AskDefine | Define closeup

Dictionary Definition

closeup n : a photograph taken at close range

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. In the context of "Filmology": A video or film recording made with the camera positioned close to an actor, often so that only the head or face is visible.


Extensive Definition

In film and television, a close-up tightly frames a person or object. The most common close-ups are ones of actors' faces.
Close-ups are often used as cutaways from a more distant shot to show detail, such as characters' emotions, or some intricate activity by their hands. Close cuts to characters' faces are used far more often in television than in movies; they are especially common in soap operas. Television shows that do not use close-ups are often described as creating an immediate feeling of emotional distance from the characters.
Close-ups are also 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.
One disadvantage of close-ups is that they do not show the relative positions of people and things; overuse of close-ups can quickly confuse an audience.

The history of the close-up

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 it's clear that D.W. Griffith was an early master of the technique. Previous filmmakers had used it, just not to the same effect or with the same understanding of its potential. 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 had pretended was a gun.
Over the years, the close-up has framed actors' faces more and more tightly. For instance, in the 1960s, Sergio Leone pioneered a technique of using extreme close-ups (ECUs or XCUs) that show no more than the actors' eyes.

Close-ups in Photography

Close-ups in still image photography are common.


  • Film Art: An Introduction

See also

closeup in German: Closeup
closeup in Persian: کلوزآپ
closeup in Italian: Close-up
closeup in Dutch: Close-up
closeup in Japanese: クローズアップ
closeup in Polish: Zbliżenie
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