What is an establishing shot?
Establishing shots are typically wide or extreme wide shots of buildings or landscapes. These shots might include signage, landmarks, or other obvious signals of place and time. They can help convince your audience that your film’s action is taking place in a cafe in Paris or a cantina on Tatooine instead of a soundstage in L.A.
Give your audience context.
Establishing shots don’t have to be the most artful shots in your film. “The easiest thing to do in Hollywood movies is a helicopter shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. ‘Oh, we’re in San Francisco, I get it,’” says graphic designer and independent film producer Nick Escobar. “It establishes where you are, lets you know what’s going on, and can clue you in to the time period, based on the way the city is shot and color graded.”