Before you start shooting, take a good look at your shot. Do you have everything that you want in the shot? Is the shot framed well? The following tips will help you create balanced, professional-looking footage.
Composition is as important in movies as it is in still photos. Look at the shapes and the colors in the shot. They should create a balanced picture and draw attention to the subject, rather than drawing the eye away from it. If you’re not happy with the way your shot is set up, try taking it from another position or angle.
Choose the backdrop carefully - A good background should be neutral or should compliment the video subject; it should not overwhelm it or distract from it. Avoid background clutter and objects that could merge with your subject to create distracting effects—such as a tree that appears to ‘grow’ out of a person’s head, or people waving and jumping around trying to get on camera!
Rule of Thirds - When setting up a composition, use the rule of thirds to create space, interest and balance in your shots. This rule states that if you divide your frame roughly into thirds, horizontally and vertically, any points where those lines intersect is a good place to position your main subject. Unless you're zoomed in close, placing your subject in the center of the shot does not create interest.
Watch for headroom, looking room, and lead space -These terms refer to the amount of room in the frame which is purposely left empty.
Headroom is the amount of space between the top of the subject’s head and the top of the frame. Leaving too much headroom wastes frame space and makes your subject appear to be sinking. In a close up, too little headroom draws the viewer’s eye to the chin and neck, rather than the eyes.
room is the amount of space left in the direction the subject is
looking. When shooting one person talking to another—the person on the
left should be framed to the left of center, the other person to
the right. If you’re shooting a subject who is talking directly to camcorder—place
the subject to the left or right of center. (This is related to
the Rule of Thirds principle.)
space refers to the space in front of a moving subject, for example
a person walking or a moving vehicle. This may also be referred to as
nose room, or look
space. Without adequate lead space, the frame will look awkward.
Top of page
Make sure your subjects are looking into the frame - This is related to Lead Space. Unless the subject is naturally passing through the frame, you should always try to film them so that they appear to be looking or moving towards the centre of the frame. If they don’t, your viewers will begin to feel a little uncomfortable as they’ll feel as though they’re “missing something”.
Perspective - Use perspective creatively to draw your audience into an image. It's a great way to change or enhance the mood. See Shot Angles for inspiration.
'Natural frames' - Shoot your subjects inside frames—for example, a building through an archway, a person in a doorway, your subject framed by the branches of a tree.
Top of page