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Rule of thirds in video

What is it and why should you forget it?

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WHAT IS THE RULE OF THIRDS?

The rule of thirds is a simple tool to help you with the composition of your shots so that they appear more pleasing to the eye. Imagine drawing four lines over your image that evenly splits the image into a grid of nine.

Rule-of-Thirds-Grid

Each vertical column of squares is exactly one third the width of the image. Each horizontal row of squares is exactly one third the height of the image. Each line represents exactly one third of the image, and where the lines cross is the supposed sweet spot for where you should frame the focus of your image.

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From Disney’s The Mandalorian

Here you can see that the character’s face and his gun are framed at the intersection of the lines. Looks nice, right?

 

 

WHY IS THE RULE OF THIRDS USEFUL FOR VIDEO EDITORS?

The rule of thirds is useful for video editors because sometimes the footage you receive has not been shot perfectly and you may need to reframe it. This is especially useful if you have been given 4K footage or higher resolution and need to output in HD. You can reposition the footage in the frame following the rule of thirds to ensure it looks pleasing to the eye.

 

 

HOW TO USE THE RULE OF THIRDS

As well as framing footage so that the point of focus is where the lines cross, it can also be appealing to frame footage so that the subjects are split evenly across three parts of the screen.

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From Disney’s The Mandalorian

Here you can see the even split with the main subject taking up the centre column. Notice how boxes 1 and 3 have empty space in the top third while box 2 fills all 3 thirds, adding focus to what is in the top of box 2 – the main characters face and the focal point of the whole composition.

 

 

RULE OF THIRDS EXAMPLES IN FILM

I’m going to use The Mandalorian (because it’s ace) to show you some examples of the Rule of Thirds. You will find examples in literally every single film out there though.

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From Disney’s The Mandalorian

In this example the background and foreground characters are framed at opposite sides of the intercrossing lines. After years of being exposed to this rule it feels natural for your eyes to go to each of these positions in the frame.

 

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From Disney’s The Mandalorian

In this frame you can see they’ve made use of splitting the image into three columns again.

 

 

WHY YOU SHOULD FORGET THE RULE OF THIRDS

So now you’ve gone to all this trouble to learn what the Rule of Thirds in video actually means, why would you possibly want to forget it all? Well because like most rules, it was made to be broken. Unfortunately the rule of thirds has become so ingrained in common knowledge that it has eclipsed awareness of all the other rules for helping composition which are, quite frankly, better!

 

 

ALTERNATIVES TO THE RULE OF THIRDS

There are a few (more advanced) alternatives to the Rule of Thirds that can offer a more appealing composition.

  • The Golden Ration
  • The Arabesque
  • Coincidence
  • Leading Lines
  • Dynamic Symmetry
  • Radiating Lines
  • Gamut
  • Figure to Ground Relationship
  • Elipses
  • Enclosures
  • Law of Proximity

You can see in this video below a quick overview of some of these concepts with examples in film.

 

Were you aware of some of the alternative rules to the Rule of Thirds in video? Comment below

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