Production: How To Do an Extreme Wide Shot

An extreme wide shot is used to establish a setting for a scene. It's usually just used once at the beginning of the scene to let the audience know what is going on. It is often found in commercials rather than television and movies, which prefer to use establishing shots to fill the audience in on the location.

Plan Out Your Shots

The first step in planning out an extreme wide shot is by creating a shot list. In commercials an extreme wide shot is used to establish the setting and the characters spatial relationships to each other. In features this shot might be used to show how isolated a character is in the location, such as an extreme wide shot of a cowboy crossing through the dessert. These shots are not as easy to get as one might think and it should only be used intentionally as part of the story telling and emotion you wish to communicate.

Finding the Location

Because you see so much in the extreme wide shot it can be very hard to find the appropriate location. It takes a lot of location scouting to find the right place and that could quickly become very labor intensive as well as expensive depending on who owns the location.

Of course luck sometimes places a role in it as well. Akira Kurosawa is a very famous and great Japanese director who made the movie 'The Seven Samurai', a period piece that took place in feudal Japan. There is an extreme wide shot in the movie of the samurai riding across the country side on horseback. After the movie was released someone asked him how he thought of composing such a great shot on that location. His response was that it was easy. To the left of the frame were power lines and to the right was a road. 

Lighting the Shot

There is another reason that makes extreme wide shots unattractive from a logistics standpoint. Because the area is so large you can not light it. Instead you, or someone else needs to spend the entire day at that location taking pictures every hour to see at what point of day does the place look best to natural light.

Serving Your Vision

Don't let these difficulties discourage you from using extreme long shots. If you believe that shot will work best for what you wish to communicate then go for it. Serve your vision. Come up with the great idea and then figure out how to achieve it. Don't get lazy.

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