If you’ve ever been on set, you know how crucial it is to have a plan and effectively manage everyone’s time. With a room full of crew, an expensive location, and a long list of images to be shot, it’s vital that there be a blueprint in place to get it all done. If you’re new to the task of shot list creation–or are managing a new style of photo shoot–it may be hard to know where to begin.
As LÜK Network is here to help productions run right, we figured we’d chat through this topic in case you’re needing a touchstone. Let’s get to it.
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Why are Shot Lists Important?
A shot list is a detailed plan of each image you’re looking to shoot. It serves as a guide for the production team–providing a clear outline of the shots that need to be captured, their sequence, and all the particulars involved within that.
Having a clear and detailed shot list can help the production team plan and execute each shot efficiently, minimizing mistakes and reducing the overall production time and cost. It also helps ensure consistency and continuity between shots, which is important for creating a polished and cohesive final product. All in all, you just gotta have one.
When to Make a Shot List
If you’re producing e-comm or find yourself producing any sort of project where products must have images associated with them, you’ll want to make a shot list. With a comprehensive idea of the task at hand, photographers, stylists, and all other crew will have a handle on the day ahead and what their deliverables are.
You will find that managing expectations and your allotted shoot time is far easier when all the folks involved have a plan.
How to Make a Shot List
If you’re creating a shot list for a narrative shoot, a “scene” would refer to a series of shots or frames that are set in a particular place. A scene usually involves a specific location, time, and characters or subjects.
In a shot list, a “setup” refers to the preparation or arrangement of the camera, lighting, props, and any other technical aspect required to capture a specific shot or scene. A setup might mention the camera angle, framing, focus, aperture, and other camera settings, as well as the positioning and lighting of actors, props, and other objects within the frame.
Within any given scene, there may be several “setups” involved to capture the images included therein. Each setup may be described in detail, including the type of shot (such as a close-up, medium shot, or wide shot), camera placement (such as a high angle or low angle), and any specific camera or lighting techniques that will be used.
In a shot list, a shot refers to a single continuous sequence of images captured by the camera without any breaks or cuts. Within that, each shot will be defined by the camera angle, camera movement, and framing of the subject within the image.
Many different types of shots can be used in a shot list, including wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, and extreme close-ups. Each type of shot has a different effect on the viewer and can be used to convey different emotions, moods, or information. By creating a shot list with detailed shot descriptions, the production team can ensure that they capture all the necessary shots to tell the story as intended.
It also helps the director and cinematographer communicate their vision to the rest of the crew, making the whole production hum along as smoothly as possible.
Each shot in the shot list may specify which equipment and gear is needed to capture the shot effectively, as well as any specific technical details required to operate the equipment. By listing all of the required equipment and gear in the shot list, the production team can ensure that they have everything they need on set to capture each shot according to the director’s vision.
In a shot list, “movement” generally refers to any type of camera movement that is planned for a particular shot. Camera movement can add visual interest to a shot, making a more dynamic experience of the intended result.
Some common types of camera movement that may be listed in a shot list include:
- Pan: A horizontal movement of the camera from side to side.
- Tilt: A vertical movement of the camera up or down.
- Dolly/Tracking: A movement of the camera toward or away from the subject, often along a track or on a wheeled platform.
- Crane/Jib: A movement of the camera up or down, often from a high or low angle, using a crane or jib arm.
- Steadicam: A smooth, fluid movement of the camera that follows the action, often using a specialized camera stabilizer.
- Handheld: A shaky, handheld movement of the camera that creates a sense of immediacy and realism.
The movement listed in a shot list may also include any specific details about how the camera will move, such as the speed or direction of the movement, and any other technical details required to achieve the desired effect.
In a shot list, “angle” refers to the position and orientation of the camera in relation to the subject being captured. The angle of the camera is a major part of how the final image is received.
Many different types of camera angles can be listed in a shot list, including:
High angle: The camera is positioned above the subject, looking down at it. This angle can make the subject appear smaller and less powerful.
Low angle: The camera is positioned below the subject, looking up at it. This angle can make the subject appear larger and more powerful.
Eye-level angle: The camera is positioned at the same level as the subject’s eyes. This angle can create a sense of intimacy and connection with the subject.
Bird’s-eye view: The camera is positioned directly above the subject, looking straight down. This angle can create a sense of distance and detachment.
A shot size refers to the framing of the shot, or how much of the subject is visible within the frame of the camera. The shot size can have a significant impact on the visual composition of the shot and the mood or emotion that it conveys.
There are many different types of shot sizes that may be listed in a shot list, including:
- Extreme close-up (ECU): A shot that focuses on a small detail of the subject, such as an eye or a hand.
- Close-up (CU): A shot that shows a part of the subject’s face or body, typically from the shoulders up.
- Medium close-up (MCU): A shot that shows the subject from the chest up.
- Medium shot (MS): A shot that shows the subject from the waist up.
- Medium long shot (MLS): A shot that shows the subject from the knees up.
- Long shot (LS): A shot that shows the subject in full, but at a distance.
- Extreme long shot (ELS): A shot that shows the subject from a great distance, often including the surrounding environment.
These choices are important as they relate to the creative vision as well as the planning and scheduling process at hand.
This would include the listing of any microphones, recorders, or any other audio equipment being used to capture sound.
This would refer to the type of lens being used, such as a wide-angle lens, standard lens, or telephoto lens.
Best to be as detailed as possible in shot list creation, especially when it comes to time. When you create your schedule, it’s important to bake in enough time to set up each shot and allow for enough time to capture the images intended.
This would include the type of camera being used, such as a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or cinema camera.
A “cast/talent” refers to the models, performers, or actors who will be featured in each shot. This piece may include details such as which character is featured in the shot, what emotion or action they should be portraying, and any other specific requirements or instructions for the talent being shot.
Best Shot List Templates
Shot lists are… a lot! They must be detailed, comprehensive, and easy to follow. During the shoot day, printed versions become dogeared and noted to the “nth degree”. If you’re looking to save time on the formatting front, it’s best to have a hand in its creation. That’s where the pros come in:
Adobe is a great tool for shot list creation and management. Within their creative software suite, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects can be used to create and manage shot lists.
Shot lists can be created in Premiere Pro by using its timeline and sequence tools, which allow users to drag and drop clips onto a timeline and arrange them in an intended order. Users can also add details to each clip, including shot size, camera angle, and any other information they’d like to refer to.
Shot lists can be created in After Effects by using its composition and layering tools, which allow users to organize clips and add details such as shot size and camera angle.
Boords is an online storyboard tool that can be used to create shot lists. Within the product, you can add notes and comments to each shot as well as create storyboards, which all help to visualize each shot and communicate its visual style and mood to the rest of the team.
3. Google Sheets
Google Sheets provides a simple and flexible platform for creating shot lists, with the ability to customize the layout and formatting to suit your particular needs. Additionally, because Google Sheets is a cloud-based tool, it allows for easy collaboration and real-time updates among team members working on the same project.
4. Microsoft Word or Excel
Microsoft Word and Excel provide flexible and customizable platforms for creating shot lists, with the ability to customize layout and formatting in whichever way you need. Because Microsoft Office is a widely used productivity suite, it is a simple and intuitive choice for collaboration and real-time updates among team members working on the same project.
StudioBinder is a comprehensive producer’s platform conveniently equipped with a shot listing tool. There is a form you can fill out with all the needed details for each shot, including the shot number, shot description, shot size, camera angle, and any notes or instructions needed.
While Vimeo does not provide built-in shot list creation functionality, it does have sorting abilities that allow for the organization of video footage, which can then be used to inform the shot list creation process.
Streamline Your Production with LÜK Network
All in all, shot listing is one of the many tools that when used properly allows the more dynamic, creative parts of this work to take over. It is an essential blueprint that supports peace of mind for producers going into a big shoot.
LÜK Network’s priority is to connect the best who with the best what: providing resources and connecting dots for producers. In that spirit, we hope this shot list guide will help ensure each producer’s creative vision and crew are properly elevated and supported. If casting on the other hand presents itself as an area in need of support, please give us a shout.
We’d love to take that off your plate, or at the very least, super charge that part of your work, too.