Video Production Tips

What is a film shot list? How to make a shot list for online videos?

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From YouTube sensation vloggers and newly minted TikTokers to big-name Hollywood directors, the shot list is a heavy hitter in any video creator’s toolkit. If you want your next video production to go smoother than ever before, read on and discover the pre-production powers of a shot list and how a film shot list template goes hand-in-hand with storyboarding and scriptwriting

Filming-What is a film shot list? How to make a shot list for online videos?-Clipchamp blog

In this blog, we’ll cover: 

  • What is a shot list?

  • Is a shot list just another type of storyboard?

  • Why do videos and films need a shot list?

  • Where can a shot list be used?

  • Do social media videos need a shot list?

  • What are the key elements of a good shot list? 

  • How to create a shot list

  • How to work with a script and shot list in parallel

  • Where to find a good shot list template

Writing shot list-What is a film shot list? How to make a shot list for online videos?-Clipchamp blog

What is a shot list?

A shot list is a detailed list of every camera shot that needs to be captured in video production. When producing a film, the shot list is created by the director and the cinematographer during pre-production. A good shot list will outline the precise specifics of every shot—what type of camera, shot size, and shot type. 

The shot list is essential for any shooting schedule as its purpose is to give the film crew in the film production a blueprint with key details of what will be captured on the shoot day.

 When it comes to film production, schedules are everything. By detailing what each shot needs to look like including the shot type, camera movement, camera angle, action, audio, equipment required, and also where the subject will be positioned. 

Ultimately, giving video production a sense of direction! (Get it: direction!)

Film start-What is a film shot list? How to make a shot list for online videos?-Clipchamp blog

Is a shot list just another type of storyboard?

Not exactly, but they are complementary to one other. A storyboard breaks down each scene of a video to show your cinematographer and production designer your vision for each particular scene, whereas a shot list is the breaks down each shot of each scene and the order in which you plan to shoot them.

As we already know, a shot list also includes specific details—such as lighting direction and camera placement—it’s basically the pre-production bible. 

After you craft your storyboard, you then focus on the specifics of each shot in every scene of your storyboard—saving you precious time during production.  

And, the best part? Even if your storyboard is just a bunch of stick-figure drawings, your shot list gives you the chance to use your words and explain what’s happening in the scene—so you don’t have to be an illustrator to be an amazing video director or even an amateur video creator for that matter. 

Why do videos and films need a shot list? 

We already know that a shot list works to create the connection between your storyboard and the technical steps required to bring your vision to life. What is also ensured is the kind of organization that will improve the quality of your video and makes efficient use of valuable time. 

It’s interesting to know that movies are not often shot sequentially (in the order you see in the finished production), as skipping from scene to scene and back again would be costly, slow and frustrating. That’s where the handy shot list comes in—to help determine the most efficient shooting schedule possible. For example, if a scene needs to be shot with both a wide shot and closeup angles with different size lens, the crew can save time and arrange the shots according to lens setup and type of camera required.

A shot list also keeps film production on track with a shooting schedule that ensures all crew members know which scenes are being filmed when. It provides call times for the talent, a guide for what lighting setups need to be created, and what locations, set pieces, and props need to be ready to roll.

Filming-What is a film shot list? How to make a shot list for online videos?-Clipchamp blog

Where can a shot list be used? 

Sure shot lists are essential for large film production with several cast members, but a film shot list can also be handy for shooting a video for TikTok, Instagram, Linkedin, or Facebook. You can also use a simple camera shot list template for a stills photoshoot (maybe an upcoming campaign for a fashion brand or staff photos for your company website) or a promo video shoot for your company, brand or product. 

It’s all about thinking ahead and doing the work of setting the scene before it comes to shoot day. 

If you’re not quite at Martin Scorsese level film directing but still want to create a clever video with a storyline for your brand, you could begin by crafting a short video using Clipchamp’s ready-to-go video templates that you can customize to make your own. 

Do social media videos need a shot list? 

When it comes to creating quality social media video content, as mentioned above, it sure can’t hurt! Whenever you’re filming anything with a camera, it’s a good idea to plan out your shots. 

When creating a video for social media, here are some pre-production questions that having a shot list will help you to consider:

  • Sound—will your video make sense without sound? A lot of people scroll through social media with their sound turned off, so you need to consider your shot list to get the right footage that helps tell your story—with or without sound!

  • Lighting—are you shooting indoors, outdoors or both? What equipment might you need to get the lighting right?

  • Talent—are you creating a video with people or a product? Have you communicated with the talent about what to wear and what they’ll be saying on camera?

  • Are you demonstrating a product and have you considered how this will be shown in step-by-step detail on film?

Check out these examples of social media videos that clearly thought it through:

Instagram 1

Instagram 2

Instagram 3

And some who maybe didn’t so much?

What are the key elements of a good shot list? 

While there might be varying levels of detail and equipment required when it comes to ‘how to make a shot list for a TikTok or IGTV video’ and ‘how to make a shot list for a film’… the same thinking can be applied to both: what do I need to capture and how?

How to create a shot list

Here’s a checklist for how to create a shot list

  • Scene number - for example, the balcony scene in Romeo & Juliet 

  • Shot number - a number assigned to each individual shot

  • Shot size - how big or small the subject is in the frame

  • Shot type - the camera angles, or how the camera frames the subject (for example, is it a wide shot?)

  • Location - where the shot is being filmed

  • Shot description - short description of the action and/or dialogue

  • Movement - how the camera does (or doesn’t) move within the shot

  • Talent or actors involved

  • Lens - the camera lens used to capture the shot

  • Equipment - the type of camera that captures the shot (especially if using more than one camera)

  • Sound - how the sound and/or dialogue are captured (for example, is it a boom mic or a voice-over?)

  • Time estimate - approximate how long it will take to set up (not shoot) each shot

  • Frame rate - the frequency at which the frames are captured

  • Props needed - is there a car in the scene, or a pet goldfish?

  • Any extra notes - the director may share some extra motivation about the shot with the crew 

How to work with a script and shot list in parallel

Your script is the masterplan of your film or video project, but it doesn’t tell you everything. For starters, your script breakdown doesn’t detail where the camera will be for each set-up. The shot list is needed to help you determine how many angles each scene may require. One handy method to link together your script and your shot list is to make a lined script. By lining the script with the intended shot list it helps the director to decide what different types of camera shots will give the best coverage and also helps prepare them for inevitable changes once on set.

Here’s an example of how to line a film script:

Where to find a good shot list template

A quick internet search will offer up many free options for a shot list template, but which is the best? That depends on how you like to work—are you a Google Sheets lover or more of an Excel expert? You can make your own shot list or simply download a template and go from there. 

Make sure it includes the basics: 

  • Shot number

  • Shot angle

  • Shot description

  • Equipment  

  • Notes 

Trusted sites with downloadable templates:

MasterClass

Boords

Got a few video ideas up your sleeve and ready to whip up that shot list to make them happen? Great! We’re here to help with all your video editing, exporting, recording, learning, and more! Sign up to Clipchamp today and see how we make video easy!

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Written by Rachel Surgeoner on March 9, 2021
About the Author

Rachel Surgeoner is a lifestyle writer and good food enthusiast. When not researching the latest video and social media trends for Clipchamp, you'll find her either in the kitchen whipping up a batch of homemade pasta or tending to the backyard veggie patch.

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