bleeds it leads”
Ask students if they think other aspects impact the story
Ask students how they think camera angles will impact a story
Ask students for examples of a broadcast where camera angles played a part in the story

Objective/Purpose (Day 1)

Pass out the handout. Explain to students that different shots and angles can determine the “feel” of a story. For example, using a low-angle shot can make a person appear powerful while a high-angle shot can establish a feeling of less-importance. Explain to students that they must always take into consideration how they are shooting the talent or scene.

Input (Day 2)

Tape several news stories for students to view with different shots and angles and ask the students how it establishes the feel of the story. Ask students if they think the story would have a different feel if the shots and angles were done differently.

Model (Day 2)

Hook up a camera to a monitor and ask for volunteers. Give the definition of each shot, demonstrating how to achieve the shot. Also give examples of dolly, pan, tilt and zoom. Give examples of how it could be used in a news story. If more than one camera is available, introduce switching abilities. Introduce and demonstrate how the ability of switching cameras can give you the ability to change camera angles quickly and effectively, adding depth to your broadcast and/or interview.

Check for Understanding (Day 3)

Informally throw out different shots from the handout to see if they know the definition. Show part of a news broadcast featuring several on-location stories. Ask the students what shot is being used and how it affects the story. This could over-lap into day four, depending on how in-depth you want to get.

Guided Practice (Day 4)

Ask the students to divide into groups (this will be the same group that will be doing the activity) and have them set up each shot. If there are only one or two cameras available, do the guided practice as an entire group with the majority of students participating. Tell the students that you should be able to tell what shot they are doing.

Closure (Day 5 and 6)

After the activity is completed, have all the groups present their unedited video to the class and which shots were used. Ask the groups what they would have done differently if they had been given a choice of shots used. Ask the class if the shots used impacted the feel of the story. 

Independent Practice/Enrichment

Have the students individually write which shots they would have used in the story if they would have had a choice. Ask the students to write why they would have used the shots and what they would have hoped to achieve with the shots in comparison with the assignment.

Integration into live broadcast

Students operating the camera will always be aware of the shots and camera angles used when shooting a broadcast or news story.



Additional MaterialResources and suggested reading