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The Camera Diagram

Lesson 1
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Lesson 2
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Lesson 3
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Lesson 4
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Lesson 5
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Lesson 6
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Lesson 7
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Lesson 8
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Lesson 9
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Lesson 10
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Contributed By Glen Berry

  1. Camera Diagram refines our Visualization
  2. Know the Physical Space
  3. The Camera Diagram Finds Redundancy
  4. Identify Your Camera Positions
When designing your storyboards and shot list, utilizing a camera diagram can be a valuable tool in perspective and logistical planning. Things can be chaotic and hectic on the set and it is easy to make a mistake with eye lines. The camera diagram will put your different angles on a map and allow you to move through your shots with greater ease.

Let’s look at the following diagram that describes a basic dialogue scene. The camera diagram describes the location and movement of objects in a space, as well as camera positions and angles. This is a very simple layout of a dialogue scene. Our actor, Joe, enters the door in the Northeast corner of the space and sits down at a table with Mary. They exchange lines of dialogue. Joe passes a document across the table to Mary, then gets up and leaves.

The shot list we have designed for this scene calls for seven shots to cover the scene. In our camera diagram, we first want to sketch out the floor plan. It is critical that you have an idea of the actual physical space you will be shooting in. Earlier, we discussed two concurrent paths in pre-production. By the time the director has come to this stage in planning his or her visualization, it would be extremely useful if the line producer had secured actual locations or had strong options. Then the director can walk through those locations and get an actual feel for the physical space. With that information, the director can then draw a diagram of the actual space and work out the camera placements and the blocking of the actors as described here. It cannot be emphasized enough that knowledge of the physical space is required to truly be prepared for production.


  • The camera diagram helps us see our shots, the movements of the actors and the physical space in a new way.
  • It is critical that we know the properties of the physical space we will be working in to design the camera diagram.
  • Seeing our camera placements laid out on the diagram helps us see which shots are similar and which ones can be eliminated.
  • The camera diagram helps us identify where each set-up will be made in advance. It is critical that the director know each position before production begins.
The Storyboard
An intro into storyboarding and why it is helpful in preproduction.
Storyboards are not Art
An interview with Martin Scorcese and Michael Chapman, the Director and Director of Photography of Taxi Driver on Storyboarding.
Taxi Driver Storyboard Example
A sample storyboard from Taxi Driver with matching shots from the finished product.
Murder Storyboard Analysis
An examination of the script, shot list, storyboard and final product for the "How to Get Away With Murder" project.
The Camera Diagram
The importance of the camera diagram as a tool to refine the director's visualization, as well as the importance of eye lines and the 180 degree rule.