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Learn How This Camera Acting Art Can Make You a Star Actor

Acting for the camera

It is absolutely essential for actors to know and understand movie camera, scenes, angles and shots and changes. The mistakes committed by actors in shot results in many retakes which result in a waste of time, extra work for crew and co-actors and a loss of time and money.

The common mistakes made by actors: 

  1. Forgetting how you have exactly you have done in the first shot-your dialogues, movements, gesture etc. Even minor changes (like adding "array", forgetting a few words or changing gestures etc) in subsequent shots due to the change of the Angles of the original sheet may result in a re take which annoys everybody on the set.
  2. Therefore an actor must remember what he/she has done in the first shot and must repeat exactly in another angle shot. Example: master shot to middle shot to close up shot to OTS shot. Many professional actors either write down what they have done in the first shot or remain in the character till the next shot. They never take any break or chit chat.
  3. The objective angle is the most common in movies. It is the "fly on the wall" viewpoint where the audience sees what is happening, but as though they were there, invisible and enjoys what’s going on in a scene. In this kind of shot, if an actor looks directly at the camera, even by a mistake (which means he is looking at the audience), the audience feels cheated. The actors must never look directly at the camera lens for that will destroy the illusion of the objective angle and require a re-take.
  4. To know where the camera is and what kind of camera angle is important for actors to position one’s body and particularly face/looks. Lack of this knowledge may result in your poor visibility by a camera and consequently by an editor who may remove you from a final cut.

Key tips nobody will tell you about Camera Acting Art

  1. Know where the camera is at all times and position yourself accordingly. Try, that your face is viewed by a camera.
  2. Never look at the camera lens unless told so.
  3. Never ask a director for anything related to camera e.g. Where to look, angle, face, whether you are in the frame of not. Ask cameraman.
  4. Generally, ignore camera lens. Let it find you
  5. Keep an imaginary narrow path in front of a camera and be careful of your movements and gestures. Usually, shots are composed in depth, not width.
  6. If you find difficult to hit a mark while moving, do quick rehearsals and count floor tiles or other props you cross to reach to your mark. Remember this count while walking and reaching to a mark as desired by the cameraman.
  7. Do not stop if you mess up like forgetting lines or thinking that a shot is over. Keep going till director says "Cut". Let this be a director's decision.
  8. The intensity in an emotion, on camera, can be increased by appropriate expressions and pace. NOT by volume.
  9. Remain in a character even when a shot is over. You may have to go for a retake immediately, not necessarily due to your fault but may due to some technical fault somewhere or by somebody else.
  10. Always remember what you did in a shot. Write down. Shots in a scene may not be in order and you would be required to maintain continuity.
  11. Listen attentively to your co-actors and react even if you don't have any dialogue. An editor loves this (Reaction shots).
  12. When the camera is tracking you (moving) with you, you may talk fast but walk slowly. 

What an actor should know:


It refers to the camera work, part of the production process. In other words, how is the camera used and what are the storytelling elements that can be controlled through a thorough understanding of how to use the film making camera.

Film Coverage

Coverage is a cinematography term that refers to shooting a scene from a variety of angles and distances so you will have the raw material necessary to edit the scene together into an interesting visual and emotional experience for the audience. Each of the shots, or individual angles, requires a different setup.
A motion picture is made up of many shots. Each shot should be from the best angle to tell this part of the story the way you want your audience to experience it.
Usually, this means the angle that shows the actors and setting most clearly, but sometimes you may want to fool the audience by not showing what's happening.
Every time the camera is moved for a new setup actors need to ask yourself if this is the best camera angle for telling this part of the story. The camera angles are an important part of what makes a film work.
It is important to understand the difference between scene, shot and sequence.

1. A scene
 Is the exact location where the action is happening.

2. A shot
Is a single continuous angle of view that probably only shows one part of the action at the scene. A sequence is a complete "chapter" of the story.
When the shot is filmed that is a take. If the "take" isn't good, then there will need to be another take, also known as a re-take.

This example may explain it better: 

A sequence starts with a teen girl arguing with her mother in the kitchen. The teen then goes to the living room where she has a heated discussion with her father. Finally, she goes to her bedroom where she calls her boyfriend to tell him she has decided to run away from home. This sequence tells a complete part of the story, but consists of three scenes, and no doubt, several shots in each scene. And unless the actors were amazingly good there would be a number of takes of each shot.

3. A sequence 
Typically consists of several scenes, and a scene typically consists of several shots. However, any combination is possible. It is possible for a sequence to have just one scene, and even for more than one sequence to happen in a single scene.
When describing different cinematic shots, different terms are used to indicate the amount of subject matter contained within a frame, how far away the camera is from the subject and the perspective of the viewer. Each different shot has a different purpose and effect. A change between two different shots is called a CUT.


1 . Extreme long shot (Establishing Shot)

Extreme long shot (Establishing Shot)

This can be taken as much as a half of a mile away and is generally used as a scene-setting, establishing shot. It normally shows an EXTERIOR, e.g. The outside of a building, or a landscape, and is often used to show scenes of thrilling action, eg in a war film or disaster movie. There will be very little detail visible in the shot, it's meant to give a general impression rather than specific information.

2. The Master Shot 

Is wide enough to include all the actors. If you are shooting on film and have a very small budget this may be the only shot you can get. Some films consist of nothing but master shots.

3. Wide Shot

Wide Shot Shows whole body or space. Establish scene or setting, allow room for action

Wide Shot Shows whole body or space. Establish scene or setting, allow room for action. This may be a single grouping of a few of the actors in a larger crowd scene when you want to concentrate on a single conversation.
Two-Shot - shows two characters related to one another, usually from the waist up. A Three Shot is three actors, a Four-Shot is four actors and so on.

4. Over-the-Shoulder


Is a medium or close up shot, including 2 actors taken over the shoulder of one actor and showing the face of the other actor.

5. Medium Shot

A medium shot

Is a shot showing actors from the waist up.

6. Close-up

Close-up shot
Author Kiran Pande  as an actor in a film in a close-up shot

Is a shot from the actor's neck up. Sometime a close-up is a little looser and includes the actor's shoulders.

7. Extreme Close-up

Extreme Close-up

Is so close that only part of the actor's face is visible. This angle can be used very powerfully at highly emotional moments. Save the extreme close-up for such emotional moments.

8. P.O.V. 

Point Of View

It means Point Of View. This shot is intended to show the audience what one of the characters sees, i.e. From the character's point of view.



High camera shot


.Eye level camera shot


Low angle  camera shot

 A low angle shot  increases the height and useful for short actors. It gives a sense of speeded motion. Low angles help give a sense of confusion to a viewer, of powerlessness within the action of a scene.


1. Pans

Panning of a camera

A movement which scans a scene horizontally. The camera is placed on a tripod, which operates as a stationary axis point as the camera is turned, often to follow a moving object which is kept in the middle of the frame.

2. Dolly Shots (Trolley Shots)

Dolly Shots (Trolley Shots)

Sometimes called TRUCKING or TRACKING shots. The camera is placed on a moving vehicle and moves alongside the action, generally following a moving figure or object. Complicated dolly shots will involve a track being laid on set for the camera to follow, hence the name. The camera might be mounted on a car, a plane, or even a shopping trolley. A dolly shot may be a good way of portraying movement, the journey of a character for instance, or for moving from a long shot to a close-up, gradually focusing the audience on a particular object or character.

3. Crane Shots

Basically, dolly-shots-in-the-air. A crane (or jib), is a large, heavy piece of equipment, but is a useful way of moving a camera - it can move up, down, left, right, swooping in on the action or moving diagonally out of it. The camera operator and camera are counterbalanced by a heavy weight, and trust their safety to a skilled crane/jib operator.

4. Steadicam Shots

Steadicam Shots
When removed from a tripod (its stand), a camera traditionally has to be wheeled about on a dolly, because the handheld camera gives a shaky 'photography' look that is unlike how we perceive the "world". The idea behind Steadicam is to let viewers see with camera movement, the way the eye sees, without going to the expense, or spending the time, to lay dolly (Trolly) track; but it has become much more useful. Using Steadicam, bold moving shots, that might have been impossible otherwise, can be achieved quickly and beautifully. The problems of negotiating cameras up staircases and through doorways have been resolved; difficulties of responding to unexpected occurrences, minimized; and the problems of shooting such as to not reveal dolly track, eliminated. In almost every feature film and major television production, Steadicam has become an indispensable tool.
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  1. No school in Mumbai or anywhere in India teaches you these points. Great post,sir.
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    Mohini S.

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