Pyramid Pairings #4: It All Begins with a Story / Long, Medium, and Close Shots


Pyramid Pairings are specific pairs of Imagineering Pyramid principles and how they work together. The next Pyramid Pairing we’re going to look at is It All Begins with a Story and Long, Medium, and Close Shots.

Let’s start with a refresher on these principles, from The Imagineering Pyramid.

It All Begins with a Story is described on page 25:

…“it all begins with a story” means using your subject matter to inform all decisions about your project.

Long, Medium, and Close Shots is described on page 49:

To be more specific, it’s about organizing your message to lead your audience from general to the specific, and involves organizing your details in such a way as to introduce and then support your subject matter.

The connection between these two principles is simple enough: long / establishing shots introduce your audience to your subject matter and medium and close shots help expand on and support your story.

One of my favorite examples of this from the Disney parks is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, which I referenced in The Imagineering Pyramid (page 49):

As you enter Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror stands at the far end, beckoning you. From a distance, the building stands out as an old, dilapidated tower, a shadow of its former glory. Moving closer, the extent of the damage becomes more clear, as holes in the walls and remnants of missing portions of the building come into view. Finally, as you walk up along the walkways and into the hotel lobby, the full story of this place comes into focus, with its deserted hallways, dusty and cobwebbed furniture. This is not just any hotel. It’s a place that has known tragedy and mystery, and one that invites you to explore its secrets.

As we approach The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, we are introduced to the story and learn more about it as we get closer. The long shot says “something bad happened here,” the medium shot tells us more of the story as we see more of the damage done to the hotel, and the close shots show us that the place has been abandoned for years, and even show us the date on which the tragedy occurred.

This pairing also works well “beyond the berm” too. For example, when designing a training course or classroom lesson, you might create an introductory lesson that introduces the subject matter (long shot), followed by individual lessons on specific topics. Each of these individual lessons might start with a lesson overview (medium shot) before moving into specifics and details of the topic (close shots).

Imagineering Pyramid Checklist Questions

Here are some additional Imagineering Pyramid Checklists questions based on this pairing:

  • How can leading your audience from the general to the specific help you communicate your subject matter?
  • What does your establishing shot tell your audience about your subject matter?
  • How do your medium and close shots help tell your story?

Thoughts? Tell me what you think in the comments!


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