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Selecting the Shot > Medium Shots - Pg. 146

PART 3 Visualizing the Story FIGURE 9.4 Combined shots can show detail and the bigger picture simultaneously. This can be achieved by inserting a detail, or clarifying, shot. (Photos courtesy of Panasonic and Canon) FIGURE 9.5 Although the extreme long shot (ELS) does not provide detail, it defi- nitely establishes the scene for the viewer. Most of the time, the ELS shows the viewer the entire field of play, plus the audience. 146 If the action in the scene is incidental to the purpose of a sequence, such as someone speaking about their forthcoming vacation while they happen to be making an omelette, then shots should concentrate on the people involved, watching their interactions. However, if the pur- pose of the sequence is to show us how to cook, then we need detail shots of the action, with little or no interruption from reaction shots. Although this seems obvious, directors do make the wrong choice at times and may confuse or annoy the audience. A shot that is appropriate at one moment could be very unsuitable the next. In fact, there are times when an inappropriate or a badly timed shot can totally destroy an entire sequence. The Extreme Long Shot The extreme long shot (ELS or XLS) enables you to establish the location and to create an overall atmospheric impression. It can be used to cover very widespread action, or to show various activities going on at the same time. It is usually a high shot from a hilltop or an aerial view, such as from a blimp at a sports venue (Figure 9.5). With extreme long shots, the audi- ence takes a rather detached, impersonal attitude, surveying the scene without any sense of involvement. The extreme long shot is generally wider than the long shot. It usually shows much more than just the "field of play." The Long Shot Often used at the start of a production, the long shot (LS) immediately shows where the action is happening. This establishing shot sets the location and broad atmospheric effect. It allows the audience to follow the purpose or pattern of action (Figure 9.6). As the shot is tightened, and shows less of the scene, the audience is influenced less by the setting and the lighting. The people within the scene have a greater audience impact; their gestures and facial expressions become stronger and more important. Medium Shots Medium shots (MSs) are generally mid-shots, although they may be framed a little larger or smaller. Their value lies in the idea that you are close enough to see expressions and emotions but far enough away to understand the context that the subject is in. Gestures can usually be captured in this type of shot. The medium shot is thought to be the one shot that "tells the story" (Figure 9.7).