Medium shot

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An example of a medium group shot featuring Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou from the 1932 drama film A Farewell to Arms

In film, a medium shot, mid shot (MS),[1] or waist shot[2] is a camera angle shot from a medium distance.[3]


Medium shots are favored in sequences where dialogues or a small group of people are acting, as they give the viewer a partial view of the background[3] and also show the subjects' facial expressions in the context of their body language.[4] Medium shots are also used when the subject in the shot is delivering information, such as news presenters.[1] It is also used in interviews.[2] It is the most common shot in movies,[5][6] and it usually follows the first establishing shots of a new scene or location.[6] The first film director to use medium shots as well as close-ups effectively to develop the story was D. W. Griffith.[6] John Ford also used medium shots liberally in his films.[5]

A normal lens that sees what the human eye see,[7] is usually used for medium shots.[6]


A medium two-shot of Robin Roberts interviewing Barack Obama

The dividing line between what constitutes a long shot and medium shot is not definite, nor is the line between medium shot and close-up.[6] In some standard texts and professional references, a full-length view of a human subject is called a medium shot;[5] in this terminology, a shot of the person from the knees up or the waist up is a close-up shot. In other texts, these partial views are called medium shots.[8] In principal, the medium shot is what can be seen with the human eye in a single quick glance and convey all the action taking place in that field of view.[5][1]


Medium shots are divided into singles (a waist-high shot of one actor), group shots, over-the shoulders or two-shots (featuring two people).[5] A medium wide shot, or American shot, shows a bit more of the background but is till close enough for facial expressions to be seen.[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Mid Shot (MS)". Wavelength Media. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Basics of video shooting". Arizona State University. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "medium shot". Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  4. Ablan, Dan. "Medium Shots". Peachpit. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Alexander, Victor. "Long shot, meduim shot, close-up". Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Moura, Gabe (3 June 2014). "SHOT SIZES: Telling What They See". Gabriel Moura. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  7. Moura, Gabe (3 June 2014). "Types of Lenses". Gabriel Moura. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  8. "Film Glossary". Rice University. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  9. "Elements of Cinematography: Camera". University of Texas at Dallas. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 

Further reading