Establishing shot

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An aerial shot of The Pentagon can be used to establish a meeting of US military strategists. The Pentagon US Department of Defense building.jpg
An aerial shot of The Pentagon can be used to establish a meeting of US military strategists.

An establishing shot in filmmaking and television production sets up, or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects. [1] It is generally a long or extreme-long shot at the beginning of a scene indicating where, and sometimes when, the remainder of the scene takes place. [2] [3] [4] [5]

Filmmaking is the process of making a film, generally in the sense of films intended for extensive theatrical exhibition. Filmmaking involves a number of discrete stages including an initial story, idea, or commission, through screenwriting, casting, shooting, sound recording and pre-production, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and exhibition. Filmmaking takes place in many places around the world in a range of economic, social, and political contexts, and using a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques. Typically, it involves many people, and can take from a few months to several years to complete.

Long shot

In photography, filmmaking and video production, a long shot typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings. These are typically shot now using wide-angle lenses. However, due to sheer distance, establishing shots and extremely wide shots can use almost any camera type.

Establishing shots were more common during the classical era of filmmaking than they are now. Today's filmmakers tend to skip the establishing shot in order to move the scene along more quickly, or merely mention the setting in on-screen text (as is done in the Law & Order franchise). In addition, the expositional nature of the shot (as described above) may be unsuitable to scenes in mysteries, where details are intentionally obscured or left out.

Classical Hollywood cinema, classical Hollywood narrative, the Golden Age of Hollywood, Old Hollywood, and classical continuity are terms used in film criticism which designate both a narrative and visual style of film-making which developed in and characterized American cinema between the 1910s and the 1960s, and eventually became the most powerful and pervasive style of film-making worldwide.

<i>Law & Order</i> (franchise) legal/criminal procedural television franchise

Law & Order is a franchise composed of a number of related American television series created by Dick Wolf. They were originally broadcast on NBC, and all of them deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. Together, the original series, its various spin-offs, the TV film, and crossover episodes from other shows constitute over 1,000 hours of programming.

Use of establishing shots

Location
Establishing shots may use famous landmarks to indicate the city where the action is taking place or has moved to, such as the following:
Brandenburg Gate Triumphal arch in Berlin, Germany

The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after the (temporarily) successful restoration of order during the early Batavian Revolution. One of the best-known landmarks of Germany, it was built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel, which used to be capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

Fernsehturm Berlin Television tower in Berlin

The Fernsehturm is a television tower in central Berlin, Germany.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg's capital. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Time of day
Sometimes the viewer is guided in their understanding of the action. For example, an exterior shot of a building at night followed by an interior shot of people talking implies that the conversation is taking place at night inside that building - the conversation may in fact have been filmed on a studio set far from the apparent location, because of budget, permits, time limitations or convenience. In the series JAG , 24-hour Coordinated Universal Time (known in military nomenclature as "Zulu time") was used for these scenes to reinforce the military setting of the series.
Relationship
An establishing shot might be a long shot of a room that shows all the characters from a particular scene. For example, a scene about a murder in a college lecture hall might begin with a shot that shows the entire room, including the lecturing professor and the students taking notes. A close-up shot can also be used at the beginning of a scene to establish the setting (such as, for the lecture hall scene, a shot of a pencil writing notes).
Concept
An establishing shot may also establish a concept, rather than a location. For example, opening with a martial arts drill visually establishes the theme of martial arts. A shot of rain falling could be an establishing shot, followed by more and more detailed look at the rain, culminating with individual raindrops falling.

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