Band Camera Angles Assignment

This project is going to be our first look into actual filmmaking concepts. The main focus of the assignment will be composition – how to frame your subjects and move the camera to get your desired result. But first, let’s look at some basic filmmaking tips…let’s watch the Vimeo Shooting Basics video.

Video 101: Shooting Basics from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Let’s get right into composition now. There are basic shots and ways to move your camera that will help your final product look more professional and will make it easier for your audience to understand your subject and message.

From Atomic Learning’s Video Storytelling Guide:

A new take on home movies: the “grammar” of video.

In written expression, the basic building block is the word. The video equivalent of a word is a camera shot. I’ll be defining the various types of shots and showing you video examples of each soon. For now, let’s define a shot as whatever the camera records after you press the record button and before you hit pause. Using that definition, many traditional “home movies” would consist of only one or two shots, even though they might last five minutes each.

Don’t be a hoser!

That style of shooting is often referred to as the “garden hose” approach. As you water your shrubs, the water continually flows while you wave the hose nozzle from side to side, up and down, concentrating the spray here and there, making sure the whole garden gets a good soaking.

The “garden hose” video maker will stand in one spot with tape running, wave the camera from one side of the scene to the other, up and down, merrily zooming in and zooming out, trying to capture the whole scene in one shot.

If that shot were a written sentence, it would run on . . . and on . . . and on . . . . and on . . . .and on . . . . . . . . . . . .

Good writing is composed of well-chosen words, combined into thoughtful sentences and logically organized paragraphs. Good video follows a similar structure.


Please review the list of shots and their definitions.

Shots Based on Camera Position:

Extreme Long Shot/ Establishing Shot (ELS) – Used to establish the setting of a project. It might be the outside of a building or a landscape and is often the first scene in a project.

Long Shot (LS) – Shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings.

Medium Shot (MS) – A “normal” camera shot filmed from a medium distance. It usually refers to a human figure from the waist (or knees) up.

Close Up/Bust Shot (CU) – A shot taken from a close distance. Often it is a person’s head from the shoulders or neck up. It could also be a tight shot of an object that fills almost the entire frame.

Extreme Close Up (ECU) – This shot frames only part of an object in close-up detail. It might frame only a part of a human face (an eye or the mouth) or a detailed part of an object (the petal of a flower).

High Angle/ Tilt Down – The subject is filmed from above and the camera points down on the action, often to make the subject small, weak and vulnerable.

Low Angle/Tilt Down – The subject is filmed directly from below and the camera points up at the action, to make the subject appear larger, more formidable and menacing.

Over the Shoulder Shot – Framed so that the viewers have the perception that they are participating in the action by peering over the shoulder of the subject. Used most often in interviews.

Depth Shot – Creates depth in the scene by adding objects to the foreground, middle ground, and background. We see different levels of action to create a 3D effect.

Macro Shot – The camera is positioned very close to an object to show detail. You are not zooming in, but instead placing the camera very close to an object.

Dutch Angle/Unstable Horizon – The camera angle is skewed so that the horizon line is not parallel.

Shots Based on Subjects:

One Shot – Shot of a single person, maybe an interviewer or guest. Usually a medium shot or tighter.

Two Shot – Shot of two people, maybe talking to each other. Usually a medium shot or tighter.

Three Shot – A medium shot that contains three people.

Shots Based on Camera Movement:

Pan – A horizontal scan, movement, rotation or turning of the camera in one direction (to the right or left) around a fixed spot. You are standing still but the camera is moving to capture an entire panoramic scene.

Zoom In/Out – Using the zoom feature of the camera to make the subject fill more or less of the frame.

Dolly In/Out – Moving the camera to physically get closer or further from a subject. You may have the camera mounted on a dolly, or you may be walking towards or away from the subject.

Dollying Along (Tracking) – The camera is moving along beside the subject. You may have the camera mounted on a dolly, or you may be walking towards or away from the subject.

Head On – The action comes directly toward or at the camera.

Tails Away – The action moves directly away from the camera.

Major Rules of Composition

Rule of Thirds

Imagine your screen divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.  It looks kind of like a tic-tac-toe board.  You should always place important elements at the intersection of those lines.  It is also much more interesting to place any horizon lines like skies, buildings or the shore of a lake on one of the horizontal lines.


Headroom is the space between the top of the subject’s head and the top of the frame.  Usually, you want to have the subject’s eyes near the top horizontal third line of your shot.

Bad Example: In this shot, the subject’s head is way too close to the top of the frame.

Bad Example: In this shot, the subject’s head is way too close to the bottom of the frame. It gives the impression of a head floating in space.

Good Example: In this shot, the subject’s head correctly positioned along the top horizontal third line.

Lead Space or Nose Room

The amount of space between your subject and the side of the frame as they move or look towards that edge of the frame.  You don’t want the subject to get too close to the side of the frame as they look or walk in that direction…it will give the feeling that they are about to walk into a wall.

Bad Example: In this shot, the subject is way too close to the right edge of the frame.  It feels like he is going to run into the edge.

Good Example: In this shot, the subject has plenty of room to walk towards the right edge of the frame.

As A Class:

Watch the following videos that give you visual examples of the various shots and movements.

Framing and Composition Overview

Framing and Composition from Videopia on Vimeo.


Adidas Commercial

Adidas Spec Spot from Ross Ching on Vimeo.


High School Football Highlight

#25 from Allen Gabrenya on Vimeo.


Depth Shot Example – LA Highways

Running on Empty (Revisited) from Ross Ching on Vimeo.


Now that you have a good idea of the individual shots and their movements, we’ll watch the Postal Service Music Video as a class. Look for different shots and movements as you watch the video.

Your Assignment

Watch the “LEARN” video below. The first time you watch, look for different shots and movements. Then watch it a few more times and write down what shots you see and what times they occur. You’ll have to pause the video, rewind and watch it several times – it moves fast! Identify at least FIVE shots or movements and the time they occur – post your answer on Edmodo.

Your answer might look something like this – 0:57 – Pan Left

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Posted in: Assignments for Broadcasting I, Assignments for Broadcasting II |

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Lesson Plan

Lights, Camera, Action...Music: Critiquing Films Using Sight and Sound


Grades9 – 12
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeSix 60-minute class sessions
Lesson Author





Films can be much more than entertainment; they can also help students better understand themselves, their culture, and other forms of media. In this lesson, students view a scene from Good Morning, Vietnam in which the visuals and the music contradict each other. They then use a scene analysis framework to explore why the director chose the setting, camera angles, and music and what these choices do to create the scene's tone. Students reflect on the scene individually and in groups and then create their own scene to be presented to the rest of the class.

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Eken, A.N. (2002). The third eye. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46(3), 220–229.

  • The ubiquity of various kinds of media-including film, television, and recorded music-and the need for students to be able to interpret and decode them mean that educators should reconsider their definitions of literacy to include nontraditional forms of "reading."

  • To help students "read" films, teachers must help them develop the tools to deconstruct them, looking at colors, camera angles, lighting, and music. They must also encourage students to think critically and independently about the films they watch.

  • Studying films helps students develop a variety of skills that affect their learning in other areas including synthesis and evaluation, proficiency in media literacy, and real-life critical thinking.

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Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).



Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.



Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.



Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.



Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


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Resources & Preparation


  • Good Morning, Vietnam, directed by Barry Levinson (1988)

  • DVD player or VCR

  • Chart paper

  • Student journals

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1.Familiarize yourself with the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Set in 1965, this film tells the story of an Air Force disc jockey who has been flown in from another assignment to a post at the center of the conflict in Saigon. Soldiers who listen to his program love it, but one of his superior officers would prefer that the radio show be censored.

The segment chosen for this lesson is the one in which the disc jockey, played by Robin Williams, plays the song "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong on his radio show while images of everyday life in wartime Vietnam, many of them violent, play across the screen.

2.Obtain a copy of the film and a VCR or DVD player for your classroom. You'll want to set up the film at the beginning of the scene, which ends when the song finishes.

3.Make copies of Camera Angles: Close-Ups and Long Shots, Script Guidelines, Presentation Guidelines, and the lyrics of "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong for the students to use during the lesson. Make two copies of the Scene Analysis Framework for each student in the class.

4.Make sure that students have permission to use the Internet, following your school policy. If you need to, reserve a session in your school's computer lab. (See Session 3.)

5.Familiarize yourself with An Introduction to Film Sound and Designing a Movie for Sound. Bookmark these websites on your classroom or lab computers.

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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • Use their critical thinking skills to develop a new vocabulary for discussing and critiquing films

  • Develop evaluative and analytic skills by applying this new terminology to a scene in both classroom discussions and writing

  • Become more media literate by exploring how film texts are constructed and how camera angles and music impact a viewer's experience

  • Synthesize what they have learned by outlining a scene of their own and presenting it to the class

  • Participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical persons in respectful dialogue with one another during class discussions and while working in cooperative groups

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Session 1

1.Begin the session by activating students' prior knowledge about films. Questions for discussion might include:

  • What is the last film you saw?

  • What impressed you the most about it? Why?

  • What is the best film you have ever seen? What about it makes it the best?
You might choose to have these questions written on chart paper or the board and to record student responses.

2.Introduce the term cinematography. Ask students for a definition working towards the following: The art of using a camera to record visual images on film for the cinema. Cinematography is an art form because it involves making decisions about how a shot is framed and how long it lasts. Other aspects of cinematography include sound, lighting, camera angles, and the scenery and costumes.

3.Talk a little bit about the significance of cinematography. Ask students what cinematographic techniques were used in their favorite film that they think made it appealing.

4.Distribute the copies of Camera Angles: Close-Ups and Long Shots and give students time to read it.

5.After 15 minutes, reorganize the class into groups of 3 or 4 and ask students to answer the following questions, based on what they have just read:

  • How would they place the camera if they were filming the class right now?

  • What effect would they like to create? Why?
6.Ask students to sketch the scenes they have just described, providing them with paper and pencils if necessary. They can refer to the Camera Angles sheet while they are working. Ask them to keep their sketches for later use.

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Session 2

1.Have students get into their groups from Session 1. Explain that you will show them a short segment of the film Good Morning, Vietnam, providing a brief plot synopsis of the movie for students who have not seen it. Explain that they will watch the segment without the sound, which will give them the opportunity to first focus on the visuals (i.e., the setting, objects, characters, mood of the scene, and camera angles).

2.Distribute copies of the Scene Analysis Framework, which students will complete in their groups after they have watched the segment.

3.Have students watch the segment without sound. After this, ask them to work on the Scene Analysis Framework in their groups. Students should discuss the questions and then collaboratively write the answers to the questions. Replay the scene if students request it as they are working.

4.After students have completed the Scene Analysis Framework, ask them to assign a speaker to report their answers to the questions to the rest of the class. Students should listen as each presenter reads the group responses, but can then question the group about their answers. After each group has had a chance to respond, ask students to compare the answers; record similarities and differences on the board or a piece of chart paper.

Note: Ask students to hold onto their Scene Analysis Framework sheets as they will use them during the next session.

Homework: Ask students to reflect on the following questions in their journals:

  • What have you learned today?

  • What do you think is the effect of music in a movie?

  • Think of a movie where the music played an important role. Why was it important? What did music do in this film?

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Session 3

Note: Students will use computers for part of this session so, if necessary, you should conduct it in the computer lab.

1.Use the questions students answered in their journals as a starting point to begin a discussion about music in movies. You might want to write the questions on a piece of chart paper or on the board and record student responses, including a list of movies where music played an important role.

2.Explain that sound is another important aspect of cinematography, which can be used to give a story a certain mood or feeling. You might want to have some examples (such as the theme from Jaws, Psycho, or Out of Africa and the way they are used in these films) ready to share with students.

3.Ask students to visit the Designing a Movie for Sound and An Introduction to Film Sound and take notes about the new information they have learned.

4.Have students get into their groups and ask them to discuss the following questions:

  • You recently watched a segment from Good Morning, Vietnam without sound to help you concentrate on the visuals. Now, according to what you have just read, what sounds do you think will be used to accompany the scene?

  • If you were going to choose a song or type of instrumental music to play during the scene, what would you choose?
Ask students who have seen the movie to refrain from revealing what is played during this scene. Tell each group that they should come to a consensus about the song or music they think should be used.

5.After about 10 minutes, ask each group to share the song or type of instrumental music they have chosen to accompany the scene. Then show the segment with the sound. When students have finished watching, distribute copies of "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. Let them read the lyrics and think for a moment. Then ask students to compare the song with the songs and music they chose for the scene. How is it different or the same?

6.Explain to students that the director of Good Morning, Vietnam made a conscious choice when he selected this song-he could have picked any number of Vietnam-era protest songs that angrily decried the war. He could have chosen folk music. Or he could have chosen somber instrumental music. Ask students to consider why the director chose this song instead. Questions for discussion include:

  • What is the theme of the song?

  • What is the theme or mood of the scene it accompanies?

  • How would their reaction to the scene be different with a different song or instrumental music?
If students don't mention the word irony during this discussion, you might want to introduce the term and explain how the director is using it (i.e., the words of the song convey the opposite sentiment of the images that appear while it is played). Students may be interested to see that a term they are familiar with in literature can also be applied in a critical discussion about film.

7.Ask students to go back to their groups and work again on the Scene Analysis Framework, changing or adding to their answers now that they have seen the segment with sound. They might also add some questions about music.

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Session 4 and 5

1.Ask students to get into their groups and explain that they will use the sketches they created during Session 1 to write a segment of a film. Distribute the Script Guidelines and review them, explaining that these are what you will use to assess their completed scenes. Students should use these guidelines to write a scene description, which should include:

  • An outline of the movie that the scene is an excerpt from (i.e., Is it a "day-in-the-life" documentary film about the school? A horror film where students are decimated by a monster? A romance? A comedy?)

  • A synopsis of the scene explaining what is happening

  • The overall mood they are trying to achieve in the scene

  • The objects or characters that will be included in the scene and what they are doing

  • Their proposed camera angles and why they choose to use them (they should revise their sketches and include them with the description)

  • The songs or instrumental music that will accompany the scenes
2.Distribute the Presentation Guidelines, which students will use to present their scenes to the entire class and which you will use to evaluate their presentations.

3.Students should work on their scenes for the remainder of this session and Session 5.

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Session 6

Students will present their work to the class during this session. At the end of each presentation, ask students to analyze the scene using the Scene Analysis Framework as a guide. Collect the scene outlines at the end of this session.

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  • If you have access to film equipment, have students film their scenes.

  • There are a number of images in the scene from Good Morning, Vietnam that contradict the lyrics of the song; ask students to identify them using the interactive Venn diagram.

  • Have students visit MRQE (The Movie Review Query Engine), which allows them to enter film names and access numerous reviews. Ask them to look at various reviews and analyze how they are written before they write their own review of the film they selected as their favorite during Session 1.

  • Have students choose a movie or a movie segment and write an essay analyzing it using the Essay Map as a prewriting tool.

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  • Informally assess student comprehension of camera angles and the use of music in film, their ability to use new terminology, and their evaluative skills during presentations and classroom discussions in Sessions 1, 2, and 3.

  • Use the Script Guidelines to assess the scene outlines; students should have answered all of the questions in their outlines and should offer a rationale for their responses.

  • Use the Presentation Guidelines to assess the presentations.

  • Ask students to reflect on what they have learned from the lesson in their journals. They can do this freely or using the following prompts:

    • List at least one way you view films differently as a result of this lesson.

    • Have you enjoyed sharing your opinions and ideas with your classmates? Why or why not?

    • How did creating your own film segment help you to understand movies better?

  • You might then choose to collect student journals or use these prompts to conduct a class discussion about the lesson.

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Related Resources


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

3-2-1 Vocabulary: Learning Filmmaking Vocabulary by Making Films

Bring the vocabulary of film to life through the processes of filmmaking. Students learn terminology and techniques simultaneously as they plan, film, and edit a short video.


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Grades   3 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  February 20

Actor Sidney Poitier was born in 1924.

Students do a journal entry about barriers that have been broken,such as age, race, and gender, that might impede them in the future, and how they can break through those barriers.


Grades   5 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  October 6

The Jazz Singer debuted on this day in 1927.

Students think about the sound in a movie they have seen multiple times. Then students predict what sounds they expect to hear in a short scene from a film with the sound turned down.


Grades   5 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  November 8

In 1847, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula was born.

Students brainstorm the superstitions they know and small groups research one of the superstitions to determine its origin and meaning or purpose. Students can write about the superstition using the Mystery Cube interactive.


Grades   5 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  May 16

The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929.

Students make lists of their favorite and least favorite movies and brainstorm qualities that make a film good or bad. Next, students write a movie review for a film they have seen.


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Grades   3 – 5  |  Activity & Project

Read All About It: Neighborhood News

Children enjoy sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions in talking with others. Encourage them to write these down and more to share in a neighborhood newspaper!


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