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.
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.
Kalyana Samayal Saadham – is a Tamil romantic comedy film released in 2013. The film revolves around the various situations that occur in planning and organizing an Indian wedding. The story is narrated through the various events that occur during the arranged wedding of Raghu and Meera. When the wedding is finalized everything seems to be breezy until they face a problem that could potentially call off the wedding just couple of months ahead of the actual wedding. Added to this everyone in the family thinks they own the wedding and orchestrate the events much to the dislike of the to-be wedded couples. Were they able to resolve the issue, did they find a soul mate in each other remains the rest of the plot.
Director RS Prasanna has not only captured the essence of an arranged Indian wedding but also has subtly covered many problems that occur in organizing one. The problem that the couples face would be new for the audience to see it on screen. This kind of keeps the story engaging and not let it fall apart as a usual wedding drama which we have seen in many movies. Actor Prasanna has essayed his part very well and Lekha Washington just fills in sufficiently. She has a limitation on the number of expressions she could bring out on screen.
What you would like: Very fresh screen play, comic portion of the movie, typical wedding time drama elements that most of us would have experienced
What you would not like: Certain shots look disconnected without an establishing shot. Lack of strong drama element due to too many positive characters might bore you in parts
Overall the movie as a complete package is definitely watchable despite its few short comings.
This is a term used in Film Editing. An establishing shot is a shot that sets the context in the movie. This is used very effectively during the editing process. For example if the story or plot involves the characters in Malaysia then a view of the Petronas tower would be a establishing shot. Post this the scene of two people discussing in a coffee shop would set the context for the audience that the scene is happening in Malaysia. In reality the shot might have been actually taken elsewhere but through the establishing shot the appropriate illusion is created.
In the movie Chandramukhi some of the shots in were caned in Mysore Palace but through establishing shot of the house the audience believed the set up was actually inside the house. In many movies you might have seen the shot of a flight landing or flight take off as an establishing shot to show the scene has transferred between locations. This technique was particularly used in old movies extensively. However in the new movies this is used to a lesser extent. A simple technique if not used correctly audience loose the context of the screenplay.