What are most of the settings that pictures show

Everything about settings, image section and setting size

A setting defines how something is being filmed. Because it also determines the image section, the setting size is an essential part of film language and, for creating a video, a component of the grammar of film and video. But unlike grammar, attitudes are easier to understand. This article shows you with concrete examples and pictures.

Note: In this article, settings are not understood to mean the technical setting for the correct handling of a photo or film camera when creating a video (menu settings, programs for regulating aperture, exposure time, etc.), but the actual image section and the setting size.

Why setting size matters

Making films means breaking life down into its individual parts. But more on that later. First there is the terminology.

A setting describes the period of time in which a camera runs without interruption. It is initiated by striking the clapperboard. In the English language this period is called Take. The term setting size or the English word “shot” means the same thing.

Setting sizes describe what a camera shot shows. This is about the image content, the image section. Conversely, the size of a shot has nothing to do with the camera perspective, at least in theory. This determines the angle from which the setting is rotated.

Attitude sizes are not only important for storytelling, but also for assembly. As always in a sequential, visual narrative, continuity plays an important role here.

A good storyboard usually shows one setting per picture.

Image detail in film and video = cadrage and framing

The terms cadrage (from French, also used as kadrage in German) or the English framing are often found in connection with the size of settings. Both words mean nothing else than the determination of a picture section. Nevertheless, there is a difference to the image section. Why?

Cadrage and framing are an umbrella term for the image section in film and video. They help to determine the size of the setting. You determine what belongs in the film image. The choice of setting then depends on this.

The French word “cadrage” shows this wonderfully: it means nothing more than frame. First it is determined what belongs in the “picture frame”. This is then implemented with the image composition (which also includes the selection of the appropriate setting).

Classic settings

Two questions are important when working with moving images and creating images. Which setting should be used where and when. And what types of settings are there anyway.

Often times, the term "setting size" is used as a synonym used for setting or framing. That is only partially correct.

Many filmmakers do not only include the criterion of closeness to a person (subject) or an object (object) in their settings. Rather, it is also the way in which the camera sees something.

That can from above be. From a Sub-perspective. Furthermore, too frontal or sideways.

Setting sizes are expressive options of the camera. They are as important as the movement of the camera. Together with the structure of the image (foreground, middle ground, background), the settings shape the film image.

The transition between individual types of setting sizes is fluid. So that an argument and discussion about the image detail of a shot is possible at all, the distinction between

  • Long shot
  • Medium long shot
  • Half-close shot
  • Close up
  • Close up
  • Detail shot

naturalized. These six forms of recruitment are called classic Setting sizes designated. In addition, there are intermediate forms and extreme variants such as the super long shot or the so-called American, which have also become firmly established in the course of film history.

Setting: The long shot

The panorama setting is colloquially referred to as "total". Wide-angle recording usually means the same thing. Both settings show an overview of what is.

Conversely, only a few details can usually be seen in a full camera setting. There is a long distance between the position of the camera and a person or thing.

Because the long shot gives the viewer some orientation, it is often used as the first image in a scene. Hence it is also called Establisher referred to (which can be translated as "explanatory introduction").

This type of recording embeds an action in its environment. The spatial context in which something takes place is revealed in the total shots. This can have an oppressive or liberating effect on the viewer psychologically, depending on the course of the action.

Setting size: TotalsGerman nameEnglish name
Long shot, panorama, establishment
  • Long Shot (LS)
  • Wide Shot (WS)
  • Establishing Shot (ES)

There are often more long shots in documentaries than in staged videos. Quite simply because in the documentary film the events take place in reality and cannot be controlled.

If the director and cameraman want to be sure that they have everything in the picture, they shoot a long shot.

The total can also be increased. Then it becomes a super panorama or an extreme form of the long shot.

Setting size: super long shot
Super panorama, super long shot
  • Extreme Long (ELS)
  • Extreme Wide (EWS)

This type of setting is often combined with slow drives or pans. This combination is popular for landscape photography.

If in Hollywood by one ELS is spoken, the extreme long shot is meant. LS or WS denote a normal version of it.

Take: The medium long shot

The medium-long shot, as the name suggests, is only half as far away from the subject. The distant viewer becomes an observer with the medium long shot. He sees more.

The medium long shot shows more. It restricts the field of vision more and thus directs the gaze.

The medium long shot is better suited for TV productions and small screens. One step above the rider in the background can still be clearly seen in a western in the cinema. On the smartphone, however, horse and human are only recognizable as a pixelated point in the same film.

Setting size: medium long shot
Medium long shot
  • Medium long
  • Full shot (FS)
  • Complete View (CS)

People can be seen in the medium long shot from the soles of the feet to the tips of their hair. The medium long shot as a setting is important if physical actions are to be made clear in the film.

A jump or a fall has a much more intense effect in the medium long shot than when an actor jumps or falls out of the picture. The medium long shot is also used for comedy and slapstick.

The English abbreviation MLS corresponds to the medium long shots in the settings. Who of one Complete view speaks, means the medium long shot, which mainly shows a person in the picture. This is done in such a way that the person is depicted in full and the surroundings are only partially depicted.

Shot: Half-close shot

The half close includes an actor from the waist to the head. This setting size corresponds to the human perspective on another person during a conversation. This is why this setting is often used for dialogue scenes.

The half-close is also often used for indoor shots. Depending on the number of people in the image section, one also speaks of a half-close twos or, for example, a threesome (setting size shows 3 people).

Setting size: half near
Half nearmedium

More famous than the half-near, that too Medium shot or the Mid Shot (MS) is called, is her brother, the "American". This variation, also a half near, is completely called American Shot (AS). It was invented to depict cowboys in westerns from the thighs (where the hands and gun were in the duel) to the head.

Setting size: American

Setting: close-up

The increase in the half-close is the close-up. With a close focus, the field of vision begins above the hip and extends to the top of the head. The camera films someone as they would have been modeled as a bust by a sculptor in the past.

The greater proximity to the head emphasizes the facial expression and the eyes in front of the camera in the close-up settings. The viewer literally looks his counterpart in the face.

In the German-speaking countries, too, close-ups are used to speak of a close one (1 person in the image section) or close twos (the setting includes 2 people).

Setting size: close-up
Close-upShoulder Close Up (SCU)

The English name for close-up setting refers to the center of the image of this classic setting, the shoulder directly in the name.

Close up

The close-up, as the name suggests, is even closer with the film camera than the half-close and close-up. While the head is in the picture, the shoulders are only barely visible or can be guessed at.

Accordingly, facial expressions and facial expressions can be read clearly. What is not important is therefore cut off by the camera. A close-up can of course only show hands or some other part of the body.

Setting size: close-up
Close upClose-Up (CU)

The close-up (CU) is the same setting size.

Setting: detail shot

The detailed image is even closer to a person or an object. As a result, it only covers a section. But these are too clear, therefore unambiguous and very large.

The viewer does not need to think about what he sees as soon as he is served this type of image. Example: we see personal data on an identity card of the performer.

In short: a detailed picture does not allow any misunderstandings. This closeness can be pleasant for the viewer, depending on the dramaturgy and image content or act repulsive.

Setting size: Detail view
Detail shotExtreme Close-up (ECU)

The "Italian" is a special type of detail recording. Their origins also go back to the Western.

For the film Spiel mir das Lied von Tod, director Sergio Leone wanted to reduce the drama in the duel between Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson beyond the detail shot. Conventional attitudes couldn't do that.

The “Italian” setting size invented by Leone therefore only covers the narrow eye area and the head up to the middle. This only works with an appropriate film format. Instagram with its square image section makes many settings impossible.

Setting size: Italian
Italian attitudeItalian Shot (IS)

A detailed picture is the maximum of the possible. It is a superlative. So it shouldn't be used too much. It is the most extreme form of close-up.

What is the best setting size?

There is no general answer to this question. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Because depending on the image section, different setting sizes can be ideal for a scene, because the story requires this.

The size of an image section also has an influence on the image lighting. In other words, professional work with film is impossible without specialist knowledge, talent and experience.

You have to know that
  • Settings are single recordings from which a scene will later be assembled in a video or a film.
  • One shot differs from the next shot in that it has a different image section.
  • Repetitions have nothing to do with the setting size because the section of the image is retained.
  • The sequence of the settings in a scene is determined by the dramaturgy and finalized during the image montage.
  • The most important image sections are: Total, Half-Total, Half-Close, Close, Large and Detail.

Each genre and each film nation also has its own cultural rules for dealing with attitude variables.

As a result, when dealing with settings, the camera and director must be aware that films are told sequentially. It's like an orchestra. It is the interaction and, in the case of a film, the change in the frame that gives the film and the film language their power.

How do I work correctly with setting size and image section?

An outdated film rule states that if you go from the overview to the detail and then back again, you will never go wrong with the setting. This would totally start a scene in which we see who is where in the room. The medium-long shot, which gives us more information about the people and objects, then goes to half-close and close-up, undercut with close-ups and details. This is always tailored to the content of the plot.

According to this principle, we see what is important bigger and closer, what is less important or what we need for spatial orientation, rather from a distance. Towards the end of a scene the sequence is reversed: we move away and leave the plot.

Films staged and assembled in this way resemble a medieval court dance. Strictly formal, this sequence leaves the viewer no room for surprises. This is what filmed theater feels like. Because the scenes are always played out (= visually resolved from start to finish), there is often a lack of speed.

Modern videos deal differently with the composition of the setting sizes and the image section. As a rule of thumb, it has been established in practice that never skipped more than one setting size may be. This makes sense in everyday video production, but does not claim to be general. If it is justifiable in terms of content and dramaturgic, several sizes may also be skipped.

Also today nobody assumes that a scene has to be “ridden out” to the end. Playing with the «accordion», through all levels to a close-up and back again, is out of date. It is permitted to say goodbye to a sequence with a close-up. Only one thing is important: information and emotions, in short, the viewer's leadership must not suffer.

Influence of the settings on the montage and the image cut

The often-cited argument that the sequence must skip one step when cropping the image so that the image does not jump later in the cut is complete nonsense! Here viewing angles (the camera perspective) are confused with the setting size. Anyone who jumps into a picture on the same axis, whether via one or more setting parameters, either needs impeccable reasons for the content or has never heard of the 30 degree rule. See also the Filmpuls article about the phenomenon of invisible cuts.

There is more about film editing in a four-part series of articles in our magazine. Their contents at a glance:

Other articles on this include pacing and timing as well as editing and assembly.

Overview of setting sizes

Finally, a summary of the most important settings and image sections:

More about settings

If you want to delve deeper into the subject of image detail, setting and frame size, we recommend Daniel Arijon's book “Grammar of the Film Language” on the language of film. It explains assembly and settings from scratch with many illustrations. That is why the work is considered a classic for filmmakers and video producers.

Admittedly, it is easier to read than the 600+ pages. But the work is worth it.

In addition to case studies (practical examples of how an action can be resolved visually and which rules should be observed), almost every chapter also contains many storyboards that are easy to read and understand. Unfortunately, the book is currently only available in English, Japanese, French and Spanish.

Original title: Grammar of the Film Language | Author: Daniel Arjon | Publisher: Silman James

© 3D-Grid: “Action Girl” from turbosquid.com, Artist: WindTrees