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The Rule of Thirds Explained

The Rule of Thirds Explained

Have you ever looked a piece of video online and thought, ‘Mmm that doesn’t look quite right?”  the content may be great and just what you’re looking for, however there is something that doesn’t sit right.  It’s the niggling doubt that can make the difference between a fair bit of video content and a great piece of video content which brings in business and builds positive profile for you.

There are a number of reasons why a video may not sit well.  It could be that the sound isn’t good.  There are a lot of people out there now doing good video content on prosumer kit; in most of those cases unless they’ve invested in some additional technology the sound won’t be great.  Perhaps it’s a little tinny or reminds you of a bathroom; worse, perhaps it’s just not very clear and there are lot extraneous noises distracting you?

Another common reason for video not giving the right impression is that the person appearing on camera is just not comfortable with that concept, or possibly is more used to delivering to a room of real people as opposed to a virtual audience.  It does take quite a bit of skill to make the jump from a face to face presentation to a virtual one; in fact it’s something we here at Take One TV spend quite a bit of time helping people with when they work with us.

However, one of the most common causes of unease in video is related to the rule of thirds.  This is a general guide, originating from the world of photography, which applies to the process of setting visual images within a frame. It provides a way to improve the composition and balance of the frame for the viewer.  You apply it by aligning subjects with virtual guide lines and their intersection points.

For example, if we were to divide up your screen into 9 equal parts using two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, all the important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

When filming, it is considered good practice to line the body up to one of the vertical lines and the person's eyes to a horizontal line. If you’re filming a moving subject, the same pattern is followed, with the majority of the extra space being in front of the subject. This is called ‘looking room’ where the subject’s eyeline is looking into the frame, and not out of the frame which leads the viewer to wonder ‘What’s happening over there?’

However, points of interest in the frame do not have to actually touch one of the lines to take advantage of the rule of thirds. And sometimes rules are there to be broken, providing dramatic and impact – I am thinking her of some of the up the nostril shots that seem to be popular in some videos!  However, you have to know the rules to be able to break them without detracting from your composition, and ultimately losing your audience because they simply felt something wasn’t quite right.

If you’d like to know more about how to create the perfect video for your business, give us a call on 01494 898919.


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