Basic Video Production Terms:
The Shot, Scene and Sequence

Understanding basic video production terms such as the Shot, the Scene and the Sequence is a "key to success" in producing great videos...!

Here are the definitions of these basic building blocks of any film or video...

All professions have a language… and just like any language… English… Spanish… or Greek… If you don't understand it… Well… You're not going to get very far!

If you really... (and I mean really  )... want to be a "Pro" at video production (or any subject for that matter)...

You have to understand the terms being used... As... they represent the important concepts and/or actions of the subject.

Here are a few of the basic video production terms that represent some of the most fundamental actions and concepts in filmmaking or the video production process as a whole.

The Shot, the Scene and the Sequence... These are  fundamental building blocks of any film or video!

These basic video production terms will be found in any script you are working from... I've included just a very short rundown on each these basic video production terms so, delve into each one and learn them well! If you do… you'll be much more able to produce video material that your audiences will love.

The Basic Video Production Terms…

 The "Shot"…

The Shot is probably the most essential and basic aspect of a film or video and refers mainly to the cameraman shooting one length of continuous (unedited) action.

But ... In the lexicon of filmmaking and video production this term can be used in two ways:

  •  A Shot  (in Production) is created the moment you turn the camera on (begin recording) until the moment you turn it off.
  • A Shot  (in Editing) is the footage between two edits or cuts in the video material.

A "Shot" can be as short as a single frame or it can be many minutes long. 

The criterion for a "Shot" is not the length of time that the camera is running – it's all about the continuity  of the action.

The term "Shot" by the way, derives from the early film production days when cameras were hand-cranked. The operation was similar to the hand-cranked machine guns being used in the military at the time (It gives you an idea of how old filmmaking is doesn't it!). So…

When a cameraman would crank his camera it was similar to the action of shooting a machine gun… and thus the words Shot, Shoot  and Shooting  made it into the film production lexicon.

The handling of "Shots" by the film or video maker break down into categories such as:

#1: Field Size (The Framing of the Camera Shot)...

Field size has to do with the framing the picture and is how much of the subject and its surrounding area is visible within the camera's field of view

This can be broken down further into the shot types  such as:

#2: The Physical Placement of the Camera...

The actual physical placement  of the camera and the angle that the shot is being viewed from. In video production these are called... Camera angles. Some of these angles would include:

And that is just to name a few....

Some things to keep in mind when you're video editing are Action sequences... tend to use many short duration shots to increase the sense of tension, excitement or urgency in the environment while... Dramatic scenes tend to use longer duration shots to slow down the pace and allow the audience to become more involved with the characters and story.

Normally you will use your Storyboard to lay out these angles and shots before you shoot so that you keep your takes to a minimum.

Knowing these basic video production terms will help you as a video editor or a video producer to create more of an impact by controlling the emotional response of the audience.

The "Scene"…

The Scene  is generally thought of as the action that takes place at a certain place and time in the story.

For instance… If the film starts with the subject in a conversation on a subway platform...And then cuts to the subject seated on a moving train...

* The the subject on the subway platform is one scene and...

* The subject seated on the train is another scene.

A scene can be composed of one shot or any number of shots.

Many times a scene will start with a master shot which captures the entire scene is a single shot, and then include additional shots (e.g., close-ups, cut-ins and cutaways) that are edited in to the video or film to comprise the complete scene.

In movies and videos, some types of scenes have acquired names such as:

  • Love scene
  • Action scene
  • Nude scene
  • Dance scene
  • Chase scene
  • Fight scene
  • Dream scene etc.

In a lot of movies or videos you will see parallel scenes where action is going on in two different locations at the same time.

The division of the movie or video into scenes is planned out in the video production script and are not necessarily shot in order. They will be put in the proper sequence in the post-production of the video or film.

You, as the video editor or video producer, will use scenes to create an interesting story that will engage your audience as they progress through your film or video.

The "Sequence"…

When a number of scenes can be considered to form a distinct unit in the film or video or where the action continues or progresses along each of the scenes...then it is considered a Sequence.

It is usually connected either by continuity of location or time or both.

The sequence is part of the structure  of film or video – this structure includes:

  • Shots
  • Scenes (and then)
  • Sequences

The filmmaker or videographer uses shots  to build scenes ...

And then uses scenes to build sequences  and thus... builds his entire film or video.

By using this structure in an intelligent and compelling manner he produces a film or video that tells a coherent story that audiences will love.

These are just some of the basic video production terms that a filmmaker or video maker has to know well.

They are among the very basics of filmmaking or video production and if you study them in depth and know how to put together a Shot, Scene and Sequence you'll be well on your way to producing material that your audiences will love.

Have fun with it and make a great video…!

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