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Actor/Director Film Lab

Lesson 1 of 16

Shot Sizes

Robert Milazzo

Actor/Director Film Lab

Robert Milazzo

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Lesson Info

1. Shot Sizes


  Class Trailer
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1 Shot Sizes Duration:16:46
3 Camera Movement Duration:14:06
4 Actor Critique: Speed Duration:19:09
5 Actor Critique: Motion Duration:10:35
6 Actor Critique: Size Duration:14:49
7 Dynamics of Rehearsal Duration:11:53
8 Dynamics of The Shoot Duration:18:51

Lesson Info

Shot Sizes

Welcome to the creative life studios in san francisco, california. My name is robert melissa, and I'm here today. I'm honored today to teach actor, director film lab my day job is the head of the film channel here, creative lives, and I'm happy to step away from that day job to do a job of great passion, which is teaching actors and filmmakers what, when another goes through on the level of craft psychology, and just yet, the general definition of what makes great collaboration. We're excited to have you watching at home, and we're excited to have a really smart, dedicated group of students who are both actors and directors in their own right. We're also excited tohave uncredible lineup of skype guests with us during the course all whether you want to call them recovering actors or recovering filmmakers. Two of the three started his actors and became filmmakers. One is an established actor, who's just worked with every filmmaker that you would ever want to work with. So we're in for a ...

great ride in this course actor, director, film, lab quick show of hands from our group here, or small group here who in here would call themselves an actor? Don't be shy, ok, who in here would call themselves a filmmaker or a director? Got a couple, and we got an undecided you know who you are good, that makes one of us. I used the term filmmaking alive versus directing, I think directing is a part of the craft of filmmaking, so I've referred to my directing students is filmmakers a student once asked me, how do you become a filmmaker? I said, it's simply make a film on lee, you can call yourself a film maker and only truly you conclude yourself an actor s o we're going toe, we're going to discuss how powerful vocabulary is and that's kind of where we're going to start first. This idea vocabulary vocabulary sounds like a very remedial word, you know, we all learn vocabulary at a very early age, but it's one of the great things about film teaching, one of the great things about film craft is this where this idea of the vocabulary I've been really fortunate? I tell my students all the time I've seen the world through film study, I've been able to teach all over the world one of the reasons why it's not because of multilingual it's because the film itself is a language, acting, has a language, filmmaking has a language on this course will cover that language. The one type of conversation you don't get to have on a film set is what do you what do you do and why are you doing it and what do you do and why are you doing it? So we're gonna have this today we're going to have it with people who have done that before have had it before we're going to have it amongst ourselves. This is like a safe place to have this conversation a great filmmaker once told me do your homework before you get to the set, so we're going to cover home work and preparation onda different crossovers you know the filmmakers talked to stay in their lane the actors talk to stay in their lane but really it's a one way street that's the irony of what we do it's all ultimately elaine, we'll have to share actors and directors were going to bump into each other they're going to force each other off the road some we're going to drive off the road consciously eso today and throughout this course well equipped to you with some really basic but fundamental skill sets as to how to navigate your lane and drive alongside another craft person or technician sound about right to you guys cool so let's start with the kind of real specific approach to vocabulary hello don't be scared of this little man that in the screen he means you no harm the first former vocabulary that I think is useful is sort of the camera, the vocabulary of the camera, there's one incredibly democratizing object on the set, there's only one there's only one thing that does really what no other thing does, and it's frankly, the camera both the filmmakers and the actors have to answer to the camera, so I want to start there with camera vocabulary. Who in here is never touched a camera before in their life? Never touched one in terms of an operate national recording, moving images who in here has never done it? We've all done it awesome. Who in here would say they know a lot about the camera? You would say, what privileges you to say, that I worked as a camera system for a while, you were camera system, and now you're you're still a film, you're still in pursuit of filmmaking craft? Yeah. Have you ever acted before? Uh, not for something that was ever made public. Ok, I don't like acting classes. Have you ever been forced to act in the sense of hey, I'm doing the student film and throw you up on in front of a camera? Yes, do you feel like knowing something about the camera affected your performance, uh, had I known more about the camera at the time, I think it would have great hey wasn't paid to say that, but because I believe he believes it because I believe it and that's where we're going to start with the camera actually vocabulary the camera the way filmmakers describe the act of photography if we really want to look deeper at what filmmaking is it's really the art and active photography and creative live audiences and creative life the community of crave credible, I've knows a lot about photography, so in a way we're going to marry the words used in book in the vocabulary used in photography and the vocabulary used in in photo acquisition moving photo acquisition because really what film is on its essence? It is truly the study photography it's film is ultimately a series of still photographs that's kind of you know, the the the animation of humanity, human life and performance is a serious of still photographs the early film scientists understood this quick quiz when you go to a film that's projected through a projector, how many images air you seeing per second fly by twenty twenty five thirty great gas twenty four is standard twenty, so we're seeing essentially twenty five or images flip by our eyes now how did we arrive at that not to go too deep into history? Trial and error it's literally scientific film the path of the filmmaker is science fiction we're learning fiction through science and now we're going to educate actors and filmmakers to that premise is, well, the science of fiction and the fiction of science so the camera when we describe what a camera does, we often described what a camera can do on dh how a camera records objects so one of the great challenges of one of the things I find hardest to do on a set is described what I want to do, who and what I want to film it how I want to film it the fundamental word both actors and directors start with when they described what they want to see is the size a shot size we describe shots in terms of size ok this little man on a quick quiz is that the right of the frame or the left of the frame? How would you describe that? Where that image sits right? You would say that's frame right the guy yeah he's frame right I mentioned that in the sense of a category because now everything you know about the traditional spatial relationships between things in film is going to change that is his frame right now when it comes to the camera it's a it's a totally different form of vocabulary which we'll get to in a moment frame rate is our guy this shot size is what we referred to as a long shot okay, this is the longest possible it's at the longest possible shall we described as a long shot because the ratio of the subject when we film something by the way we don't call them actors we don't film actors I hate to break it to the actors we don't film actors we film subjects you know it's the old cinematography joke cinematographer terms to the director says what's that in front of my scenery the filmmaker says those are my actors we don't refer to actors on photographic scientific level is actor's actor this is subjective we refer to the things we're shooting we refer to as subjects, so our subject there is in long shot the subject is in the most disproportionate ratio to the frame possible. Okay, now sometimes you look at a shot like that and say that's a wide shot I don't use that term wide shot the reason why I don't use that term wide shot is wide implies a lens it implies a technical fixture to the camera itself because you can shoot a close up wide you can shoot any shot wide watch him once upon a time in the west or any sergio leone in films westerns often or shot close ups in wide what does a wide lens due to the subject you think what effect is it tend to have on the subject? Would you guess stretches it literally stretches the image out so in westerns sergio leone e even tarantino's and lynch as well but I don't want to get to lynch yet a tarantino and leoni will look he doesn't do it any more arrested soul but tarantino will often shoot close ups wide because he wants to stretch the face to see all the lines. So any time you in the close up you see an actor's lines intensely rendered chances are it's a wide lens another way to tell if the lenses wide is if the black the background is out of focus is intensely out of focus and that's something david lynch does a lot when you see a lynch film you see oftentimes this subject in clear focus the background in a complete state of out of focus nous for lack of a better word wide lenses they stretch now ashleigh hit the nail on the head and we had a brief conversation before class about putting you know, how does the camera put weight on an actor you know the typical idea of oh, you know when the camera adds ten, ten pounds well, this is exactly why, because when we photograph something even a still photograph not just a movie camera it stretches an image it's it's not so much stretching, stretching an image we can think of it as flattening in image every image you see is flat so by the nature of flattening and image you're stretching it okay because what the camera doesn't perceive well is depth there's nothing behind here last I checked this may I can't see this man's done man doing them a great service by calling him even a man he's not a bad he's half in that but that figure that subject is flat it's one dimensional so the cameras purpose and we'll get to this later when we talk about the interaction between performance and camera, the cameras purpose and that which we have to use it to prescribe is depth it does not perceive death depth we have to illustrate death because cameras are very one dimensional that's what I'm photographing it I'm gonna photograph it we trickett into perceiving depth and we'll talk about that a little later the craft of death that's your long shot makes sense cool next shot size is cowboy shot there's our guy again this is actually exactly what a cowboy shot should look like in proportion what do you notice about this subject that was different here than the long shot? What do you notice? I can see you can see his feet so it's a great frame of reference if the long shot this is the way I look at the long shots, long shots or head to toe by sea toes and heads even if they've looked like an ant in the distance so long this icy head and told that's a long shot so what? We're not what we're beat what's being denied here essentially is the kneecap down what do you think they called that the cowboys shop what does count what it seems you're going that's exactly right so cowboy shots are called cal bouchard because you always wanted to see the gun you know someone like john ford who was a real painter and even leonie didn't really prescribed to this but a standard western of let's say the late thirties into the forties you always saw that guy because it's not even just wanting to see the draw the gun you want to see the gun that was part of the the artillery of the character cowboy shop it's a term just before we leave kabul shot it's a it's more of a trivia term that I wouldn't say to do an actor we're going to a cowboy shot because it implies too much definition I just throw it on here because you may hear it a cocktail parties and if you want to sound smart at cocktail parties which I always do and I never succeed that's what account we shot this um you guys go to cocktail parties sorry uh medium shots so here's our medium to me medium is waist up um now all look the the idea of vocabulary when we just if I said to an actor we're going to shoot a medium shot now that's not enough information we may need to adjust it and mike lee may shoot a medium shot in a different way than ingmar bergman does and scorsese may shut you know shoot a different medium shot if you look a tw mean streets once courses early feature theirs studying you know when you step to me the best filmmaker just studying from the shot sizes courses because nothing is accidental with framing with with him if you watch mean streets you'll see there's a lot of medium shots and in mean streets there's very few close ups in mean streets and someone escort says you are there so few close ups and main street you guys know the film ministries roughly and score says he said these guys were never by themselves they're always with somebody so if you look at the framing these guys are mostly framed in medium and there's mostly more than one person in the shot so the master filmmakers will give you the map you know scorsese especially he enough none of the framing is accidental shot sizes air very purposeful it's not just marty but like scorsese but I always look at mean streets is a great study tool for shot size medium shot um waist up what do you think our last shot sizes close up now this there are some filmmakers, you know, talk about bergman or, you know, even hitchcock uses a lot of close ups again. It's not enough to say, hey, mr mrs actor actress, we're going to shoot you in a close up, it requires different definition if if you're you know, if you're working with a filmmaker, you know, this could be a close up this could be, you know, bergman close I may even saito actor, we're going to do like a bergman close up, so they know they're really going to be featured here. You know, a terrence malick if you look at badlands, the post up is what we call looser, so this is another point of vocabulary. This is tighter, this is looser, we loose in the frame and we tighten the frame. Does that make sense? So if I'm directing, they say to dp, can you loosen the frame a little bit? It doesn't mean unscrew it and make it wobbly. It means let's, relax the frame what's open the frame up little bit so this is a tighter shot size. Essentially it is the tightest shot size. There are finesse points in here. There's an extreme close up. The first shot of blue by christoph kozlowski is literally julia pinochet's I you know, and there's this whole we're going look today and throughout this course we're going to look at this how we approach these shots sizes that's kind of what we're working towards with our actors here, but there are other, more extreme polar versions. If you watch robert altman nashville, you know he'll put the camera literally two miles from the subject, mike lee as well. Mike leigh likes to pull the camera way, way back because he likes to put his actors in public spaces where he doesn't want anyone else to know there's a movie going on except the actors so well, literally hide the camera and see those collisions. Altman in the seventies used a lot of long, long, long shots because hey like to use a long lens? Well does he would literally think of this just conceive it for a second a camera two miles away from its subject it's extraordinary, but if you see altman's films, what altman is trying to do is he's trying to get you to listen to the film, and if you don't see something as well, you hear it better. That was his premise, because if he denies, you won sense, he sensitize is the other, so anyway, you know for me the master filmmaker's understand these craft points are for very precise goals for very precise goals. And I think if you really study, look, I think I'm referenced. Eight of the ten filmmakers were passed away, and I don't mean to do that. I'm just saying that any filmmaker you love and you think it is worth his or her salt, you can study film vocabulary in shot size it's, the most fundamental way to get into the map of the film.

Class Description

The relationship between the filmmaker, the actor, and the camera is an integral part of every production, but is rarely discussed. In Actor/Director Film Lab, Robert Milazzo explores cinematographic craft and collaboration and its relationship to acting and performance.

In this beginner-friendly class, both filmmakers and actors learn new ways to work together to bring their best work to life. Filmmakers develop new skills for effectively communicating and collaborating with performers. Actors learn how cameras capture performance and how to adjust their work to suit a production’s technical realities.

Actor/Director Film Lab equips those who work on both sides on the camera with insights that improve their working/artistic relationships, while strengthening the quality of their professional film work.

Special Guests:

  • David Morse, Actor 
  • Kasi Lemmons, Writer/Director/Actor 
  • Keith Gordon, Writer/Director


Philip John

I thoroughly enjoyed and became a better craftsman by watching and partaking in this workshop. Congrats Rob you're inspiring and down to earth made this experience a real pleasure. Cheers Mate Phil from Sydney Australia

Carlos Sandoval

I´ve seen a couple of lessons so far, and this is really a great class. Robert know his subject. Just by listening to him talk about Cassavetes and other fascinating filmmakers that rarely get mentioned nowdays, I get on track. The best.

Laura Latimer

Great Class - Thank you!