Definitions

Average shot length

Shot (filmmaking)

In film, a shot is a continuous strip of motion picture film, created of a series of frames, that runs for an uninterrupted period of time. Shots are generally filmed with a single camera and can be of any duration. Frames, shots, scenes, and sequences form a hierarchy of units fundamental to many tasks in the creation of moving-image works.

The distance from the camera to the subject greatly affects the narrative power of a shot. The three basic kinds of shots are long shots, medium shots, and close-ups; more specific examples include the extreme long shot, the aerial shot, the bird's eye shot, the crane shot, the establishing shot, the freeze frame shot, the insert shot, the master shot, the over the shoulder shot, the point of view shot, and the two shot. There is even an American shot, a characterization from French film criticism for a type of shot in certain American films of the 1930s in film and 1940s in film.

Film editing

Cutting between shots taken at different times is known as film editing, and is one of the central arts of filmmaking.

Duration

The length of shots is an important consideration that can greatly affect a film. The purpose of editing any given scene is to create a representation of the way the scene might be perceived by the "story teller." Shots with a longer duration can make a scene seem more relaxed and slower paced whereas shots with a shorter duration can make a scene seem urgent and faster paced.

The average shot length (ASL) of a film is one of its cinemetrical measures. For example, The Mist has a length of 117 minutes and consists of 1292 shots, so the ASL is 5.4 seconds. For US films released in 2007 it was on average 2.5 seconds.

Long takes

Shots with extremely long durations are difficult to do because any error in the shot would force the filmmaker to restart from scratch. They are thus only occasionally used. Films famous for their long cuts include Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather in which the entire first scene is a long take featuring Buonasera describing a murder which occurred, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope that only cuts at the end of each reel, and does so surreptitiously so that it seems as the whole film is one take. A film that was actually a single take is the recent Russian Ark. Joss Whedon's feature film Serenity introduces the main characters with a long take.

"Abby Singer shot"

The penultimate shot in a day's shooting schedule has been nicknamed the "Abby Singer shot" after Abner E. "Abby" Singer, who was known to regularly mislead the film crew into thinking that the second-to-last shot of the day was actually the day's final shot.

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