“If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”

Alfred Hitchcock



Standing on set and watching the scene is just one part of the job as On Set Costumer.

Being able to see the monitors can sometimes be difficult due to either the location or the amount people around them. I often try to stand behind/near the cameras while rolling; this allows me to watch the entire action and what the actors do during the scene.


Most scenes follow a pattern for filming, wide shot or master and then slowly the shots get tighter with coverage. Although some directors like to start with the tight shots first, some feel the emotions can be stronger in the first few takes of a scene.

If you are working on a scene that starts with tight shots first and you are at the monitors you may not be able to see what is happening for the wider shot. Such as jacket removal or if the purse/bag goes to the floor or the table. If you are watching the actors and not the monitor you will be able to reset quickly for the next take, and not have to ask what their actions were during the take.

Finding out what the lens is and how it differs by the distance the camera is set at is great and something worth learning. This can vary depending on which camera and lens package that they are using so it can be fun challenge to see if you know your stuff.

Understanding the way shots are described helps you to imagine what the camera will see during the shot.

FOR EXAMPLE: in the scene, the actor opens the main door, enters, walks across the room, drops his bag on the table, then walks through a 2nd door.

• If we start with a wide master shot then we would see head to toe of the actor for most if not all of the shot.

• If we start with a tighter shot then the shots will vary if we follow him through the scene.

If it is tight I ask the operator what the shot is, and this is something he could say:

• He starts in a Head to Toe at the door, then

• He walks into a Cowboy

• At the table it’s a Waister

• At the 2nd door it’s a Tight Shot.

With this information I am able to visualize what the entire scene will look like and I can do my final touches quickly and confidently.

If there is a second camera, ask that operator as well, because often B camera is getting the detail shots:

• Tight shot of key in door.

• Tight shot of bag on table

• ECU of eyes as he enters 2nd door.


Click on this photo to see a few more description or various shots you will here!
Great blog: Filmmaking Lab: Art, Technology & Tools by Joseph Eulo.

Here is a basic list of names of the shots you will hear on the set:

ECU/Extreme Close-Up/Screamer: A piece of the actor’s face, such as eyes to mouth or even tighter.

CU/Close-Up/Tight Shot: Usually From just below the chin to the Actor’s Hairline, (this can be termed as “giving a haircut”). This shot can be wider to collar bone as well.

MCU/Medium Close-Up/Two-T’s/Bust Shot/Head and Shoulders: This shot is normally mid chest to top of head with clearance. But can be called a Tight 2 T’s and will be above mid chest with a “Haircut”

Medium Shot/Waister: Head to waist of the actor.

Cowboy: Stops at mid thigh or above knee. (This came in during the Westerns this shot allowed the audience to see the all-important holster of the gunslinger!)

Long Shot/Wide Shot/Head-to-toe/Full Shot: A shot holding the entire body of the actor. (Costumer’s often say it’s a shoe shot because we need to make sure they are in the costume appropriate shoes for this one!)

50/50/Roman Coins: This describes a shot of two actors talking to each other in profile and can be done in tight or wide. (I love the Roman coins! Not one you hear often but I think it is so much fun!)

These are just a few shots descriptions that can affect us in the wardrobe department the most. There are many more and all worth knowing.

If you know what the shot is that is lined up you won’t get caught shining shoes on a tight shot… unless it is a tight shot of the shoes!!

Have some fun out there and see what other shots you can add to your list to make final touches a flash!


1 thought on ““If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”

  1. Wow! I didn’t know all those terms!!! You know what my favorite is? When you’re trying to watch the shot on the monitors + the producers are all sitting in front of them, reading newspapers – so no one can see what’s going on. Classic producers…

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