forgetting the first important point in shooting successful motion pictures or
television, let's briefly review the important reasons for including all three of
the basic shots.
a. The long shot.
This normally is the first shot of the sequence, and
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.
locale must be set for every sequence, and the long shot is the technique used to
accomplish this purpose.
b. The medium shot.
While the long shot sets the scene, the medium shot
introduces the action and the audience becomes aware of who, or what, the center of
In 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 a 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
c. The close-up.
(1) The close-up takes the viewer right to the action.
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 their
face and picking out various details. Certainly you don't back off about 20 feet
while talking with them. The same principle applies when shooting your film.
(2) The close-up is the most important shot of a sequence. It shows detail
of the action, thereby holding the interest of the audience. You might consider it
the climax of the sequence, for just as a story has its introduction, build-up, 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 close-up.
For instance, in
training films, the close-up shows the viewer what he is supposed to learn.
Through the close-up, 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 close-ups, perhaps three or four. After that, it is necessary to
re-establish the scene to remind the viewer of the action as a whole.