If a shot is too short, the viewer won’t have enough time to consume the information. If the shot is too long, the viewer’s attention might wander. The time limit for a shot, depending how complex it is, is about 15 seconds before a viewer is likely to lose interest.

Film Editing The Length of ShotsThe ideal length of a shot really depends on its purpose. An antique item might hold a shot for a minute while someone on a shopping network describes it. A shot that includes a knowing look between two characters might just be a second long.

Here are some other things that influence how long a shot should be:

  • The amount of information you want the viewer to absorb.
  • How obvious that information is to see and discern.
  • How much action or change the shot has.
  • Picture quality – detail does hold interest.

Audience attention is keyed in to production pace. A quick bit of information during a slow scene might not be picked up as well as during a fast-paced scene, because the viewer is cued-in to tension delivered by the fast pace, and is paying more attention to the screen.