Rules of Composition

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most well known rules of videography composition.  It helps to create well balanced and interesting shots and can be used for a range of video styles; from interview style shots to how-to and product demonstrations.

Digital Photography School describes the basic principle as 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, your shot becomes more balanced and enables the viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally.



Lead Room

Lead room is another crucial composition technique which will help you to produce more professional looking video's.

Lead room applies to when you are framing a subject such as a person, or a moving object.  In both instances, good composition would result in whitespace in either the direction that the person is facing or in front of the object that is moving.  

Head Room

Headroom refers to the amount of space above a subjects head in your shot.  The ideal amount of headroom is dependent on the type of shot you are filming.  For example, if you are shooting a medium shot then the correct amount of headroom should be a small part of the top 1/3.  However, if you are shooting a close-up shot or an extreme close up for an interview style video, then no headroom is required.

Shot-Type examples

Wide Shot / Long Shot 

A wide shot or long shot is useful for showing an environment in its full glory.  With the emphasis usually being on showing the surroundings

Long Shot 

Often used at the start of a new scene because it shows the viewer where the story is taking place and helps to locate the subject in their surroundings.

Medium Shot (Full Body)

With a full body shot, the viewer is getting closer to the subject but can still see a modest amount of the environment surrounding them.  The environment is still important but the subject gains importance also. This shot is often used between a close-up and a wide or long shot to prevent the cut between the two extremes appearing too abrupt.

Medium Shot (Half Body)

This shot includes the subject from the waist upwards.  It is likely that the viewer has already seen an establishing shot earlier in the scene (wide or long shot), so they know where the scene is set.  This shot can be used to concentrate more on what the subject is saying or doing whilst still allowing them to interact with their environment.

Close Up

Close up shots are used to demonstrate the emotion of the subject.  This could include the passion for their product or service or the pain of their problem.  By getting close to the subject you are telling the viewer that the background inst that important - it's how the subject feels that matters.

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