Lately my mind has been on video. Maybe it's because Digital Media Camp - a fantastic example of project-based learning in action - is coming up again next year. Or maybe it's because we just discussed the importance of project-based learning in a meeting with a local school superintendent. Whatever the reason, when students embark on a project that includes video, they should know about some basic shots and when to use them. As I mentioned in a previous post on video composition, almost anyone has access to some kind of video camera in our modern age. The following is an excerpt from my book, Educational Technology for Teachers.
In order to put forth a clear message in video, different types of camera shots should be used. There are three main types of camera shots that can be used in a video production; wide, medium and close up (Spannaus, 2012). The wide shot – sometimes called the long shot – is used to show an entire object or human body, along with some of the setting or background. This shot shows the relationship between the object or body and the scene in which they are placed. Wide shots are often shown at the beginning of a scene to give the audience a sense of the spatial relationship between important aspects of the scene. They establish a sense of place and orient the viewer to the setting of the video.
The next type of camera shot is the medium shot. This shot is closer in than a wide shot and shows part of a subject in more detail. A medium shot would show about half of a human body but may show more or less than this. Medium shots are used to show more detail than a wide shot but still include hand gestures, movement, and other important actions.
Another important camera shot is the close up. In a close-up shot, only a certain feature of the subject takes up most of the frame. Details of the included feature are clear in a close up shot. The most common element featured in a close up shot is a person's face. Such close ups can show feelings, so close ups are vital for dramatic sequences. Close ups are also used to highlight steps or methods in educational and training videos.
Using a variety of different types of shots can enhance the quality of a video production in project-based learning because the different shots help to put forth a clear message. Wide shots can establish a sense of location, close up shots can provide detail on procedures or concepts and medium shots can capture everything in between.