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A Guide to Over the Shoulder Shots

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  • A Guide to Over the Shoulder Shots

    Hi everyone! I wanted to share how to properly format the over shoulder shot in your stories. Let's start with the right way and the not-so-right way.



    The right way to do OTS shots is to have the characters up close to the screen (or zoom in on the characters). The REAR character should be larger than the FRONT facing character. But when you have the characters the same size, like the not-so-right way, it looks like REAR is standing right next to FRONT, and it looks kind of weird. If it were a real camera shooting real people, the person facing REAR would be closer to the camera, and the FRONT facing person would be farther from the camera. Like this photo:



    Also, the FRONT facing character is the focus of the OTS shot, so they should be given as much room as possible, meaning don't let REAR cover up the majority of the screen. FRONT needs as much room as possible so you can see all their talking animations.
    The best way to line the characters up is by chin to chin, like so:



    And finally! Use different backgrounds (or a different zone or spot) when you switch the characters around and change the view. If you have the characters stay in the same background, zone, or spot when you switch them around, it doesn't look right. It looks like they literally just switched spots without the screen/camera moving.

    Correct way:



    The not-so-correct way:



    One more thing you should know: in a male with female OTS scene, when the female is rear she needs to be even bigger than when the male was rear, because the female character is slightly smaller than the male character, so when she's rear it just looks like she's the same size of the male.

    Thank you for reading! I hope this helps you with your over the shoulder shots in all your stories!!


    If you're wondering what background and spots my characters are in to use for reference, here it is:

    EXT. FLOWER GARDEN - DAY
    &FEMALE spot 2.11 240 -386 in zone 1 at layer 0 AND FEMALE faces left AND FEMALE is idle
    &MALE spot 2.400 60 -540 in zone 1 at layer 1 and MALE faces left and MALE is rear
    @cut to zone 1

    &FEMALE spot 2.6 265 -640 in zone 3 at layer 1 AND FEMALE faces right AND FEMALE is rear
    &MALE spot 2.11 90 -394 in zone 3 at layer 0 AND MALE faces right and MALE is idle
    @cut to zone 3

  • #2
    This is really helpful!?!??!?! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

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    • Dara Amarie
      Dara Amarie commented
      Editing a comment
      No problem Happy to share my tips!

  • #3
    Hi Dara Amarie . Thank you so much for your hard word and contribution to the forums. I have gone ahead and stickied this topic so it's a bit easier for everyone to see. Keep up the great work and thanks again.

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    • Dara Amarie
      Dara Amarie commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh yay! Thanks!

  • #4
    This was so helpful, thank you for making this!

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    • Dara Amarie
      Dara Amarie commented
      Editing a comment
      You're super welcome

  • #5
    Wow, this is super helpful! Great contribution!

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    • Dara Amarie
      Dara Amarie commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks!

  • #6
    Oh, this is so cool! It probably would've taken me almost half an hour to get this figured out on my own.

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    • #7
      This is really great! Makes your story look so much more professional! Thanks!

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      • #8
        So lets say in this story I want the camera to face the character as he/she speaks and switch back & fourth as a the dialogue continues..Would the script be different for that or...?

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        • Dara Amarie
          Dara Amarie commented
          Editing a comment
          The last part of my post talks about that when you're switching views between characters.

      • #9
        Dara you make everything seem so easy!! Thanks for making this, I've been wanted to try OTS shots but was too worried it might be too hard. You're a star!! <3

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        • #10
          Thank You
          This was very helpful....

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          • #11
            #directinggoals

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            • #12
              Thank you for posting this! It's getting hard to read some stories with OTS shots. If they aren't done properly, it's very jarring for readers.

              PLEASE note that characters don't stay in the same position either!

              This is technical filmmaking stuff, but imagine that you've got a camera, and that your characters are standing on a line,

              --------- character A --------- character B -------

              make sure that you stay on the same side of that line at all times

              E.g. (camera is X)

              OTS on character A:


              --------- character A --------- character B -------
              ---------------------------------------X------------------


              OTS on character B:

              --------- character A --------- character B -------
              ------------------X---------------------------------------
              Last edited by thesktales; 07-16-2017, 05:49 PM.

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              • #13
                This is super helpful! Thank you so much Dara

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                • #14
                  yea totes thanks like awesome city totes the bomb.

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    How do you zoom out when you use this code?

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