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The Art of Composition
Transcript of The Art of Composition
Use your shotlist to get the shots you need.
The Basics of Composition:
Shot Sizes, Camera Placement, and Visual Design
a full body shot of the actor and the set.
gives actors room to move within a shot.
orients the audience before the camera cuts to an tighter shot.
The Establishing Shot
Generally used to set the scene.
Normally shows the exterior
(outside of a building or landscape)
The Cowboy Shot (MWS)
a standard shot that usually shows the character from knees to slightly above the character's head
Also called a
medium wide shot
Close Up (CU)
Usually above the persons chest or the nape of the neck to just slightly above or below the top of the head
to create intimacy or to show emotional responses from characters
Focusing on eyes or mouth, magnifies beyond what the human eye may normally see
Extreme Close up
the angle between the camera and the object
The more extreme the angle the more symbolic the shot
A view from directly overhead
Usually using a crane
Subjects look smaller and therefore insignificant
Camera's eye is at the same eye level as the subjects
most common view
shows subjects as we would expect to see them in real life.
a fairly neutral shot.
Sometimes the camera is tilted to suggest imbalance, transition and instability (very popular in horror movies).
When you are devising a plan to shoot a scene or even more specifically create a shot, the very first decision you'll make is the SHOT SIZE.
Once we've selected a shot size,
our next big decision will be
where to place our subject in the frame.
These terms refer to the amount of room in the frame which is strategically left empty.
Without this empty space, the framing will look uncomfortable.
The amount of space between the top of the subject's head and the top of the frame.
A common mistake in amateur video is to have far too much headroom, which doesn't look good and wastes frame space.
In any shot tighter than a MS, there should be very little headroom.
Rule of Thirds
The basic principle behind
the rule of thirds
is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts.
The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally.
Another framing approach is the rule of fifths which breaks a shot down into 25 sections.
Shots are generally defined by how close or far we place the camera in relation to the subject or more specifically by the field of view of the lens we choose.
A high angle shows the subject from above, i.e. the camera is angled down towards the subject.
This has the effect of diminishing the subject, making them appear less powerful, less significant or even submissive.
Camera is placed low, looking up
gives the impression of being more powerful or dominant.
How big is our canvas?
Over The Shoulder Shots (OTS)
Intra Frame Placement
Lead Room/Negative Space
Lead room is empty space
in front of the subject. It can suggest open space or what is ahead (good or bad).
Negative Space refers to empty space behind the subject. It can suggest uneasiness or create suspense.
Rule of Fifths
We can create intimacy between characters by "dirtying up" the frame with an OTS shot
a shot cropped between the shoulders and the belt line. Also called a bust shot.
Especially when shooting mediums to close-ups, you want to avoid backgrounds that compete or stick out of the characters head or body. Keep the area immediately behind them clean.
A vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.
Balancing Your Frame
Look for opportunities to use lines that are already part of the set or the architecture of the set as a way to guide the viewers eyes where you want
Frame Within Frame
Another powerful visual choice is to find ways to direct the viewers eye by using foreground objects as framing devices.
The Medium Shot (MS)
a standard shot that usually shows the character from waist up
Used for dialogue between characters
Important shot size for comedy
The 180 Degree Rule
When using OTS shots, it is important to observe this rule so that screen direction is maintained for an audience. Be careful to not JUMP THE LINE!
Here is an overlay of both rules:
Here is the original photo.
Here is the same photo cropped
to the Rule of Thirds.
Here is the same photo cropped
to the Rule of Fifths.
Another approach to framing is center framing. Center framing can work well if you can build symmetry into your shots.
Be conscious of finding ways to place objects or subjects in your frame in positions that create visual balance.