What is a medium wide shot?

Learn how to use a medium wide shot to play with perspective and heighten drama.

In film, it’s all about the angles, from super close-up shots to sweeping wide-angle shots. But there’s a lot of room to play around in the middle, too. Enter: medium wide shots. Learn more about this type of perspective and how you can use it for maximum impact in your next film.

About the medium wide shot.

  1. What is a medium wide shot? A medium wide camera shot shows both the subject and their location, filmed from usually the head to around the knees. It’s wide enough to show the setting of a scene while close enough to show characters’ facial cues. Think of it as a happy medium between a dramatic close-up and a sweeping panorama. Medium wide shots were common in western films to capture cowboys’ faces, horses, and surroundings. Because of that, they’re also known as “cowboy shots.”
  2. When should I use it? Even if you’re not filming a western, you can still use this effect for maximum impact. Generally, this type of shot is great for drawing attention to a scene’s location, focusing on surroundings first and characters second. Show a character’s scale in relation to their surroundings for heightened drama; bring viewers into an action scene without going too close-up; capture a group dynamic by filming a conversation between several characters; draw attention to costumes, body language, and facial expressions. Basically, any time you want to capture people alongside their setting, this shot is for you.
  3. How do I film a medium wide scene? Filmmakers typically shoot medium wide shots with a medium camera lens, which can capture people as well as scenes without too much distortion.

Heighten the drama.

Add even more drama to your shots and effects when you’re editing video. Explore how Adobe Premiere Pro can help you elevate your editing process. And while you’re at it, learn more techniques and ideas to try for your next video project.