M.A.(JMC) PART-II/Semester-III
Lesson No. : 8
Author : Amarpreet Singh
Basic Television Production Techniques
Composition is an arrangement of various visual elements in a given compositional
space giving emphasis on the objects of interest.
The goal of composition is to create an image that is attractive or that captures and
keeps the audience’s attention and effectively communicates the message. It is a
way of arranging various elements so that the viewer is directly attracted to certain
features. You can influence how viewers respond to what they are seeing. The
image can be composed to create calm or can even make you restless. Sometimes
well composed image can make you think. One thing that is very clear that the
message must be conveyed through the image. Is your photograph justified? What
you want to tell? Otherwise that image would be of no use. In the same way
In the above illustration, a beautiful bungalow is located in front of the coconut trees
and in front of the bungalow, there is a sea shore. All the elements in the image look
aesthetic and increase the relevance of bungalow.
So, it depends what we want to depict. A little change in the composition can make
a huge difference. Even the meaning of the composition would be changed.
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In the above illustration, there is a small steamer in front of the ship; that depicts the
ship very huge. No doubt ship is huge but a small steamer makes the huge
In the above illustration clouds behind the building adds aesthetics to the
A Frame is the smallest unit of film. Each shot is made up of many frames. Films
are shot on 24 frames per second, while in TV production we work on 25 frames
per second. In India PAL (Phase Alternating Line) video standard is used. It
delivers a frame rate of 25 frames per second. This video standard is commonly
used in Europe, Australia and some parts of Asia. Whereas NTSC (National
Television Standard Committee) video standard is used in America and Canada. It
delivers a frame rate of 30 frames per second.
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Whatever camera captures in a single take is called shot. A shot consists of a
single take, which can be of several seconds or several minutes long. The length of
a shot depends upon its purpose. It could be to establish a place, show action or
A scene is generally thought of as the action in a single location and continuous
time. Generally scene is a collection of shots but it may be composed of a single
shot. A scene is a unit of story that takes place at a specific location and time. If
one of these changes, you have a new scene.
A sequence is a series of scenes that form a distinct narrative unit, which is
usually connected either by unit of location or unity of time. It is comprised of
several scenes that combine to tell a segment of story.
So, sequence is composed of one/ several scenes. Scene is composed of
one/several shots and shot is composed of several frames.
Frame → Shot→ Scene→ Sequence
White Balance
Video cameras are made to reproduce colors accurately, but to do this they must
be electronically alerted to the color temperature of the light which is illuminating
the subject. This is called white balancing the camera.
There are two options available in White Balance: Automatic and Manual. In
Automatic mode camera will do white balancing itself. While in Manual mode, we
will have to do it ourselves.
How to do a Manual white balance:
Set your camera to manual white balance mode.
Zoom in on a white card that is under the same light as your subject
will be.
Hold the white balance button down for a second or until you get the
white balance completed.
If your camera has the labels WB1 and WB2, it means that you can do
white balance for two different light settings at the same time. It will be very
convenient if you are rushing through a shoot with both indoor and outdoor
You need not to re-white balance every time you change location, but
you will have to remember to flip the switch from WB1 to WB2.
Present Mode
Some cameras have inbuilt white balancing setting. In a situation where you
are using only 3200K studio lights, you can switch the camera to Present
3200 K and you won’t have to balance it again. Similarly, if you are
recording outdoor, you can white balance by just clicking the 5600K option.
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(Illustration of doing white balance)
Principles of Video Production
Basically Video production is a team effort. It is an art of creating content and
delivering a finished video product. After pre-production, the second stage is
production. In this stage, actual shooting takes place and the required images get
recorded. And in last stage, the recorded material is captured and edited. Music,
graphics are added. So, there are several things to be kept in mind through this
whole process:
Composition deals with way the elements of the picture are arranged in relation to
each other, and where each one appears on the screen. (Already discussed)
Shot size
Shot size is related to how much of the picture is filled by the subject. Shot may be
Extreme Long, Long, Mid Long, Mid, Mid close, Close or extreme close up. It all
depends upon the requirement of the script. Choosing the right shot size is one of
the key decisions the director makes. Each shot is important and should be
carefully designed. For ex-The close up shot encourages the viewer to concentrate
on a specific feature of a subject or character. It draws attention, response and
emotions. It is known as the most sensitive shot.
Framing- Framing refers to where the edges of the shot are placed. It may be tight
or loose depending upon the requirement of the script. For Framing the things to
be kept in mind are as follows:
Looking Space/Nose room
The rule of thirds
Imaginary line/ Line of action
Camera Angles: The height of the camera and the angle at which it views the
subject determine camera angle. It can be High angle, Eye level and Low angle.
Continuity – Continuity is a crucial element in video production. In a short film or
feature film if a character is shown as going to Mumbai’s market and in the same
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scene if he/she is shown in another city, will break the continuity and will confuse
the viewer. Similarly, if that character in shown in winter clothes , and after few
seconds he/she is shown in summer clothes in the same scene would disturb the
viewer. Continuity can be of two types:
Action continuity
Space continuity
Time continuity
Camera Movements- All forward gestures or movements are more powerful than
receive action away from the camera. Similarly, a shot moving towards a subject
(zoom/dolly in) arouses greater interest than one withdrawing from it.
Transitions- Transitions are the mode of transport from one shot to another. Cut,
wipe, dissolve, fade in/out are basic transitions. Every transition has a meaning.
So, during editing process or in live editing, selection of right transition is very
Basic Television Production Techniques
The production techniques that video crew members apply vary from person to
person, company to company and country to country. It all depends upon your
requirement, your budget, nature of work, time etc. There are two different ways of
shooting a video production:
Single Camera Production
Multiple Camera Production
Single Camera Production
It is the production technique in which the entire show/episode/film/program is
recorded/captured on a single camera. A production using single camera setup
generally employs just one camera. Each of the shots and camera angles is taken
using the same camera, which is moved and reset to get each shot or new angle.
The single camera production has some important advantages. It is extremely
mobile, thus easily relocated. It is independent of its surroundings, and it is
Multiple Camera Production
The use of two or more cameras, running simultaneously giving different angle of
views of the set being framed. Although a single camera has its advantages, but
there are many situations in which a single camera has a little hope of capturing
much more glimpse of the event. Prime time news bulletins, TV discussions,
debates, music videos, Soap operas, talk Shows, some sitcoms use multiple camera
setups. Even in live events, cricket matches, sports, action scenes in films, where
there is no option for retakes and time constraints, multiple cameras are used.
Most Television productions go through three main stages.
Pre Production
Post Production
Pre Production- Pre Production is the first and most important stage among all
the three stages. The preliminaries, research, preparation, organization and
rehearsal before the production begin at this stage. Ninety percent of the work on a
production usually goes into the planning and preparation stage. It is the stage
where all the planning takes place before the camera rolls. This planning phase
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sets the overall vision of the project. Though every shoot has its own particular
requirements, there are certain generic tasks which need to be done during pre
production. These are:
Finalize the script.
Draw up the production schedule.
Engage the team.
Arrange the cast and crew.
Arrange equipment
Check out the possible locations and obtain permit and clearances.
Arrange and conduct performance rehearsals prior to camera n
Get artwork done.
Production- This is the stage where you will execute all the plans. Production
begins once the footage is recorded. Shooting is done in this stage. During the
production process, you will work out the lighting requirements, framing and
Post Production-Post Production process begins after the footage has been
captured. Editing is done in this stage. Editing is the process in which material
which has been shot is blended together to tell an effective and engaging story.
Dubbing, para dubbing, sub titles, voice over is done according to the requirements
of the script. Graphics, animation can be added along with the images, music,
color correction and special effects. In this stage your final product becomes ready
for distribution/transmission.
The whole process has the following stages.
Select location, Hire Crew,
Select Equipment
Script/Production Plan
Production Meetings Select Contract Talent
Post Production
Project Complete
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“An Idea can change your life”, Slogan by IDEA Cellular is also applicable in the
field of production. Basically Idea is a thought or suggestion as to a possible course
of action. An idea means starting with a concept. Usually, it comes from an
interesting personal experience, a story you heard, something you read in a book
or newspaper- some interesting incident that gave you the idea for your
production. After the idea, you have to begin to formulate your goals and
objectives. So, an idea is the first and most important part of your whole
production process.
One thing that is very clear that your idea must be feasible, it must be
produceable. You must be clear about the subject to be covered, what program is
to be used for. Whether your program is a sitcom, a news program, educational
program, or a sports production, it is essential to determine whom the program is
for. Suppose you want to make a special program on Gatka-Sikh Martial Art. So,
you must have known your target audience. The next question you should
probably ask is “How long should it be?” May be 30 minutes or 1 hour or even you
want to show it in few episodes.
Once an idea is conceived, it must be transformed into a message, a script.
Generally, the script must be created before anything else is done, because it will
be the source that every other area draws from. The type of script largely depends
upon the kind of program you are making. In some production situations,
particularly where talent improvise as they speak or perform, the “script” simply
lists details of the production group, facilities needed, scheduling requirements and
it shows basic camera positions. The script format would be totally different for
documentary, special TV program and even for news package.
A Successful script has to satisfy two important requirements:
It must fulfill its purpose
It must be practical.
Shooting Script
Planning is an essential part of a serious production and the script forms the
basis for that plan. Script does the following things:
Helps the director to clarify ideas and develop a project that
successfully communicates to the viewers.
Helps the director to coordinate the entire production team.
Helps the director to determine what resources will be needed for the
Shooting script includes the dialogues, shots detail, costumes detail, location,
lighting, audio, music details etc.
It’s very important how you visualize the story. After script is finalized, it matters
how you show it to your viewers with your camera. The selection of camera lens,
shots, camera movements, angles and composition can change the whole
perspective. Although audio and video images both are very important in a
television production. Viewers perceive television as primary visual medium.
Material should be presented in visual terms as much as possible. If planned and
shot well, the images can powerfully move the audience- sometimes with very few
words. When pointing a camera scene, you are doing much more than simply
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showing your audience what is going on there. You are selecting specific areas of
the scene. You are drawing their attention to certain aspects of the action. The way
you use your camera will influence the impact of the subject on the audience.
Voice Over
The voice of the narrator or another person, used without the accompanying image
of that person is known as voice over. It is a production technique where a voice –
that is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, film
making. The voice over is read from script by voice over artist. Basically it is
commentary over video by an invisible person.
Camera Angles
The height of the camera and the angle at which it views the subject determine
camera angle. It can subconsciously affect how the audience perceives the subject.
The angle from which the camera photographs a subject or scene. There are a great
variety of camera angles, any of which can add an interesting perspective to that
which is being pictured. Sometimes the camera angle can greatly influence the
audience. Camera angles are used in position the viewer so that they can
understand the relationships between the characters.
Eye Level- This is the most common view, being the real-world angle that we are
all used to. It shows subjects as we would expect to see them in real life. It is fairly
neutral shot. This is the most commonly used angle in films as it allows the
viewers to feel comfortable with the characters. Eye level shot provide an image
that is roughly at the eye level of average viewing audience. This is also the most
common shot used in television and provides a sense of normalcy.
(Illustration of Eye Level)
High Angle- A high angle shows the subject from above as the camera is angled
down towards the subject. This has the effect of diminishing the subject, making
them appear less powerful, less significant or even submissive. A character shot
with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. It can make that person look
inferior, and give the viewer an impression of their own superiority. High angle
shots provide a view from above the subject. This high vantage point can provide
the viewer with additional information.
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(Illustration of High Angle)
Low Angle- This shows the subject from below, giving them the impression of being
more powerful, important, strong and dominant. This is the opposite of a high
angle and makes a character look more powerful. This can make the audience feel
vulnerable and small by looking up at the character.
(Illustration of Low Angle)
Bird’s Eye- The scene is shown from directly above. This is a completely different
and somewhat unnatural point of view which can be used for dramatic effect or for
showing a different spatial perspective. It is an angle that looks directly down upon
a scene. It is an elevated view of an object from above with a perspective as though
the observer were a bird. This angle is often used as an establishing angle, along
with an extreme long shot, to establish setting.
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Types of Camera Shots
Camera Shots can be divided into seven types.
 Extreme Long Shot
Long Shot
Mid Long Shot
Mid Shot
Mid Close up
Close up
Extreme Close up
Extreme Long Shot- Extreme long shot enables you to establish the location and
to create the overall atmospheric impression. It can be used to cover very
widespread action. It shows where all the action is taking place. It allows the
audience to follow broad movements. It shows the relative positions of subjects.
This shot also establish moods. But this shot doesn’t allow your audience to see
detail. This shows the landscape of the film or a barely visible character in the
distance of a background. This gives information to the viewer about where the
action is to take place. It often sets the atmosphere of a film.
Long Shot
Long Shot is not as wide as Extreme long shot. When people are involved in long
shot, it shows us the positional relationship between the actors and their settings.
It immediately shows where the action is happening. ELS and LS are often referred
as establishing shot. It depicts an entire character or object from head to foot. This
shows the whole person and other characters, but the background dominates the
shot. This allows the viewer to understand the relationship between Onthe
characters and their environment.
Mid Long Shot
Mid Shot or Medium Shot is tighter than the mid long shot. This shot is used to
show the relationship between people in a shot or scene, but generally does not
present as much information about the setting as long shot. It shows less than a
long shot, more than a close up. This shows the upper half of the body.
Mid Close Up
The mid close up shot is one of the most frequently used in television. It consists of
a head and shoulders shot that ends at the chest of the subject. This shot gives full
face detail of the subject, but without the extreme impact of the close up. It also
can be used to film an object at close range. It contains little or no background.
This is used to introduce a character and allows the character to show emotions.
Close Up
Close up shot is an extremely powerful shot that gives an extremely tight shot of
the subject’s head. This is one of the most effective shots available for providing a
close view of the detail of a face or object. It draws attention, response and
emotions. This is full height and the head takes up the entire screen. It contains
little or no background. This shows the detail of the character’s face. It is known as
most sensitive shot.
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Extreme Close Up
Extreme close up is the tightest shot possible for your subject. On a person, The
ECU frames the subject’s eyes, nose or mouth. This shot allows the viewer to
understand the detail a bit more.
Illustration s of various shots:
Extreme Long Shot
Long Shot
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Mid Long Shot
Mid Shot
Mid Close Shot
Close Up Shot
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Extreme Close Up Shot
There are some other types of shots:
Over shoulder shot
Point of view shot
Ariel shot
Over Shoulder Shot- This shot is also known as OTS and OSS. It is a shot of
someone or something taken from the perspective or camera angle from the
shoulder of another person. This type of shot is very common when two characters
are having discussion.
(Illustration of Over shoulder shot)
Point of view shot- When the camera is positioned so that you see exactly what
the character in the film or video would be seeing from his perspective. It shows
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what a character is looking at. It is a shot which shows the scene from the specific
point of view of one of the character.
Ariel shot- A shot taken from a helicopter, drone, or a person on top of a building.
It may be a moving or static shot. It is very wide shot taken from a vantage point.
This shot establishes the location but without giving intensive detail of a particular
thing or location.
Camera Movements
Camera movements are used to shape meaning. Static shots cannot be used
repeatedly. The production without camera movements would be boring and
irritating. In everyday life, we respond to situations by making specific gestures or
movements. These reactions and actions often become very closely associated. We
look around with curiosity; move in to inspect an object; without or avert out eyes
from situation that we find embarrassing, distasteful or boring.
Moving the Camera Head
It is not surprising to find that certain camera movements can evoke associated
responses in the audience, causing them to have specific feelings toward what they
see on the screen.
Panning - It refers to rotating the camera in the horizontal plane- that is, the left
or right on the camera support, which might be a tripod or even a person. Panning
is used to follow an action, survey a scene or show where one person or object is in
relation with another. It gives the viewer a panoramic view of a set or setting. This
can be used to establish a scene. Panning should be smooth-neither jerking into
action nor abruptly halting. Erratic or hesitant panning irritates the audience.
Very fast panning is known as ‘Swish Panning’
Tilt- Tilting is the vertical movements of the camera when you tip the camera lens
up and down from a fixed position. The tilt is used to emphasize height or depth, to
follow an action, to survey the face of a building or the length of a human body,
and to show the relationship between one place or object and another. Tilting, like
panning, allows you to visually connect subjects or areas that are spaced apart.
Otherwise, you would need to intercut different shots, or use a longer shot to
include both subjects.
Zoom- When you have a camera attached to a tripod; it’s often easier to change the
camera’s shot size by zooming than by actual moving. You may change the size of a
subject’s image with magnification factor. To make the image of something or
someone appear much larger and nearer, or much smaller and further away. Zoom
can be zoom in and zoom out.
Zoom in- When you move in towards the subject without physically going closer to
the subject with the help of zoom lens, it is called zoom in. It brings the distant
subjects closer. It magnifies the image of a distinct object.
Zoom out- When you are moving away from the subject without physically moving
away, it is called zoom out. Use this movement only when it is required. Otherwise
it will disturb the viewer. Zoom can be further of two types: Optical and Digital
Moving the camera
Many directors prefer to use a static camera. It gives good control over the image
and it’s still possible to produce strong feelings of movement within the shot by
carefully orienting the fixed camera in relation to the action. But in present
scenario, camera movements are widely used even in television serials and in
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The Dolly
A dolly is a unit with wheels on it, to which a tripod can be attached. Once the
tripod is on a dolly, it can be moved along smoothly in any direction.
Dolly in- When a director wants a camera operator to move the camera closer to the
Dolly out- When a director wants a camera operator to move the camera away from
the subject.
Tracking- A tracking shot moves on track. It can be used to follow a character.
When a director wants the camera to be moved to the left or to the right, the
expressions used are track left and track right.
(Illustration of Tracking)
Crane Shots- A crane is a large, heavy piece of equipment, but is a useful way of
moving a camera- it can move up, down, right, swooping in on action or moving
diagonally out of it. The camera operator operates the camera from the crane. It
allows the camera to travel rapidly above the heads of a crowd or to sweep around
near floor level as it follows action. It follows action. It offers the director an
impressive range of shots.
Camera Jib Shots- These days camera jibs are used instead of crane as these can
fulfill director’s requirements. Smaller lightweight jibs are easily disassembled and
transported and have proved to be extremely adaptable both in the studio and in
the field. All the camera controls including focus, aperture, tilt and pan are
adjusted by a remote control. A jib is more compact than the traditional camera
crane. It is much more portable and a less costly to buy or hire. These are being
commonly used in live events and marriages.
Sky camera/ Cable camera/Drones
Nowadays, these cameras are used over sports fields. The remote camera is
suspended on overhead cables. Wide range of Ariel shots along with zoom in and
zoom out can be achieved with this camera.
Rules for framing
Imaginary Line
Camera Angles can easily confuse the audience’s sense of direction and their
impression of spatial relationships if care is not taken when selecting camera
positions. It the camera captures the action from one side and then crosses over
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the line to the other side for a different shot, the subject will jump from one side of
the frame to the other when the two shots are edited together. For example, during
a basketball game, if cameras are placed on both sides of the court, it is confusing
to see a player running toward the left side of the screen and then, when the
director cuts to the camera on the other side of the court, to see the player running
toward the right side of the screen. To avoid this happening, draw an imaginary
line along the direction of the action
(called the action line, axis of action, or
eye line). Then be careful that the camera captures from only one side of this linegenerally it is not crossed. This line is known as line of action.
180 degree
The “180 degree rule” suggests that you must keep all your cameras on the same
side of an imaginary line between you and your actors when shooting. Imagine a
circle split in half – the cameras go on the other – hence, 180 degrees. To “ jump
the line” or “cross the line” means that you have placed the camera on the opposite
side of the action line and recorded coverage from the wrong side of 180 degree arc.
Then your audience may be confused when characters appear to move suddenly
from right to left of the screen.
When you are seeking various angles on action for a variety of shots types within
your 180 degree arc, you should ideally move the camera at least 30 degrees
around the semi circle before you begin to frame up a new shot of the same
subject. Without changing the lens, or moving closer or farther away, and as long
as we move 30 degree to the left or right along that circle.
Rule of Third
The rule of thirds is a useful rule for composing the picture. Divide the screen into
thirds both horizontally and vertically. The main subject should be on one of those
lines or, identically, on the intersection of two of the lines. The rule suggests that
points of interest should occur at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way up the frame, rather than
in the centre. Like many rules of framing, this is not always necessary but it is one
of those rules you should understand well before you break it.
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(Illustration of Rule of the Thirds)
Lighting in Television and films is about more than just making things visible.
Lighting creates the environment for storytelling. Successful lighting guides the
audience’s interest. It directs their attention towards important features, because
the viewer’s eyes are generally attracted to the brightest area of the screen. Lighting
is used to increase or decrease the picture’s depth of field. Lighting also sets the
(Illustration of Lighting)
Types of lighting:
Key Light:
As name suggests, the key light is the main or predominant light on a subject. It is
the light that gives shape, form and definition to the subject. If a person has only
one light on him or her, that is by definition the key. As it is the principal source of
directional light, it creates a shadow of the subject. The One way of thinking of the
key is that is usually the light that creates a shadow of the subject. The key light is
placed on one side of the camera; it’s up to you which side you choose.
Fill Light
As the name suggests, fill means to cover up something. The key, as single defining
source, may exist alone; but in most cases, the contrast between the lit areas and
the shadows will be too great or the single-source look may not be appropriate for
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the shot. Any light that balances the key light is referred to as the fill. This light is
often a softer light, and of a lower intensity. It is usually placed near the camera on
the opposite side from the key light. It provides generally diffused illumination to
reduce shadow or contrast range.
Backlight is any light that comes from behind the subject. When backlight comes
from almost directly overhead and high enough to get over the head and onto the
face and nose, it is called a top light. It provides illumination from behind the
subject and opposite the camera; it distinguishes the shadow of the object from the
background and emphasis the object’s outline. This light can be a hard or soft
Background Light
Although you have key, fill and back lights but may also want the person to be
situated in a visible background. For this purpose, you use a background light.
There may be a single background light or multiple lights depending upon the
situation. For example, the two main characters of a film, TV serial are having food
in a restaurant, then to establish a restaurant; background light/lights would be
Directing Actual Shooting
During Production when the director finally gets to direct the crew to capture the
audio and video needed to communicate the message. The director visually
interprets the script or event, motivates the crew to do t their best work, and
guides the talent to get the best performances. It involves coordinating
innumerable creative activities throughout the course of developing, shooting,
completing, and marketing a film. He or she is the individual who actively overseas
the realization of a film from shooting script to finished product. Directors are
responsible for motivating the team to produce the best possible results.
(Illustration of Directing Actual Shooting)
The things to be considered while directing actual shooting are as follows:
Is everything going according to the schedule and pre planning?
Are you getting the right ideal shot?
To use the natural lighting conditions for ideal production or to arrange
the artificial lighting.
To avoid unnecessary sounds.
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Unnecessary elements should not enter into your frame.
To maintain continuity.
To take some extra shots and cut away shots.
To make sure that as soon as possible after going to a new scene, give a
long shot.
When it is necessary to take a comparatively close shot of someone
from a long distance away, by using a narrow angle lens, the camera should
be as nearly on a level with the subject as possible.
For the sake of clarity, it is obviously desirable for all the shots to be as
close as is reasonably possible. On the other hand, it is irritating to the
viewer if the camera is too close and action that should be seen takes place
just outside the frame.
To provide foreground objects in very long shots.
When composing in depth, consider depth of focus.
Keep the angle of the camera as close as possible to the eye-line of the
Never let a performer look straight into the lens of the camera unless it
is necessary to give the impression that he is speaking directly to the viewer
Always relate the sound to the vision.
Desmond Davis, Barrie & Jenkins. The Grammar of Television Production.
Communica, Europe.
Gerald Millerson. Television Production. Focal Press
Herbert Zettl. Handbook of Television Production.Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Martha Mollison, Allen Unwin. Producing Videos
Video Production Handbook-Jim Owens, Gerald Millerson
Blain Brown. Cinematography Theory and Practice. Focal Press
Blain Brown. Motion Picture and Video Lighting. Focal Press.