Apply the Rule of Thirds when composing motion picture images. Divide the screen vertically and horizontally into three equal sections (two lines each way) and where those lines intersect is where you should weight the subject of the composition. This results in more dynamic and visually interesting images, plus you have to contend with movement and offsetting a shot so it’s asymmetrical allows the eye to perceive the direction in which a subject is looking or talking.

Rule of Thirds grid

Generally speaking you’ll shoot interviews in a MS (medium shot), MCU (medium close-up) or CU (close-up).  Don’t cut people off at joints and when in CU it’s better to cut off the top of the head and leave a little space at the bottom of the frame (showing their neck) so it doesn’t appear like the chin is resting on the edge of the screen. The wider the shot is the more headroom (space from the top of the subject’s head to the top screen edge) you will need. In a MCU the head touches the top of the screen. In a CU the subject’s forehead is typically cut out of the image.

When shooting interviews you should alternate screen direction for editing purposes. For example if you shoot subject A on screen right, you should shoot subject B on screen left.

That way when you edit, you don’t get this.

Alternating screen direction back and forth isn’t mandatory but you don’t want every subject on the same side of the screen.  You could cut to an insert shot (neutral shot) like this.

Videomaker is a good resource.  Here’s what they write about composing images.  “The Basic Rules of Composition”

The rules of film and video making aren’t hard and fast. Rules are made to be broken but only by those who understand what rules they are breaking and why.


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