Medium close-up (MCU)

A medium close-up (or MCU) is one that frames the subject from just above their head to about the middle of their body. The idea for a medium close-up is that you can easily record the player's emotions and facial expressions while still retaining some of the background.

ln other words, close-up of one or two (sometimes three) characters, generally framing the shoulders or chest and the head. The term can also be used when the camera frames the character(s) from the waist up (or down), provided the character is right to the forefront and fills the frame, (otherwise this type of of shot is a medium shot).

A medium close-up is usually used when a scene needs to be covered with standard coverage that doesn't shock the audience. Often these shots are used when a scene calls for a "neutral" narrative approach.

An MCU of two or three characters can indicate;

  • Coming together
  • An intimacy
  • A certain solidarity.

Conversely, if there is a series of two and one shots, these MCUs would suggest a complicity between two people against a third who is visually separate in another shot.

Some of the best directors use MCUs for coverage in their scenes. This is because when you frame most of your scenes in moderate close-ups, the effectiveness of the close-up is untouched.

Then you will get a stronger reaction from the audience when you decide to go inside for the close-up. This lets you highlight certain parts of your scene with a simple change in shot size.

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