Creating Camera Shots

Camera Shots

When creating a storyboard for film, it is imperative that the images reflect the script. Motion is central to these images: the motions of the characters and objects within the scene, as well as the motion of the camera observing it.

Instead of bogging down the description box with tedious details of every action, let the image communicate the motion of a scene. Arrows are a simple and recognizable way to show motion or progression. This board covers some common uses of arrows:

Camera Arrows
Camera Arrows

Plan Your Camera Shots*

Camera and Action Cues Glossary

Pan Left Arrows on the top and bottom of the cell pointing left indicate that the camera should move horizontally to the left.
Pan Right Arrows on the top and bottom of the cell pointing right indicate that the camera should move horizontally to the right.
Zoom In Four inward pointing arrows signal for the camera to zoom in. Encompassing the whole scene illustrates zooming into the center. *The four arrows can be placed in any part of the scene to suggestion zoom on a particular area*
Zoom Out Four outward pointing arrows signal for the camera to zoom out.
Tilt Up Curved arrows on the side pointing up instruct the camera to be tilted upward in angle.
Tilt Down Curved arrows on the side pointing down instruct the camera to be tilted downward in angle.
Rotate Depending upon the direction of the area this symbol denotes which way the camera should rotate.
Miscellaneous Camera motions typically fall near the edge of the cell while object motion symbols are inside and near a specific object. These are free form arrows and drawings that show the path of a specific item in the frame or its action.

When showing motion in the context of the scene, illustrate the path of the movement. This is especially helpful for illustrating a unique walking style, or the specific path of an object. Below are various ways arrows can directly express the movements of a character or object, as opposed to those of the camera. Change the color of the arrows to make them stand out.

Object and Character Motion
Object and Character Motion

Plan Your Camera Shots*

Camera Shots

Different views and arrangements of objects and characters present depth, balance, and focus in a storyboard. These views, or shots, vary depending on the action and purpose of a cell. Here is a helpful guide to different camera shots that can be achieved in Storyboard That with simple tools like cropping, layering, and positioning.

Establishing Shot This is a cell used solely to convey setting and position in the story. Establishing shots commonly open a film, or transition the plot to a different location.
Full Shot This is a zoomed in version of the establishing shot, usually showing an important character or object. The setting still occupies a significant portion of the cell, but other content is shown.
Mid Shot The character or object is the focal point, with very little background.
Close-Up The camera is zoomed in; the character or object occupies all of the space.
Extreme Close-Up The shot focuses on the face of a character or a significant detail of an object, excluding everything else. This imparts crucial details or emotions.

The following example shows how these shots can be used, the impact each has on the story, and what it conveys to the viewer. Always consider what information you want to highlight, and how much the viewer should see.

Camera Shots
Camera Shots

Plan Your Camera Shots*

Establishing Shot: There is a house. The weather is cloudy and raining.

Full Shot: There is a little girl standing by the door of the house, in the rain.

Mid shot: There is a very unhappy girl standing by the door of the house, in the rain.

Close up: There is a very wet, unhappy girl standing by the door of the house, in the rain.

Extreme close up: There is a very wet, unhappy girl crying. It is raining.

Each shot displays a different level of information. It is important to establish what range of detail you want to convey in a cell.

Shots and Motion

All of these concepts are integrated in effective storyboards. The storyboard below is about a man, Clark, who is picking up his date, Adele, to attend a fancy party.

Cinematic Direction
Cinematic Direction

Plan Your Camera Shots*

This is a potential film storyboard, made with Storyboard That, perfect for sharing with writers, actors, crew, and investors. Notice how the variety in shots, the motion lines, and the camera cues all blend into the story, almost adding movement? All of these elements together provide a glimpse into your head - how you see the story.

Experiment with different variations for best result!

Please see our Film Page for more resources.
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