The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline which suggests that you take an image and divide it into nine equal parts with two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally space horizontal lines. By placing your subject on one of these intersecting lines, it’s thought to create a more pleasing visual than simply centering the shot.
Placing points of interest in the intersections or along the lines your subject becomes more balanced and allows the viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that, when viewing images, people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot.
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The same principle can be applied when shooting video. For instance, when shooting an interview with a stationary subject, be sure your subject is standing (or sitting) in a ‘Rule of Thirds’ position. And be sure to compose your shot applying the Rule of Thirds, creating space in front of your subject. Make sure your background isn’t so busy that it’s distracting from the subject. Find a simple background, or a background that doesn’t have a lot of activity behind it. For instance, if you’ve got someone in the background picking their nose or drinking a bottle of water, it doesn’t matter how great an interview you record, the audience is going to be looking at that instead of your subject matter.
So when you’re in the field and you have a camera and a tripod and you’re getting ready to set up your shot, what is one of the first things that you should do in order to apply the rule of thirds?
Look through the lens of your camera, place your subject matter off center so that it has some space around it, to the left and to the right – if you center it as in our first example of the rock, you see that it’s just not as interesting of a shot as the off center composition.
Bottom line, if you begin your video production with excellent digital video recordings you will save time and money in post and create a more pleasant video production.