The Full Shot: Dissecting Wall-E

      24 Comments on The Full Shot: Dissecting Wall-E
All images © 2008 Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures.

We’re at the third post of the series ‘The Shot Tells the Story’ using the movie Wall-E as my lesson plan. You can find the whole list of shots in the introduction post.

We’re now at the full shot. You may not see that term in any film making books. It is very often referred to as a long shot. But I like to separate the shots more.

So what’s the difference between the full shot and the extreme wide shot and long shot?

It’s even closer.

(Yup, that is never gonna get old 🙂 .)

How close? I define it as a full body shot of a character. There will be some ‘air’ (or space) above and below them inside the frame. No part of them is cut off (unless they are behind an object).

In the post about extreme wide shots, I said those shots answer the question “where are we?”. The long shot made the statement, “Oh, there they are.” What does the full shot say?

“Look at me.”

The extreme wide shot was all about the environment. It told us the big picture of where this story is taking place. The long shot had the perfect balance between ‘where’ and ‘who’. It gave us a closer look at who the story is about and where they are in their environment.

In the full shot, the environment (or the ‘where’) falls much more by the wayside. This shot is all about the ‘who’. This shots wants us to look at our characters. It’s the ‘big picture’ of just that character (or characters).

We should already know where they are by the time we get to a full shot. So this shot isn’t about Wall-E inside his house. It’s says:

“Watch me watch TV.”

“Look at me recharging myself with the sun.”

“Look, I’m spying on Eve.”

I’ve split this up into three panels because it involves a camera move. It’s Wall-E’s P.O.V. (point of view) of Eve while he is spying on her. It gives a great reveal of Eve.

“Look, there’s a floating pod of some kind.”

“Oh wait, look! It’s another robot.”

You can see how this shot gives the character some breathing space. They have room to move or stretch or dance while it still keeps them as the main focus.

Here’s an example of being hidden by an object, but I still consider it a full shot. If you removed the object, you would still see all of Wall-E.

“Yup, I’m still spying on her. I can’t help myself.”

And shots can be combined by putting someone in the foreground and someone in the background. This is a full shot of Wall-E but quite a long shot of Eve. We are aware of Eve, but our focus is really on Wall-E.

“Oh S***! Did you see that? Did you see how I almost got blasted to bits??”

“Look at me search and search with my cool scanner ray.”

And the full shot has room for two characters sometimes. You still see the full bodies of both of them.

“You see me pointing my blaster at this little guy? Do ya?”

OK, a little bit of Wall-E is cut off here. But it’s certainly not close enough to be considered a medium shot (see next week!). And this one also uses a closer shot of Eve in the foreground. But again, it’s all about Wall-E.

“Look what I found! Isn’t it pretty?”

“Look at Eve’s blue beam taking the plant away from Wall-E.”

Like I said before, it’s all relative. In Wall-E’s world this would be an extreme close-up. In the cockroache’s world, it’s a full shot.

“Look at me. I’m cute too!”

“Aw, shucks. Look at Wall-E holding ‘sleeping Eve’s’ hand. He seems so happy.”

You see how I never mention anything about where they are? Because for this shot is doesn’t matter. It’s all about the characters. We should already know where they are, so don’t forget to use those wider shots to show us that.

But to draw our attention to them, get a little closer. Use those full shots to give us the ‘big picture’ of your characters.

And give them the attention they deserve to tell us their story.

“Look at me.”

Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email for the next post in this series; ‘medium shots’.

24 thoughts on “The Full Shot: Dissecting Wall-E

  1. Pingback: The Shot Tells the Story: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  2. t. sterling

    So just to recap… things/shots to keep in mind (from storytelling point of view) is to answer or state where we are, there they are and look at them. Of course you phrased it much better, and I even imagine a wee child saying the words in red. I am curious as to what will be said or asked in the medium shot.

    You got me again, and again with the cockroach, I wouldn’t have thought of that as a full shot. Perhaps if it were A Bug’s Life (didn’t care for that one as much) I would’ve been a bit more aware.

    I hope someone gets this movie for me for Christmas or my birthday.

  3. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey T.
    Just keep in mind that I’m not saying these shots have to be presented in this order. Far from it. That would turn way too ‘formula’. And there is no formula.

    But in general, yes. The audience will feel much better when they know ‘where they are’ before getting more detailed information.

    Plus, this is for storyboard artists and film makers. For writers I would say just tell us a good story. Don’t try to ‘direct it’ in the writing. But it’s good stuff to keep in mind while writing.

    …if that makes sense.

    Be sure to drop plenty of Christmas-wish-hints to the family! 🙂

  4. t.sterling

    I’m working towards a writer/director career, so in some of the things I’m writing I make notes of what or how I’d actually like it to be seen on screen.

    But I understand what you mean about not directing in the writing. I’m somewhat strangely aware of when I’m doing it so I take those parts out.

  5. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @T – Good for you for being aware of those things while writing. A lot of people aren’t. And from me to you, please never use “smash cut” in your scripts.
    Biggest (script) pet peeve EVER! 🙂

    @ Friar – Well, she was just doing her job. And she is a robot after all. But I know what you mean.

    It made the pay-off bigger that she developed the same feelings by the end. If she started off as sweet as Wall-E, it wouldn’t have been the same. 🙂

  6. Friar


    Yeah, I know they’re robots. But there’s a moral here.

    The female is allowed to be as aloof and condescending as she likes, and can just sit back and thwart the advances our her suitor whenever she chooses.

    The male must be the one who makes all the effort, trying again and again to impress the female and prove his love. Then, and only then, will she accept him (…maybe!)

    Okay..I know I’m reading too much into this. But sheesh..if this is a metaphor for real life, no WONDER I’m still single! 😉

    I like Wall-E. He’s actually a nice guy (figuratively speaking). He’s the Tom Hanks of the Animated-Robot World. 🙂

  7. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Friar – Reading too much into it? Probably. But the can of worms has been opened.

    You, my dear friend, have obviously NEVER dated any MEN.

    I will leave it at that. (For now) 😉

    (But yes Wall-E *is* the Tom Hanks of the robot world! Maybe the animated world.) 🙂

  8. retrovirusaurus

    Hi Ms.Lloyd,

    I discovered your blog/site just a month ago. Very insightful. So far it’s been really helpful to me honing my storyboarding skills. Also love the fact that your site/blog actually deals with the ins & outs, the pros and cons of the craft and the business of storyboarding.

    Now, for my questions. If you have the time and energy to answer them, it would be most welcome.

    I was actually in the process of building my portfolio for a story artist position in animation to submit to companies like : Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Sony etc… yes, the BIG ONES.

    I was a little bit taken aback when I read your entry : Getting the J-O-B Part 2: Building a Storyboard Portfolio

    The part that kinda boggled and confused me was when you said :”Don’t use live action storyboards if you want to work in animation” and vice versa.

    Now, with all the things that I have read online, including the career FAQ’s in the website of the aforementioned companies above, blogs/websites of employees of said companies or animation trade websites, interviews that I have seen online or on TV regarding the qualifications of an artist for a story artist position is that you just have to be an excellent artist with excellent storytelling abilities. Not to mention great communication skills and be a good team player (translation: DON’T BE AN ASS!)
    From those parameters and criteria, I have concluded that recruiting managers or head of story or storyboard supervisors or whoever who would be interviewing me for the story artist position in those animation companies wouldn’t really care if I show them a portfolio full of live action storyboard sequences.

    I’m quite sure they would see past the “type” of storyboard infront of them and see the great potential of the applicant. As long as the storytelling is excellent, tight, fluid, clear, precise, great staging etc… Am I right?

    I mean, people from those animation companies always say in their interviews: “It’s all about the story. Period.”

    So I guess , through the years , these people are open minded enough and experienced enough to see and spot the storytelling abilities of a really talented/versatile artist applying for the story artist position even if the portfolio doesn’t include a single bit of an animation sequence storyboard.

    So in closing, is the statement: “ Don’t use live action storyboards if you want to work in animation” still holds true? Should it still be followed to a T?

    Thanks in advance Karen.

    Take care.

  9. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ retrovirusaurus – Well, this might have been better as an email. But here goes.

    Yes, I stand by it.

    Have you ever applied to any animation studios before? Or are you just going by what you’ve read online? And have those studios said in their application requirements that live-action boards are totally welcome? If so, by all means go ahead and use them.

    If you are just *assuming* they will be OK, think again.

    Recruiting folks can have a bit of tunnel vision (think I already said that in my post). If all they see are live-action boards you will be labeled a ‘live-action guy’. Adrien (who wrote some posts in that series) has *worked* in animation but if he shows his live-action boards to studios, he’s labeled as a ‘live-action guy’ and doesn’t get the gig.

    I applied to a studio doing a full length 3D movie. I’ve done full length 3D movies for DVD, but I was still seen as a ‘TV-Animation gal’ in their eyes. It made me nuts because it *really* made no difference. It was still a feature length 3D film. The storytelling was *exactly* the same.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, they should be able to see past it.

    But oftentimes, they don’t. Why take that chance?

    And if you’ve never storyboarded for animation, maybe you shouldn’t be applying to the big studios until you have. It’s a different animal than live-action. Yes, it’s all about the story. But telling an animated story and telling a live-action one can be different.

    If you don’t have the acting down and you don’t understand animation production, you’re at a disadvantage. Period.

    Just my (and Adrien’s) opinion of course. Use your own judgment. I’m never trying to tell anyone what to do here. Just giving my (sometimes strong) opinions.

    Like I said…why take the chance? But I wish you luck with your applications! 🙂

  10. Friar


    Yes…I admit…I have NEVER dated any MEN.

    (Don’t plan to, either, any time soon).

    NOT that there’s anything wrong with that… 😉

  11. steph

    I.LOVED. Wall-E.


    I could watch it over and over and over. I don’t think I’ve made so many exclamations ever while watching a movie. I gasped and awwed and cooed and laughed and cried and just…fully participated. I was in love with Wall-E mere seconds after meeting him. I’m in awe of the way they make non-humans so…human – only better. I was in awe of this whole movie.

    And I’m starting to appreciate these types of films even more with your helpful posts!

    Do Bolt! I loved that one too!! Oh my God, my guts hurt from laughing during that one. I laughed so hard I cried, and then I really cried – that one wrenched you from one emotion to the next, just as a great story should.

  12. t.sterling

    @Karen, I wasn’t really sure what a smash cut was, I actually thought it was the same as jump cut, but I looked it up and although I’ve never written one in any of my scripts, it seems like something I’d probably possibly use once in a while. I figured that’d be something to play with in editing, which I hope to have a hand in as well.

    Either way, thank you for some more knowledge and a new term. 🙂

  13. Friar

    I’m with Steph. After reading your post, I want to watch Wall-E again, to find out what I missed.

    Wish we could still see it in theaters…..somehow, it won’t be the same on a small TV screen!

  14. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Friar – Nope, nothing wrong with it at all ( I used to do it all the time!) All I’m saying is the ‘Wall-E guys’ are a little few and far between. I’m lucky enough to have found one though. 🙂

    And yes, watch it again! Even on TV it’s still good.

    @ Steph – I love that you loved Wall-E so much. I rather enjoyed ‘Bolt’ too. A tad more formulaic, but it worked and certain parts really touched me. But I’m a softy for animal stories. 🙂

    I can only do a real analysis after the DVD comes out. Or it’ll just be me babbling away without images. Mind you, I did that for ‘Igor’.

    But I wasn’t that fond of Igor… 😉

    @ T – Glad to have given you the lesson. But keep in mind I’m telling you NOT to use it. I never understood it when I read scripts and it always seemed kind of ‘hacky’ to me.

    Then in a book by Derek Rydall he wrote about signs of an amateur screenwriter. In one paragraph he states:

    “Too many scene transitions, such as CUT TO, FADE TO, DISSOLVE TO, or my favorite, SMASH CUT. What the heck is a SMASH CUT really? It’s a cut, plain and simple. Maybe there’s a sound effect or another visual attached to it, but it’s still just a “snip-snip” on the negative. What’s more, you really don’t need to CUT TO between any slugline (scene heading), because it’s implied.”

    When I read that I said “Hallelujah!” because someone agreed with me. It’s a cut. There IS NO faster cut than a regular cut. One frame to the next. That’s it.

    Rant complete. 🙂

  15. Lillian

    Excellent post once again! I love how you explain things so simply and clearly to get the point across. It would be awesome if your articles came in printable versions.
    Also, thank you for the advice about pitching storyboards for my school assignment. I talked clearly and acted it out, not being afraid to be funny. It went well! Thank you!

  16. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Lillian!

    Thanks so much. And printable versions may be on the horizon (sometime!)

    That’s great your pitch went well. Good for you! I hope you had fun doing it. If you approach it as a kind of ‘performance’, it doesn’t have to be too scary. 🙂

  17. Pingback: The Medium Shot: Dissecting Wall-E | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  18. Pingback: Facing Off With ‘Bolt’ | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  19. caz

    hi this is really helpful as am using the film at school. Was just wondering where you get all the pictures from as we are only using the opening scene.

    Thanks again! x

  20. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi caz,

    I actually screen-captured all the shots myself from the DVD on my computer. A little time-consuming but worth it.

    It was the only way to get everything I needed. 🙂


  21. Pingback: Storyboard: “C?nh tr?n v?n: Phân tích Wall-E” « Truong's blog

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