Production: How To Do an Wide Shot

A wide shot is usually the first shot that is covered in the shooting schedule for a scene. The reason a wide shot is done first is because it involves the most complicated lighting of all the shots due to the large area seen. As you move into medium shots and close ups the amount of lighting required shrinks down and the set is broken down in size. This way when the last shot is up everything that isn't working can be packed away and the crew can move on to the next location in a quick fashion.


The first step in shooting any scene is to rehearse and block it out with the actors. After all, how can you properly light it without knowing what actions are going to happen and who will be where? If you're shooting a fairly large budget project then after the blocking is complete we would have stand ins stand on the actor's marks so that the lighting crew can efficiently light them. These stand ins are hired because they look like the actors and are the same height. If it's a low budget project then the stand ins may be PAs or even the actors themselves.

Pick a Lens and Camera Position

Now that the blocking has been decided the next step before lighting is to pick a lens and camera position. The camera position will determine the angle that we see things and the lens will determine the size of the frame along with the depth of field. Now that those decisions have been made it is time to start decorating the set.

Art Department

Art department plays a huge role in the look of the frame. They're responsible for how the set is decorated. If you were shooting a scene in an apartment then a good art department would create a visually interesting place that adds another layer to the character in the story. Devote a lot of time and energy to art department because nothing looks worse than a bare and empty set.

Lighting the Wide Shot

Now that the art department has done their job it's time to light the set. Lighting the wide shot is probably the hardest of all shot sizes to light. It requires you to design a plan that evenly lights your set without making it seem artificial. You can have a key light outside of the frame along with a fill light, but lighting the background can be tricky because you can not see any of the lights.

If you're shooting in an area that has high ceilings you can use that to your advantage by placing lights just out of frame above the practical lights so that the lighting appears motivated. 

Think About Sound

Sound department is often neglected when we plan out our shot. Try to keep them in mind, or at the very least keep a large flag nearby to hide the boom shadow.


We're not quite ready to shoot just yet. Do a quick rehearsal before you shoot to make sure that everything plays out all right. Make whatever adjustments you need to have the rehearsal. Once everything is perfect (or as perfect as it can be) it's time to start rolling the camera.

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