Over the Shoulder Shot

What is an Over the Shoulder Shot?

An Over the Shoulder Shot (OTS) is a type of camera angle often used in film-making, video production, and photography. It involves placing the camera behind a person, focusing on the subject they are looking at, while still keeping a portion of their back or shoulder in the frame. This technique is commonly used to highlight conversations or interactions between characters, giving viewers a perspective as if they are part of the scene.

Why Use an Over the Shoulder Shot?

Over the Shoulder Shots are not just a stylistic choice; they serve multiple purposes in visual storytelling:

  • Engages the audience: By positioning the camera over the shoulder, the audience feels like they’re part of the conversation or action. It creates a sense of intimacy and engagement.
  • Establishes spatial relationships: This shot helps establish the spatial relationship between characters and their environment. It can demonstrate character dynamics and power relationships.
  • Guides viewer’s focus: By framing the subject with the foreground character’s shoulder, it guides the viewer’s attention directly to the subject or action.

How to Set Up an Over the Shoulder Shot?

Now that we’ve understood the why, let’s look at the how. Here are some steps to effectively set up an Over the Shoulder Shot:

  1. Position the camera: Place the camera behind one of the characters, ensuring that a portion of their shoulder or back is visible in the frame.
  2. Focus on the subject: Adjust the camera’s focus to the subject the foreground character is looking at or interacting with.
  3. Consider the composition: Pay attention to the balance and composition of the frame. The foreground character’s shoulder should not dominate the scene.
  4. Ensure continuity: For conversations, ensure that the characters are looking in the correct direction to maintain screen direction continuity.

Mastering the Over the Shoulder Shot

Mastering the Over the Shoulder Shot requires practice and a deep understanding of its potential effects on storytelling. Remember, the goal is to draw the viewer into the scene and guide their focus. As with any camera technique, don’t overdo it. Use it wisely to enhance your story and engage your audience.

So, the next time you’re filming a dialogue scene or want to create a sense of intimacy in your video, consider using an Over the Shoulder Shot. It’s a powerful tool in the videographer’s arsenal, and when used effectively, can greatly enhance your visual storytelling.

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