The Medium Shot: Dissecting Wall-E

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

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

We’re now at the medium shot. It is a very common, widely used and let’s face it, pretty self-explanatory shot.

If a full shot is a full body shot of a character, then the medium shot is about a three-quarter to one-half shot of a character. Meaning you will have the full head in the shot and it will end anywhere between the ribs and below the butt.

Or thereabouts.

There’s actually not a lot to say about this shot. It is what it is. I consider it a ‘work horse’ shot. It has a million uses and is usually never a bad choice.

So what does this shot say?

“I’m gonna show you something.”

It’s when you need to get a little closer. A little more intimate with the character, but not too intimate.

The background is not important. It should have already been established and we know where we are. It’s all about the character and when they are doing.

It’s also great for when you don’t need to see their feet. Which makes it an awesome ‘cheat shot’ for animation. Why animate a walk cycle if you don’t need to? Just pan the background.

I love a good storyboarding cheat.

The medium shot is your trustworthy friend. It will never betray you and will always be there for you.

Let’s see what these shots are going to tell us. Sometimes, it’s not rocket science.

“I’m lifting my arm and reaching out.”

It doesn’t have to be dramatic or exciting. What is Eve going to show us?

“Watch me turn my head. I’m looking around.”

“See the glow all over me from the rocketship taking off.”

Changing your camera angles just adds to the usefulness of this shot. You still have room to add in some crucial background elements if you need them.

“Yes, I see my ship taking off. It’s all good.”

“See me peeking out. I’m not afraid, but cautious.”

“Watch me light up this light bulb all by myself. Cool, huh?”

Yes, this one was a toss up. But just a little too much of Wall-E was cut off to be a full shot here. So I put it in the medium shot file. I’m still flip-flopping on it.

“I’m holding these wires and going to try give Eve a jump start.”

“I’m staring up at the sky. I’m listening to my music. I feel.”

It’s more involved with your character than the full shot but not as much as the close-up (next week).

The medium shot is a great ‘staple shot’.

It’s the dried pasta of shots. Keep it around, pull it out whenever you need it, add whatever you like to it and it will always feed you.

Pretty simple.

But supremely useful.

“I’m gonna show you something.”

Read the Storyboard Blog by RSS Feed or by email for the next post in this series; ‘close-ups’.

13 thoughts on “The Medium Shot: Dissecting Wall-E

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

  2. steph

    Oh GOD, he’s sooo cute. I think I’m dangerously in love with Wall-E.

    The peeking shot and the last shot show him with different eyes! He did change throughout but just one at a time, I think? Until the end when Eve fixed him, maybe that was a double change. Can’t remember. Hmmm. In any case, what I noticed throughout the film was how very expressive his eyes were, and the focusing and refocusing and reflections and everything…it was all so magic. I still can’t get over how much character they managed to infuse in him with such minimal dialogue.

    Man, what a great film. My new fave.

  3. t.sterling

    I don’t know if it’s wrong, or what it says about me, but I am liking Eve more and more I see these pictures or *think* about the movie since it’s not in my collection (yet). Perhaps it’s my geek side that like stylish new gadgets and such? Or is it that Eve is kinda girl-like for a robot?

    Wall-e is cute in his own special way and all. But I’ll just leave it alone. I probably sound a little too weird now.

    Completely unrelated note (well it is robot related)–I finally own The Iron Giant. It’s nice not having to give it back, thanks for the strong recommendation. Soon Wall-e (and Eve) will be all mine. Did you mention the Burn-e short at all? I found that to be completely hilarious.

  4. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Look at these two comments.

    Woman – Loves Wall-E because he is ‘cute’, charming and emotional.
    Man – Likes Eve because she is ‘stylish’ , sleek and slick.

    So true that women are attracted with their hearts and men are attracted with their eyes (in general).

    I think we shop the same way too.

    Just sayin’. 😀

    @ T – Yes, I thought the Burn-E short was a hoot! And yay for owning the Iron Giant. Hope Santa brings you a little Wall-E love.

    @ Steph – Don’t tell your hubby you might be running away with a robot. 😉

  5. chris kawagiwa

    work horses, friends that will never betray, and pasta are some of my favorite things…

    I really loved what they did with the malfunctioning robots as well. pretty much gave life to pretty simple geometric objects. o that mop guy… what a guy~!

  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Chris – Are you talking about that little cleaner guy ‘Mo’? Love him!

    I think my absolute favorite (funny) moment in the film is when Wall-E pauses and then wipes his dirty ‘foot’ on Mo’s face. It cracks me up every time! The timing is so great. 🙂

  7. Y Ling

    Hi Karen thanks a whole bunch!! You know i’ve learnt so much more from you on your website in a few hours than a whole 4 months term spent at my college!!!

  8. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Y Ling. You are very welcome! Comments like that make my whole day (probably my whole week).

    Gee, I hope you still got something out of that 4 months! 🙂

  9. abnes

    Hello Karen,

    I think Im in love with’re so talented. hope some day ill be like you so that other women inlove with me

  10. Pingback: The Shot Tells the Story: The Wall-E Wrap Up | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

Comments are closed.