A single camera drama is a “form of filmmaking that deploys the use of only one camera for all the shots” (masied, 2014)[1], as every shot is created independently and separately from one another. This format of work has benefits and drawbacks, most notably that a single camera drama can be cheaper to produce in terms of equipment, whilst being harder to record a shot from different angles (as the actors have to repeat the action per angle).

Single camera dramas are cheaper to produce, with only one camera. It also allows quicker retakes of a shot, as there is only one camera to focus on. However, there is less footage captured, making it time consuming to get the same shot from many different angles. Additionally, the important shots may not be recorded correctly, and the crew may need to book float days to reshoot some scenes.


A serial show is a “fictional story”, where the story is “continuation” of what has happened previously (Panigraphi, 2017)[2]. An example of a serial show would be Game of Thrones, where each episode builds upon one another to create a coherent, long-form story. A series show, on the other hand, usually has each episode self-contained, where previous episodes don’t affect other episodes. Additionally, series do not always need to be a fictional work. An example of a series would be a show on the National Geographic Channel, where the content does not carry over to the next.

The genre of a single camera production can affect how it is presented. The dramadoc genre, for instance, is a “hybrid genre” that is a representation of real events using actors (Oxford Dictionary, 2019)[3]. This type of genre would be presented in a serious way, compared to the comedy genre, which its sole purpose is to entertain. Crime shows would be presented in a dramatic way. These genres would be examples of series shows.

Alternatively, soap operas would be an example of a serial show; for example, the British programme Eastenders have “storylines that carry out over a lengthy amount of time” (masied, 2014)[1]. The show takes time to develop its storylines, and it plays out across a length of episodes, usually with a series covering a character arc.

Period piece works are “reminiscent of an earlier time period” (Willow and Thatch, 2019)[4]. These use past events, styles and themes to create a single camera production, to simulate a previous era.

Narrative structures

Different elements can affect the narrative structure of a piece of work. For instance, a work can be linear or non-linear; this is whether the plot follows a structure starting from the beginning and moves forward. A linear plot has a clear beginning, middle and end, whilst a non-linear work can feature flashbacks and flashforwards to tell its plot.

A realist narrative consists of “stories that could have actually occurred to people in a believable setting” (Wilson, 2019)[5]. Realist narratives are believable and resemble real life in terms of their believability. They often mirror an issue in our current society. Compare this to an anti-realist narrative, where it explicitly goes out its way to disregard believability and create a plot and structure that is less believable. This is used to juxtapose ideas towards realist narratives; it contradicts what is considered as normal.

Endings can be open or closed. This means that the ending can have “no fixed answer” for open endings (, 2019)[6], where the ending is up to the viewers interpretation and their imagination. Closed endings, on the other hand, have an explicit message to state, and as such, they close the ending down with something that can be interpreted in the way that the writer or director would like it to be interpreted.


Camera techniques affect how a production is interpreted and enjoyed. If the camera films every shot statically, it would be extremely uninteresting to watch. A way to alleviate this, for instance, is to use different camera shots. Wide-shots, mid-shots and close-up shots all affect how a shot is perceived. A close-up shot, for instance, could make the shot feel claustrophobic, and uneasy, whilst a wide shot could make a shot feel empty and alone. The usage of each shot type can affect how it is interpreted, and what mood it creates. This builds an atmosphere within the shot or scene.

Additionally, depth of field as a technique can affect how a shot is perceived. If it has a shallow depth of field, little of the background is in focus, making the viewers eyes gravitate towards what is in focus. Alternatively, if it uses a deep depth of field, everything is in focus, and can make the audience think there are clues hidden in the background (for example, if it was a crime drama). Shot types and techniques can drastically affect how a film is perceived by its audience.

Lighting can also affect how an audience interprets a film. High key lighting scenes have a “lack of contrast” (Tirosh, 2007)[7]. This usually creates a bright tone, that is even across the scene, conveying the idea of happiness. On the other hand, contrasting that, is low key lighting, where there is a huge amount of contrast. Low key lighting creates a darker atmosphere, usually with more drama or tension present. This affects the atmosphere that is present in the shot.

Sound can play a huge part in film production. The ambience of a scene affects how consistent the feeling of that scene is. Foley sound covers all small details, “from footsteps to clothes rustling”. Without foley, a film may sound “empty and hollow” (Mavros, 2000)[8], as if it is an amateur film.

Editing can affect how an atmosphere is built within the film or production. Continuity editing is where a scene is “grounded in time and space”, or in other words, the cuts are “seamless and invisible” (Contis, 2019)[9]. This means that the viewer does not get confused whilst watching. This is key in a single camera drama, where a single scene could be filmed at multiple different angles with different takes.


In conclusion, single camera dramas and productions have their benefits and drawbacks, in terms of their techniques, but different factors can affect how a film is perceived. Single camera dramas can vary in narrative structure, the format, along with the techniques used, to create a certain effect, decided on by the director.


[1] masied (2014). Single Camera Drama – Mason’s Media. [online] Mason’s Media. Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[2] Panigrahi, A. (2017). What is the difference between TV series and TV serials?. [online] Quora. Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[3] (2019). Dramadoc - Oxford Reference. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[4] Willow and Thatch (2019). Period Drama? • Willow and Thatch. [online] Willow and Thatch. Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[5] Wilson, K. (2019). [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[6] (2019). Definition of open-ended | [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[7] Tirosh, U. (2007). Lighting - High Key and Low Key - DIY Photography. [online] DIY Photography. Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[8] Mavros, S. (2000). Foley Effects | Foley Artists | Foley Sound | Sound Ideas. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].

[9] Contis, E. (2019). An Intro to Continuity Editing. [online] Careers In Film | Film Schools & Colleges. Available at: [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].