Shot vs. Scene vs. Sequence- What's the Difference

Shot vs. Scene vs. Sequence: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re entirely new to cinematographer and just finding yourself in a position to familiarize yourself with the different terminology, or you’ve actually landed a few positions assisting out on a film set and you’ve noticed yourself struggling understand the terminology that’s used, getting to know all the different lingo used in the film industry can be challenging at best. You’ve probably heard terms like shot, scene and sequence used in describing the script, or different elements of the production, but what’s the difference between shot vs. scene vs. sequence and what’s it all mean on the film set?

BBP camera crew filming on location

What is a Shot?

In filmmaking, each shot is a single take. The shot might be several seconds or multiple minutes long depending on the individual needs of the film. Multiple shots are captured within a scene to make up the scene composition of the film.

So, you might hear the cinematographer or director discussing a particular shot. Mentioning the desired angle and action that are to take place during the filming of the shot. There will be multiple shots captured within a scene.

What is a Scene?

Every script is made up of individual scenes. These scenes represent the unit elements of the story and make up the majority of what you might know as the script or screenplay. When filming a scene, a particular set composition takes place and multiple shots are composed.

Multiple shots are captured within each scene. Together, these shots are then manipulated so that they make up the scene and deliver the visual details of the story for that particular part.

What is a Sequence?

A sequence is made up of multiple scenes. So, you will have several shots that make up a scene and several scenes that make up a film sequence.

Together, a finished film or movie that you watch is the result of many shots, formulated into many individual scenes which are sequenced together. Thus, a sequence is the composition of several scenes consisting of several shots.

Shot vs. Scene vs. Sequence

A shot is the simplest form of production consisting of a single camera shot. Each shot can include various angles but represents a single take from a single camera.

Multiple cameras can be used to capture multiple shots or takes at a time. The difference between shot vs scene vs sequence is in the composition. Multiple shots make up the next element, a scene.

A scene is essentially a single setting of the narrative. A film is made up of many different scenes which can take place in different locations or at different times of the day, etc.

In Summary

Finally, the difference in shot vs. scene vs. sequence is that the sequence is the largest building block of the film representing the composition of many shots that result in multiple scenes which are formulated or organized into several sequences.

A finished move is the result of several sequences strung together. 

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