pictures or television, let's briefly review the important reasons for including all
three of the basic shots.
b. The long shot. This normally is the first shot of the sequence, and it
establishes the locality of the area the audience is viewing; hence this shot is
sometimes called an establishing shot. It also gives the audience some background
knowledge to prepare them for the scenes that follow. Without the long shot your
audience may wonder where they are, and where the action is taking place. The locale
must be set for every sequence, and the long shot is the technique used to accomplish
c. The medium shot. While the long shot sets the scene, the medium shot introduces
addition, the medium shot allows for smooth transition from the long shot to the closeup.
Remember in our earlier orderly room scene, the long shot showed the first sergeant and
the company clerk. The MS then led the viewer's attention away from the room as a whole
to a group of three people. The MS also provided smooth transition to a closeup of the
main actors. A smooth transition from LS to CU is most necessary. Can you imagine the
confused faces of the audience if you went from a LS of the whole room to a CU of the
first sergeant's face?
d. The closeup.
(1) The closeup takes the viewer right to the action. Everything is eliminated
from the scene except the particular thing you are bringing to the viewer's attention.
The CU can create a feeling of intimacy and warmth. The next time you are talking to
someone, notice how you are constantly looking at his face and picking out various
details. Certainly you don't back off about 20 feet while talking with him. The same
thing applies when shooting your film.
(2) The closeup is the most important shot of a sequence. It shows detail of the
action thereby holding the audience's interest. You might consider it the climax of the
sequence for just as a story has its introduction, buildup, and climax, each sequence
has its LS, MS, and CU, with the CU being the most dramatic of them all.
(3) But there are other applications of the closeup. In training films, the
closeup shows the viewer what he is supposed to learn. Through the closeup, the actual
performance of a task can be demonstrated in such a way that the viewer has little
difficulty understanding it, and complex operations can be made comparatively simple.
Situations of this sort usually call for a series of closeups, perhaps three or four.
After that, it is necessary to reestablish the scene to remind the viewer of the action
as a whole.
There is, in the art of cinematography, what is known as the Absolute Rule. This
rule states, "Whenever the camera is stopped, change the angle and/or image size before
you resume filming." Sometimes it is preferable to change both. This rule must be
followed at all times when shooting action of any type. About the only time it is not
used is when you are filming animation or inanimate objects.