Master Shot

Master Shot

Master Shot 

In this week’s Friday Fundas I will be taking about a cinematography concept termed as Master Shot.

A Master shot is a visual of the entire scene in which the action is taking place. For example in the Harry Potter series the shot involving the entire dining hall is an example of a Master shot. This forms the foundation for the next set of shots that comes. Many a times this also functions as the establishing shot as well.

A master shot is usually a long shot that can cover the entire scene including all the characters, props and background. Another good example of a master shot is the scene from the movie Little Miss Sunshine where the entire family is sitting around a table for dining.

Little Miss Sunshine - Family gathered around a dining table
Little Miss Sunshine – Family gathered around a dining table

This covers the entire scene and forms the foundation shot for the following scenes.

In the early 20th century the master shot was predominantly used in movies. As movies and movie makers evolved from stage play, the shots in the early movies had more master shots which resembled the setup of a stage. In the later part of the 20th century this changed and film makers started to use more radical angles and subjectivity when framing the shots. This started bringing in a different level of connect for the audience to the characters on screen.

Even in today’s films master shot forms a very important part of the filming process.  These shots are frame of reference for the audience to set the context and environment a particular shot is taking place. Carefully placed master shots in the movies enhances the movie experience for the audience.

Next time you watch a movie try differentiating between the master shots and other shots in the movies. Think if the master shots were not present how it would have been.

4 thoughts on “Master Shot”

  1. Well… if you read books particularly detective series, you will find descriptions of the surroundings that adds appeal to the story, brings a sort of mystery and connection, so master shots might add more depth to the movie, generally movies are shallow as compared to books…goodday

    1. No movie can do justice to the book. The closest I found was Peter Jackson’s Hobbit and LOTR Trilogy. Also books let the users create their own visuals based on what they read thereby sparkling their creativity. However movies being a visual medium nails the visual in the minds of the user there by not giving them room imagine.

      1. God!!… LORT was nothing in the movies, the books were totally different and more entertaining, the movie was a perversion, curruption of book. Hobbit movie was fine because of the aesome visuals, the radio reading of the book are way cooler than the movies… I don’t think any of the LORT movie charactors justify their role… in the book they were so interesting, divine and funny, in the movie, plain one type, serious, I did not like any one of them after reading the books.

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