Wide shot: what is it and when should I use it?

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In film, a wide shot–also known as a long shot–is a shot that shows something in its entirety, including the surroundings or landscape. For example, you might see a character’s whole body and the area that surrounds them. Wide shots can be captured on any lens, but are often shot on wide angle lenses. 

The wide shot is a great way for the director to give the audience a lot of information without a lot of camera movement. It communicates exactly where we are and who or what is present.

When should I use a wide shot?

Wide shots communicate so much information to the audience that it’s impossible to say when, exactly, you should use it. As the director, think about what feeling and information you want to convey to your viewer. Here are some examples of wide shots in photography. Take some time to think about each image and what they convey.

Look at this photo and think about what is being communicated by the photographer’s use of a wide shot. The landscape appears vast and barren, and the figure at the center of it looks totally and utterly alone. A filmmaker could use this shot to indicate that a character is stranded, stuck, or lonely. They could also pair it with other shots to make it appear that there is limitless potential in front of this character.

Here’s another one. The composition of this wide shot communicates a lot. The landscape, though familiar in many ways, appears frigid and otherworldly. This shot would fit in a fantasy or sci fi movie as easily as it would in a perfume commercial or music video. It has a sense of movement, with our character leading her horse across the beach.

Lastly, this wide shot, with the character centered, shows the vastness of a city and makes the character appear small at its center. Take a moment to think about what this shot communicates, and how it could be cut together with other shots to create different stories or feelings.

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Molly Stein-Seroussi

Author

Molly is an author, screenwriter, blogger, and brand manager for New 32 Productions. They are passionate about sharing content that helps filmmakers live a more productive, informed, and well-balanced life. They live in North Carolina with their spouse and way too many dogs.

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