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Aspect Montage

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As demonstrated by Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics.

The Aspect Montage is a editing technique, though it appears in print media as well in comics. Rather than show one wide establishing shot, a montage of environmental scenes are used to establish mood and location. The details chosen allow a director to bring some aspect of the setting into sharp focus, allowing a complex scene a bit more direction.

For example, to establish that a scene is set in a kitchen, rather than just show a wide Establishing Shot of the kitchen, a editor will show a close up of a pot on the stove, a table, a sink full of dishes, other details that make us think "Kitchen". This device adds a distinct flavor to the location, and makes it feel less generic.

By revealing smaller sections of an image the same image may be displayed longer. This spares the animation budget for higher-intensity scenes. Can be a component of the Decompressed Comic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • His and Her Circumstances made good use of this trope.
  • The Once an Episode opening scene of Serial Experiments Lain establishes its city location by a montage of power lines, crowds crossing roads, and the familiar Japanese "Don't Walk" sign. This gives a sense of tension and mundanity at the same time. Part of that tension might be because the viewers remember what happened during the opening of the first episode, intermixed with these same establishing shots.
  • This was how you knew the cast had arrived in a new Adventure Town in Slayers.

    Films — Animation 

    Live-Action TV 
  • A version of this is used on the American cop show NYPD Blue.
  • Could be used to describe the scene-setting montages used in The Apprentice.
  • Frequently used in television newscasts as a way of establishing location when the news segment is about a specific activity or one that tends to occur at a specific location.
  • Used nearly Once an Episode in Hannibal.
  • Parodied in the first series of Look Around You. There would be a series of shots of an everyday scene, followed by a total non sequitur as the narrator announced the topic of the episode.
    Narrator: Look around you.
    Woman prepares pastry
    Narrator: Look around you.
    Woman peels and slices apples
    Narrator: Just look around you.
    Woman lines dish with pastry and fills with apple slices
    Narrator: Have you guessed what we're looking for yet?
    Woman places raw pie in oven
    Narrator: Correct. The answer is...
    Woman opens oven and... cut to a shot of a raging waterfall
    Narrator: ...water.

    Video Games 
  • Also somewhat used in the video game Ape Escape and its sequels.

  • Chapter 1 of Apricot Cookie(s)! includes quite a few panels showing Apricot taking down the sheets, loading them into the washer, adding detergent, etc.

    Western Animation