How Film Shot Length Decreased In Last Century

Average Shot Length Between 1900 -2008


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As we discussed how films have evolved in the last century statistically in my last post, I dug more into it and found out some interesting facts about the decrease in the average shot length in the last 100 years. As technology improved, so does the filmmaking and there have been numerous changes in the art and craft. One most important improvement i feel is decreased average shot length.

In the early days of films, theater and plays were more dominant. Later many theater  people moved on to the moving pictures along with their theater technics. Hence earlies movies had long shot length, sometimes a single shot scenes where were pretty long just like they used to do on theater stage.. One more thing which led to long shot length was lack of proper editing technology. As technology started evolving average shot length started decreasing. Interestingly average shot length of movies in 1900 was above 40 seconds per shot, dropped to 10 seconds per shot in 1920.

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FilmHistory.viz is an exploration of patterns in the history of cinema using data on 1100+ feature films. The data was collected by film scholars from around the world and is available at For each film Cinemetrics database provides statistics such as average shot length, number of shots, etc.

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Pic Credit : FilmHistory.viz

Here is the Average Shot Length (ASL) Of Five Famous Film Directors.

  • Michael Bay              ASL 3.00 Seconds
  • Christopher Nolan  ASL 3.10 Seconds
  • Steven Spielberg     ASL 6.50 Seconds
  • Alfred Hitchcock    ASL 9.10 Seconds
  • John Ford                ASL 9.70 Seconds

 Here is the Average Shot Length (ASL) Of Alfred Hitchcock.

  • Rebecca (1940)                  ASL 6.10 Seconds
  • Spellbound (1945)            ASL 8.50 Seconds
  • Rear Window (1954)        ASL 8.40 Seconds
  • To Catch a Thief (1955)   ASL 6.40 Seconds
  • Vertigo (1958)                   ASL 7.10 Seconds
  • Psycho (1960)                   ASL 6.20 Seconds

Here is the Average Shot Length (ASL) Of Steven Spielberg.

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)  ASL 7.20 Seconds
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)                        ASL 4.40 Seconds
  • Jurassic Park (1993)                                         ASL 6.20 Seconds
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)                            ASL 8.40 Seconds
  • Minority Report (2001)                                   ASL 6.00 Seconds
  • Munich (2005)                                                  ASL 7.50 Seconds

Data used to generate this chart: PDF and TEXT. I hope you will like this post. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

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