Production: How To Do a Medium Shot

A medium shot falls between a wide shot and a close up. In shooting a scene, you would tackle the medium shots after the wide master shot. The primary purpose of a medium shot is to add a variety of coverage into a scene. While they are not as intensive to set up as a wide shot and they don't place as much crucial importance on the performance as a close up does, they should not be treated lightly.

Step 1: Selecting a Lens

If you have already shot a wide shot for this scene, then the performances, blocking, art department and general lighting look for the scene has already been established. So, the first creative step that needs to be taken now for the medium shot is the selection of the camera lens as well as the position of the camera.

We would then have the actors stand in and block out the scene to see how this angle and lens work. Sometimes we need to revise our plan and make some changes to the camera and position. But, when we're finally happy with what we're going to shoot, we make our adjustments to the set to make our shoot look great.

Step 2: Art Department and Blocking

Because our angle and lens have changed, we may need to make a few adjustments to the actors, props and set decorations to make sure that we have great composition within our frame. Although this is technically cheating, it is perfectly acceptable.

A person may need to walk a few extra steps to their left and a painting may need to be moved. Furniture may even need to be raised up with apple boxes. Do whatever you can to make your frame look great.

Step 3: Adjust the Lighting

Now that the actors, camera and art department have moved, it's time to relight the set. Because all sets are different, the amount of labor involved for this will vary. It can be something very simple, such as moving one or two lights, or you may need to take down everything and start from scratch. But, there is one thing that is certain; you need to mimic the same rules you established in the master shot's lighting. The position of the key light and lighting motivations need to stay the same, otherwise your shots will not match when you perform the final edit.

Step 4: Shoot the Medium

After your camera position is selected, a new lens is added, the blocking is changed, the art department is adjusted for the frame, and the set is relit, you will now be able to shoot the medium shot. After that, you can move on to the close ups.

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