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How to Use the Close Up Shot Versus the Wide Shot

The shot composition for a director is used in order to frame the audiences attention in a certain perspective of plot.

The Close Up

If the Director zooms the camera composition to one character’s face, it’s because…“The close up shot is to direct the audience to focus attention towards a specific subject, in an intense/intimate matter”

A close up shot allows the audience a direct perspective into the characters mind. When the camera flashes to a close up of a character, we feel the exact emotion given to the audience from the actor.

Fast Forward to 1 minute 45 seconds from the clip of Harry Potter 5: we see a close up of Harry reacting to Sirius dying. The close up shot shows the pain and passion Harry feels in this scene.

In these examples we can feel the intensity and passion given to us from the main subjects.

The Wide Shot

Most audiences recognize the close up shot prior to the wide shot, but never forget the significance of the wide shot.

Where the close up allows the audience to dive into the characters mind, a very intimate and narrow perspective of the story.

The wide shot gives the audience its dream world, the universe in which the audience will consume plot and reason. The close up is oblivious without the wide shot. The only way to execute the close up on a character or subject, is to give them a wide shot world where the character makes sense in the first place.

You don’t believe me?

Is there a batman without a Gotham City?

Is there a Gotham City without DC Comics?

The wide shot is studied less than the close up, with out a doubt. However, think of the wide shot as veins and arteries of the story, literally. The characters, with all their driving plots, keep the audience in the story alive. In order to get to higher places, a character must have movement, setting, worlds to find obstacles, obstacles that lead to triumph.

A scene from the film Pursuit of Happiness where he is given a job offer at the resolution of the film. The close up shot reveals Will Smith’s character’s joy and elation, he becomes overcome with relief.

Fast forward to 1 minute 30 second marker of the clip.

A wide shot of our successful protagonist, smiling, proud and accomplished. The camera stays wide, as he relishes the victory. The wide shot, shows how the characters triumph means everything to the character. Amongst all the chaos of an urban setting.

If you ever wondered how the audience connects to the protagonist. Well the movie makes you believe the character is special. The wide shot reminds the individual audience member they are like the main character lost, but special in the wide chaos, a speck in the movie universe. Only the wide shot can give the audience that sensation.

Here is another 3 min video showing amazing wide show examples from cinema history.

Written by: Lucas Velazquez


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