GoPro Cameras: Shot Lingo for Your Movies

By John Carucci

With your little wonder camera, you can use classic visual elements to create a compelling film — GoPro style. Great filmmaking weaves different shot types throughout a story. The different sizes at which you depict a subject in the frame help create a visual narrative.

Here’s an in-depth description of various shot types:

  • Long shot: Some people call this shot an extreme wide-angle shot, but I call it the result of using your GoPro like a conventional camera. This expansive shot establishes an overall view of the setting and is often used as the first shot in the edit. It’s not always necessary to include actors; a wide landscape with few identifiable subjects qualifies for this type of shot.

  • Very wide shot: This shot isn’t as expansive as a long shot but is still pretty wide. It can also work as an establishing shot.

  • Wide shot: In the wide world of wide shots, this shot isn’t really that wide. It works well with people, presenting them from head to toe. Frequently, this shot is used to set up medium and close-up shots.

  • Medium or normal shot: This shot takes a more distinct view of the subject, showing more of him than in a wide shot and much less than in a close-up — perhaps from the waist up. If you shoot from a higher angle, you can make the subject look like a bobblehead doll, with his head being much larger than the rest of his body.

  • Two shot: This shot shows interaction between two subjects: a conversation or confrontation. Sometimes, the subjects are shown full-figure; at other times, they’re shown from the waist up.

  • Medium close-up: One way to think of it is as the close-up for people who don’t like close-ups. This shot captures a person’s entire face, with a little bit of her neck and chest. If the subject is an object instead of the person, the object can loosely fill the frame. Often, this shot is the closest you’re going to get to a subject with a GoPro without totally distorting that subject.

  • Close-up: This shot is pretty close, and some people may not like you coming this close. The frame shows the subject from the neck up. It shows the head, hair, and face but not pores and blemishes.

  • Extreme close-up: This shot shows lots of detail on inanimate objects, but you may get hit with an object if you try to use this shot on a human with your GoPro.

  • Point of view: This shot shows the scene as the subject sees it (see the figure) and makes for a great selection of shots for editing. Many GoPro mounts help you achieve this type of shot.

    [Credit: Copyright cwistockphoto.com/piola666 Image #37074252]

    Credit: Copyright cwistockphoto.com/piola666 Image #37074252
  • Cutaway: All sorts of productions, from news broadcasts and documentaries to feature films and reality television programs, use this device. Generally, it has little to do with the story; it merely helps set the scene.

  • Cut in: This shot shows details such as the subject’s cracking his knuckles, picking up a glass, or tapping his fingers.