In the time of digital cameras, whether they be a dedicated DSLR, video camera, or even your cell phone, capturing video is right at your fingertips. And in the time of social media, people want more and more to be able to get clicks, likes, followers, and subscribers. If you want to learn how to position someone, or something, within a frame, then you have come to the right place. When framing, knowing what to look for will not only make the job way easier, but will allow you to achieve that cinematic feel everyone is always aiming for as well.
Every filmmaker, whether making a movie, show, creative video, commercial, documentary, etc… is aware of framing, and how to set up shots so the scene is aesthetically pleasing to the viewer’s eye, while not creating a distraction from the story. When creating a video, and planning the shots, it is important that the shots avoid any awkward spacing in the headroom or on the right or left of the main subject or object in the frame. Though it may seem like there should be equal parts of negative space on all sides of the subject, putting the focal point at the dead center of the frame, these awkward spaces oftentimes pull the viewer’s attention away from the story or content being told if not utilizing better composition for the purpose at hand. There are a variety of compositional techniques within the world of filmmaking. Keeping points of interest and key elements slightly off of the middle of the frame and unobstructed by dividing lines helps to keep a shot dynamic and interesting to a viewer. This methodology is how the Rule of Thirds works.
Rule of Thirds
The good news about setting up framing for a shot is that a lot of the features in cameras can help you visualize what needs to go where. The three-by-three grid that can be found on the viewfinders of most modern cameras is there to help guide you when considering how to frame a shot, and is known as the Rule of Thirds Grid. These grids follow the composition guideline for framing by following the principles of the Rule of Thirds. In order to follow the Rule of Thirds, one must divide the image into imaginary thirds, evenly spacing two lines horizontally and two lines vertically. As previously stated, most cameras allow you to see these lines when looking at the viewfinder. Once the imaginary lines are in place, nine boxes will be created in the frame.
When framing a shot of a person, specifically a talking head or medium closeup, it is always best practice to line up their eyes and brow area with the top left or top right intersecting points of the vertical lines and the top horizontal line of the thirds. The side that you pick can be determined by which direction the on-screen talent is speaking. If the person on screen is facing the left side of the frame, then lining them up on the right third will allow for speaking room in the direction they are facing, thus resulting in a more natural and cinematic look. This will leave roughly two-thirds of the horizontal empty space on the side the talent is facing, which is called “looking room” in the industry.
These grid lines are also important composition tips for adding overlay elements to the video in post-production, so much so that the term for adding important elements such as names and titles to a video is referred to the section of the Rule of Thirds in which they are usually positioned; lower thirds. Different compositions will require different uses of these guidelines, but knowing the basics is a good place to start.
Framing Objects and Landscapes
The rule of thirds can be very useful for framing many types of shots, not just close-ups of people and talking heads. Whether you are filming an animal in the woods, an awesome sunset over a horizon, or a large tree blowing in the wind, the Rule of Thirds, and the framing grid can still largely help achieve a cinematic look. Generally, when filming a shot with a horizon in it, the best way to frame it is by picking one of the horizontal thirds to align with the horizon. Framing the shot by using the Thirds grid helps to prevent the horizon from being placed right in the center of the frame, which often looks like it is splitting the frame in half. Framing with thirds also keeps the horizon from being placed too high or low in the frame which can look awkward as well.
Additionally, when filming landscapes, if there happen to be tall objects, like trees or mountains, lining them up with one of the two horizontal lines on the Thirds grid can create a more cinematic look as well. This will prevent the tall object from being placed right in the center of the frame, which can not only look awkward, but prevent the viewer from being able to focus on the rest of the landscape as well.
Framing can be a simple way to achieve a professional look, and have an audience take your film seriously. Whether you are making a narrative piece, an ad, or a video for clients, poor framing will be one of the first things they notice if not done correctly. If you want to ensure your video always has top-of-the-line cinematography, 7 Wonders is a company you can trust to deliver. We are an award-winning company with an eye for what looks great on screen. If you want to be sure to please your audience with extremely high-quality and professional videos, then we are the team for you!