Can someone please explain the use and significance of flyover sequences between scenes in TV shows and movies? (For example, the TV show House M.D. has flyover shots between scenes of the outsides of the hospital that Dr. House works in.)

Typically, what effect is a flyover sequence expected to have on the viewer?


In my experience, it can be used in two ways.

1) It establishes the location that the next scene will take place in. For example, I used a shot tilting up the outside of a skyscraper in this video. The viewer then gets the sense that the next shot (of a board room) takes place inside that skyscraper.

2) Flyovers between scenes can also evoke a sense that time is passing, though the location of the following scene is the same as the previous scene. Movies also sometimes use a shot of an inanimate object in the room, such as a sculpture or piece of art, for a few seconds, in order to show passage of time. It puts the characters and action in the background and gives the viewers a visual break. The technique is equivalent to a novel ending one chapter and starting another one, or displaying extra white space between paragraphs.


Typically a flyover is used as an establishing shot to indicate where and what time the following scenes take place and generally make the world feel bigger. If the show took place exclusively inside, the viewer may realise they're just watching a bunch of people on a set instead of characters out in the real world.

The when is also fairly important in House: the hospital is full of fluorescent lights and closed blinds which makes it difficult to judge the time without an outside perspective.

The establishing shots in House, and many other broadcast TV shows, are also typically used after advert breaks to allow new viewers to understand what's going on in a show in progress.

  1. To establish a time / place
  2. To establish that is it is now day / night
  3. To give weight to the scene based on the area... city / rural / ghetto / etc.
  4. To break up a light / dark scene
  5. The simplest answer could also be that they wanted to have an easy transition between scenes. You can't always just cut sce

I'll add that it may also be used since in the US there are many TV commercial "interrupting" the TV shows (at least on cable). For example, in France, usually, there is only one interruption for TV shows. Taking the time for this kind of view allows to reintroduce softly the viewer into the show.

So, for me, it'a way to answer: When? Where? And take a brief break (since you can't have all the time "action"), slow down the scene, maybe fill the blank.

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