The Close-Up Shot in Videography and Cinematography

The close-up is probably the most important and most common shot in video and film. It’s extremely common, and it’s certainly one of the fundamental camera angles to practice.

In this video, I demonstrate several different types of close-up shots. I cover what they’re called, how you can identify them, and when you might use them.

I hope it’s helpful!

23 thoughts on “The Close-Up Shot in Videography and Cinematography

  1. Your videos and instructions are so valuable to many levels of video enthusiasts and professionals.
    Thanks much for the free…

  2. Rob, i was thinking the same thing. Izzy got a copter. Izzy why did you choose this one over the phantom?

    and this was another good video.

  3. Thank you Izzy…learned again something new today…thanks! But what about that new copter you have?!!! Let us in on it sometime!!!

  4. Great info here, thanks! Often I’m in the situation of shooting video interview on a tight budget and have the camera locked down, say in a medium close-up. I’d like to be able to crop the image in editing to give the video more interest – as if there was another camera shot. I’ve tried asking the subject to repeat something while I tighten up the shot but it rarely comes out with same emotion. Of course I’m aware of b-roll but not always possible. Any tips for shooting interviews single camera/one man band and adding visual interest to shots? Thanks, Izzy!

    1. Bea — I’m not sure I’ll recommend anything here that you haven’t already tried, but just in case, I’ll give a few tips:

      * Without a doubt, it’s best to have a 2nd camera shooting a different angle. This by far gives you the most flexibility.

      * The “cut and scale up” option you mentioned softens the image, so it’s not ideal. Also, it’s from the same angle — just scaled up — so it’s not very convincing.

      * You can try changing the frame between questions. For example, they finishing answering a question, and before you ask your next you, you push in for a tighter shot. Then you ask your next question and let them answer. Later in post, you can cut from one angle to another and hide the cut with a cut-away or some sort of B-roll. This is probably the best option for the situation, but you need to be fast and making the change while shooting because you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the interview.

      * Also, you might want to try shooting close-ups instead of medium close-ups. My taste is to use mediums if I have a second camera, but if I can shoot only one angle, it’s going to be a traditional close-up.

      Definitely the best option is to have a second camera. :)

      Anyway, I hope that helps.

  5. I finally got to view your video on the close up shot, and found it interesting. Six names for close ups who knew.
    I did however find it interesting when you were talking about your hex copter
    you referred to the shot as wide angle although the camera shot was actually closer than in your medium close up (mcu). You were standing to the side to keep the copter in the shot, so it appears that there is more involved with a mcu shot than the distance from the camera or you should rethink the use of the term wide angle. It would appear that the use of mcu would still be applicable in the copter shot.

  6. Hi Izzy,

    Just to echo all the above positive comments from a follower in the UK! Great, easily understood, clear and informative – what more do you need (or we want!),



  7. Very good point regards close up. There is a very good film on DVD to watch this example. Try and watch the FISTFUL OF DOLLAR Movies.

  8. Thank you, Izzy for your persistently clear instructions. Regarding copters, I placed an order for a new — ultimately failed offering — copter several years ago . During the time that we waited for the device to get to the manufacturing stage, we learned that the Feds have us in a zone (in the Southeast Chicago/Northwest Indiana corridor) where they limit the use of such devices tremendously, because of all the flight lanes in and out of the city. So, we never got the copter — which didn’t make it into manufacturing, anyway. But it broke my heart, because I had hoped to use it as my “mobile crane shooter” to get above uncontrollable crowds we struggle against in the many outdoor settings that we record. (We’re wondering, now, whether any of the large water birds that frequent the region might be trained to fill in for a copter . . . :-)

  9. Great information, as always. I second all the comments made so far. I depend on your training videos for video and editing. And go back for “re-runs” when I need help.


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