Viewers derive meaning from the visual cues in video and film. That’s why camera placement during filming is pivotal when creating an impactful story.
Once production wraps, videographers whittle down raw footage into the final project’s first form. Editing savvy can work wonders when integrating visual effects, sound effects, and music into a project. But if the camera shots used don’t capture scenes in the right way, emotional arcs fall flat and important elements lose significance.
Reshooting is rarely a feasible option, which is why it’s important to use the right camera and get the right shots on the first go-around.
In the same way that writers manipulate language, videographers manipulate the viewer’s perspective through camera shots. From close-up shots that enhance minute details to extreme wide shots that emphasize location, camera placement alone communicates a lot.
YouTubers with niche specialties — i.e., travel, lifestyle, music, tech — can use a variety of camera shots to add dramatic and cinematic effects to video. Adjusting camera placement is among the best ways to create visual intrigue and keep your viewers hooked.
In this post, you’ll learn which shots are most valuable for YouTubers and how you can integrate them into your videos.
The Shot List For Your YouTube Video
A video concept becomes tangible during production and fine-tuned during post-production. Though you may approach producing YouTube videos differently than another creator, the overall process is relatively unchanged.
However, not spending enough time planning for a shoot can slow a video’s progress. A shot list template is a tool that creators use to visualize and organize the different shots needed for any type of project. This is a space where you can break down the specific b-roll shots, stock video, and main footage that will blend together in the editing process.
Depending on the video content you publish on YouTube, you may favor certain types of shots over others when filling out a shot list.
As a travel vlogger, you might plan for more extreme wide shots than close-ups in order to emphasize the significance of the beautiful locations you visit. As a tech vlogger, you may plan for more medium and close-up shots to center yourself on a viewer’s screen for product reviews and conversational content.
It’s easy to forget which shots you need to capture when you’re in the middle of a shoot. The shot list serves as your guide during the filming process, so you can stay on schedule and capture the right footage.
When it comes down to the best camera shots for your footage, there are many top contenders.
Camera Shots Every YouTuber Needs To Know About
1. The Establishing Shot
Establishing shots are commonly characterized as wide introductory views of a specific location. This type of shot can be used as a lead-in to a new setting right before the action begins. Creators can even show the passing of time through subtle, or not-so-subtle, changes in scenery.
For example, a travel vlogger might include a new establishing shot in the opening of each of their YouTube videos to set the scene for where they've visited.
Here's a supercut of establishing shots you might remember from film:
2. The Close-Up Shot
Creators use close-up shots to bring the viewer’s focus to a specific subject — oftentimes, a person’s face. In your YouTube video, this type of shot is great for conveying emotion and eliciting a corresponding response from the viewer.
Viewers take their cues from the subject of a close-up shot. If the subject is a person who appears to be vulnerable or distressed, viewers will respond differently than if the person makes a humorous facial expression. One type of close-up evokes a feeling of sympathy while the other is intended to make viewers laugh.
An intensified version of the close-up shot is the extreme close up shot, which can simulate a feeling of chaos in high action scenes.
3. The Medium Shot
As seen with close-up shots, a person’s proximity to the camera can impact the emotional intensity of viewers' response. When talking conversationally to viewers, YouTubers often use medium shots to put themselves at a comfortable distance from the camera.
With a medium shot, a person and their surroundings are both visible within the frame. This type of shot emphasizes the person or subject in view rather than the setting.
An alternative is the cowboy shot, a pretty specific medium shot that frames the subject in a "heroic" way.
For collaborations with other YouTubers, you might use a medium long shot instead to widen the frame.
4. The Overhead Shot
To achieve an overhead shot, the camera is angled downward and physically distanced from the person or subject in view. As a result, viewers may also feel distanced from what is happening in the video.
The main difference between overhead shots and aerial shots is the amount of distance between the camera and the subject. Aerial shots are captured at extreme heights, but this isn’t necessarily the case for overhead shots.
5. The Extreme Wide Shot
Extreme wide shots emphasize location as far more significant than the subject or person in view. The camera is placed at a distance to achieve this type of perspective. Oftentimes, this shot is intended to overwhelm viewers’ senses by inciting feelings of dread, isolation, or solitude.
However, extreme wide shots can also have the opposite effect on viewers. An expansive view of a natural setting may fill the viewer with a feeling of profound stillness, comfort, and tranquility. Here are a few famous examples:
6. The Tracking Shot
With tracking shots, videographers move the camera toward the subject or person in view. You might use a tracking shot in your YouTube video to lead viewers’ eyes closer to something or someone of significance. For travel vloggers, the camera movement might track toward a famous landmark or attraction.
Because the camera moves toward a focal point, multiple types of shots are technically required to create a tracking shot.
Alternating Between Camera Shots
Every creative decision throughout planning, filming, and post-production is deliberately made to improve the quality of your video’s final form. YouTubers can enhance the cinematic appearance of their videos by matching the right camera shot to the desired effect.
Though you may plan for a shoot and create a detailed shot list, logistical issues are inevitable. If you don’t have the equipment to capture the type of shot you want, a solution might be to integrate stock video into your project.
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