One of the first things you learn in filmmaking is the importance of coverage. It’s a concept that comes up time and time again in your career as a filmmaker.

You’ll quickly realize that coverage is one of the most important aspects of filmmaking — yet, it’s also one of the hardest to master!

A common question that arises in filmmaking is what does it mean to cover a scene? And how do you go about covering a scene for maximum efficiency and creativity?

In this article, we’ll look at what coverage is, what the nice-to-have elements are and how to approach coverage from a storytelling perspective.

We’ll also offer tips on how to make sure you get sufficient coverage. So grab your camera and let’s get started!


What Is film coverage

What Is film coverage?

For those new to film production, coverage is the process of filming multiple angles, shots, and performances of a scene.

It’s called coverage because it covers all the necessary elements required to edit the scene together in post-production.

In television, coverage is considered standard practice as scenes are often shot out of sequence on a tight shooting schedule.

Coverage ensures that there are enough options available in the edit for the editor to put together an interesting and engaging version of the scene.

For independent filmmakers, it’s not always possible to get extensive coverage due to scheduling constraints, budget, or even just not knowing how to do it.

But if you’re working on something with more time and resources available then getting good coverage will make your life much easier in post-production.



What Is Coverage In Filmmaking?

Coverage can be a confusing term to some filmmakers. It refers to the practice of filming multiple angles of a scene to create options in the edit.

In Hollywood, coverage is an essential part of the process of filmmaking and is often considered one of the most important elements.

It all begins with the script and breaking down the scenes into their element parts. Once a scene is broken down, the director will choose which shots they want to create the scene.

The choices made in pre-production are usually based on how they want each shot to feel and how they want each shot to play off each other in editing. Coverage is also dependent on budget as well as time constraints.

Once every shot is chosen based on story or style, multiple versions of that same shot are filmed for later use in editing.

Those shots can be used for different styles of editing or just used as backup footage if something goes wrong during production.

You will hear the phrase ‘coverage’ used quite a bit when you watch DVD extras or film features like behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, and featurettes about specific films or films in general.

The term has been around for decades and it’s a good idea when beginning your filmmaking journey to understand what it means.

Basic Camera Shots For Film Coverage

Coverage, in filmmaking, is the amount of film devoted to a particular scene. In general, the more important the scene or sequence being filmed, the more coverage it will get.

Coverage can be described as consisting of two main parts:

  • master shots, and
  • close-ups.

Master Shots

A master shot is a long shot that shows the entire cast of characters involved in a scene and their surroundings.

It generally does not focus on any one character in particular, but rather encompasses the entire scene in one view. Master shots are typically filmed from a tripod to ensure stability.


Close-ups are shots taken from closer angles that show only one character at a time. They are used to highlight specific characters and/or their emotions during a given moment in the film.

Close-ups are often used after master shots have been shot so that different angles can be obtained for each scene.

Once the key scenes have been shot with master shots and close-ups, coverage moves on to establishing shots and insert shots.

Establishing Shots

An establishing shot is an exterior shot that shows where the action is taking place, such as outside a house or inside an office building.

Establishing shots are usually filmed before any interior scenes take place so that the audience knows where they should expect the action to take place next.

Coverage In Cinematography

Coverage is a term used in cinematography. It refers to the angle from which the action is viewed by the camera. Tilt shots are slightly elevated angles that provide a complete view of the subject.

A tilt shot can be used for almost any activity, but it is usually reserved for more formal situations such as speeches or award presentations. Tilt shots are often combined with reverse angle coverage of secondary characters listening to or reacting to the speaker.

A Bird’s-Eye-View Shot gives the audience an aerial view of the action. This perspective is frequently used to convey a sense of power or majesty, especially when combined with slow motion.

A Reverse Angle Coverage shot is filmed from a camera position opposite that of the primary camera position, providing a second angle on the action and allowing viewers to see what secondary characters are doing while other action takes place in front of them.

A Low Angle Shot provides an elevated perspective on an object or character, often conveying a sense of power or strength, as when a despot addresses his subjects.

A High Angle Shot provides an elevated perspective on an object or character, often conveying a sense of vulnerability or weakness, as when children look up at adults.

Film Coverage Shot Listing Efficiently

A shot listing for film coverage is a list of the scenes or shots that will be filmed, along with any relevant information, such as scene numbers, scene descriptions, and camera angles. The shot listing is used by the production staff in order to ensure that all of the footage needed for the production is captured during filming.

The purpose of a shot listing is to specify exactly what material needs to be recorded. Shot listings are generally prepared by the assistant director (AD), who works with the script supervisor (SS) and production manager (PM) on a daily basis.

The AD’s role is threefold: firstly, he or she must make sure that all coverage required for each and every scene in a production is included in the final edit. secondly, he or she must make sure that there is sufficient coverage of any action required; and lastly, he or she must ensure that all coverage necessary for each specific actor’s performance is recorded.

Shot listings consist of a list of every film take needed to tell the story, including angle changes and location moves. In this way it functions as a guide for both the script supervisor as well as the production crew regarding what action to capture on film during principal photography.

Shooting Your Coverage In One Take Filmmaking

Filmmaking is more than just pointing a camera at a subject and pushing record. Filmmaking is about telling a story, and the best way to tell a story is with continuity.

This means that if you are following someone in one shot, then the next shot should continue to follow them in the same direction.In order for this to work seamlessly you need to plan out your shots so that they all flow together well.

Trying to shoot your coverage in one take is not only a great way to save time during production but it also makes your video feel professional, organized and planned.It also forces you to be thorough in your planning and preparation so that you have enough coverage for every scene in your video.

When shooting your coverage in one take, there are some rules that you will want to stick by:

1) Every shot should follow the action of the last shot. For example if you were on a person’s left side in the last shot continue on their left side in the next shot unless you get an amazing cut away that adds something important to the story line (like showing their face).

2) Every single time you go from over the shoulder or behind the back of a character and come back into another over the shoulder or behind the back.

Basic Camera Shots for Traditional Film Coverage

There are many types of shots that a cinematographer can use in order to capture the scene. Traditional film coverage is the technique of shooting a scene from many different camera angles and perspectives in order to be able to edit the footage into the final product.

As you start out in this business, you will be asked to shoot these types of shots, as they are relatively easy to set up and understand. The first basic shot is called “over-the-shoulder” or OTS (pronounced “ots”).

This shot is used for two people having a conversation with each other. It shows one person from behind looking at another person, who is usually looking into the camera.

The reason it is called over-the-shoulder is because one side of the first person’s body, usually their shoulder and arm, covers part of the second person’s body. Another basic shot type is called “two-shot.”

This shot uses two subjects, usually actors or actresses, which will be filmed together.The camera will capture both subjects at once with equal screen time.

Usually one actor is on the left side of the screen and one actor or actress is on the right side of the screen. This next type of camera shot is called “full figure.”

Master or Wide Shot (WS) In Filmmaking

A master shot, or wide shot (WS), is an extremely important tool used in filmmaking. It’s the largest view of a scene and usually encompasses the entire picture.

The most common types of master shots are establishing shots, which are used to introduce the setting in a film, and reaction shots, which portray characters’ reactions at a certain moment.A master shot is generally used at the beginning of a scene to establish time and place.

A director may use several different camera angles – close ups, medium shots, and long shots – to show various perspectives of his film’s story.

Master shots can be used throughout a movie to create a sense of flow between scenes and to develop character relationships throughout the story. The master shot is one of the most important shots in filmmaking because it sets up the scene.

It lets you see who is present in the scene, what they’re doing, how they’re interacting with each other and how they relate to their environment. Master shots typically include all characters involved in a scene and show their interaction with each other and with their surroundings.

A master shot can be anywhere from two seconds long to as much as 10 minutes long or more depending on what’s taking place in the shot and how many people are included.

Medium Shots (MS) In Filmmaking

There are times when it may be appropriate to use a medium shot. In general, MS shots are used in dialogue scenes and they provide a good combination of close-up detail and full figure view.


Medium shots are among the most difficult angles to shoot. They’re not quite as demanding as a close-up because you have more room for error, but they’re also more difficult than a long shot because you have less room for error.

Here’s how to get a good medium shot:

  1. Position yourself about 2/3 the way back from your subject at an angle of about 30 degrees. (If you want to be super technical, here’s how that works on a right-handed camera: If the actor is facing left, position yourself on the actor’s right.
  2. If she’s facing right, position yourself on her left.) This will allow you to see her face clearly without having too much empty space around her body. 2.
  3. Make sure you have some foreground to frame your subject with. If there is nothing in front of your subject, it will appear as if she is standing alone in an empty void.3. Keep your focus about 4 feet in front of the actor at around chest height. 4.

Close Ups (CU) In Filmmaking

Learn the basics of close up shots and how they are used in film. A closeup (or CU) is a shot that frames an object so as to emphasize its importance within the scene.

A closeup may be used to reveal details of the subject that would otherwise go unnoticed, or to present an object that would be too small if seen from a distance.The term “closeup” generally refers to macro-photography (close-ups of small objects such as flowers, insects, jewelry, coins, and stamps).

The term also applies to filming techniques (extreme close-ups of human faces) and the use of telephoto lenses to distort perspective.

Film directors sometimes use a mirror or a lens flare “effect” to add cinematic interest to a shot. Close-ups are common cinematographic tools and are practiced in filmmaking and video production.

In television, one popular use is in interviews where subjects are filmed with a fixed camera very close; sometimes filling the screen with just part of the face. A “cutaway” shot will then switch back to a wider angle showing the subject’s head and shoulders with more context for their answer.[1]

Color photography often makes use of relatively wide angle lenses; therefore it is possible to include both the subject.

Over-the-Shoulder Shots (OTS) In Filmmaking

Hello again friends. Welcome to another edition of the Film Theory Guy. Today we are going to talk about a second angle shot in film making, and no, it’s not the “over the shoulder” shot like I referenced in my previous article.

In film making, there is a second angle shot that is used all the time, and it is usually called an “over-the-shoulder” or “OTS” shot. This shot can be used as a close up shot or even a two shot depending on how you use it.

but the main purpose of this particular type of shot is to show one character looking at another character while they are talking in order to create more dramatic tension between them. It can also be used to show them listening to each other while they speak, which I will get into later with examples.

The over-the-shoulder shot is a very common type of film making technique used by many famous directors and cinematographers from all around the world. This type of camera angle has been featured in many famous films such as “Goodfellas,” by Martin Scorsese, “The Shawshank Redemption,” by Frank Darabont, “Se7en,” by David Fincher and many more.

Film Coverage And Blocking

Film coverage is a term used by cinematographers to describe how they position their camera on the set, and how they use the camera to capture images. It is one of the most important elements in directing the motion of a film, especially in capturing a sense of realism.

Truly realistic films, such as those made about events that happened not long ago or in recent memory, often have a specific problem with film coverage. They are trying to show something that we already have plenty of pictures or video footage of. There’s usually no need to do something “new” with the camera; especially if you’re making a documentary. Your job is not to make anything new but simply to document what happened.

You can’t re-create history, but you can certainly preserve it as well as possible for future generations. Let’s take a look at four different types of coverage and blocking and see how each approach would be useful in different situations.

Firstly there is Full Coverage (sometimes called Wide Coverage). This is when the camera moves around an area and shows everything within it, whether it’s important or not. It’s generally used when the director wants to show off all aspects of a location, or when he needs to introduce the viewer to everything that will be seen.

Advanced Film Coverage

Film coverage is an insurance policy that pays for a portion of certain film production costs in the event a film is not completed or can’t be released. Film coverage protects investors by guaranteeing them to get some of their money back if the film doesn’t succeed.

Trouble with the law, burdensome actors, actors and directors leaving the project, heading over budget and other problems are just some of the reasons why films can get shut down. Insurers like to see a strong producer credit on the movie because that means there’s a proven track record for completing successful projects. They also like to see a top director attached because that usually translates into good box office results.

The more people involved in producing or acting in the film, the higher risk there is for problems. That’s why most policies have limits on how many people can be listed as “named insureds.”

Most policies require that at least two weeks of principal photography has been completed before they will issue a policy. That’s not always enough time to shoot all of the scenes required for low-budget indie movies.

However, some insurers will consider issuing coverage earlier if they like the script and think it has potential to be successful. If you’re shooting your movie with less than $1 million.