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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A close-up shot

In film, television, still photography and the comic strip medium a close-up tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots. Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene. Moving in to a close-up or away from a close-up is a common type of zooming.

Close-ups are used in many ways, for many reasons. Close-ups are often used as cutaways from a more distant shot to show detail, such as characters' emotions, or some intricate activity with their hands. Close cuts to characters' faces are used far more often in television than in movies; they are especially common in soap operas. For a director to deliberately avoid close-ups may create in the audience an emotional distance from the subject matter.

Close-ups are used for distinguishing main characters. Major characters are often given a close-up when they are introduced as a way of indicating their importance. Leading characters will have multiple close-ups. There is a long-standing stereotype of insecure actors desiring a close-up at every opportunity and counting the number of close-ups they received. An example of this stereotype occurs when the character Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, announces "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" as she is taken into police custody in the film's finale.

Close-up shot of a dog.

Close-up shots do not show the subject in the broad context of its surroundings. If overused, close-ups may leave viewers uncertain as to what they are seeing. Close-ups are rarely done with wide angle lenses, because perspective causes objects in the center of the picture to be unnaturally enlarged. Certain times, different directors will use wide angle lenses, because they can convey the message of confusion, and bring life to certain characters.


Types of close-up

There are various degrees of close-up depending on how tight (zoomed in) the shot is. The terminology varies between countries and even different companies, but in general these are:

  • Medium Close Up ("MCU" on camera scripts): Half-way between a mid shot and a close-up. Usually covers the subject's head and shoulders.
  • Close Up ("CU"): A certain feature, such as someone's head, takes up the whole frame.
  • Extreme Close Up ("ECU" or "XCU"): The shot is so tight that only a fraction of the focus of attention, such as someone's eyes, can be seen.
  • Lean-In: when the juxtaposition of shots in a sequence, usually in a scene of dialogue, starts with medium or long shots, for example, and ends with close-ups.
  • Lean-Out: the opposite as a lean-in, moving from close-ups out to longer shots.
  • Lean: when a lean-in is followed by a lean-out.

When the close-up is used in shooting, the focused on should not be put in the exactly middle of the frame. Instead, it should be located in the frame according to the law of golden section.

The history of the close-up

An early close-up, from D. W. Griffith's The Lonedale Operator (1911).

The earliest filmmakers — such as Thomas Edison, Auguste and Louis Lumière and Georges Méliès — tended not to use close-ups and preferred to frame their subjects in long shots. Film historians disagree as to which filmmaker first used a close-up, but D.W. Griffith used the shot extensively at an early date. For example, one of Griffith's short films, The Lonedale Operator (1911), makes significant use of a close-up of a wrench that a character pretends is a gun.

Close-ups may be more expensive than other shots due to the extra lighting and make-up needed.


  • Bordwell, David; Thompson, Kristin (2006). Film Art: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-331027-1. 

See also

Close Up
Format News/Current Affairs
Starring Mark Sainsbury
Paul Henry
Susan Wood (2004 - 2006)
Country of origin  New Zealand
Camera setup Multi-Camera
Running time 30 minutes (with commercials)
Original channel TV ONE
Picture format PAL
Original run 2004 – Present
External links
[Close Up Official website]

Close Up is a half-hour long New Zealand current affairs programme produced by Television New Zealand. The programme airs at 7.00pm weeknights (straight after One News) on TV One and is presented by Mark Sainsbury with Paul Henry as the back up supporting host.

The new Close Up began broadcasting on November 2, 2004 as a replacement for the Holmes show immediately after Paul Holmes announced his resignation[1] from TVNZ and that he would be presenting a similar show on Prime in 2005. The show was originally branded as Close Up at 7 using the existing Holmes studio but when the show relaunched in 2005 it was just branded as Close Up with a new-look studio.

Close Up was hosted by Susan Wood from its first show in 2004 until December 4, 2006 when she resigned from TVNZ, citing health problems[2].

Close Up competes with the TV3 current affairs show Campbell Live, and shares the same time slot with TV2 drama Shortland Street.

Previous version

In the 1980s, Close Up was a weekly, hour-long current affairs' programme, looking more in depth into domestic news topics of the day, much in the mould of 60 Minutes.


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