Top Tips For Composing Shots For Broadcast and Online Video
Composition is how your shot looks - how all the elements are balanced in the shot and come together in the end. Taking the time to compose a good shot and knowing what you are looking for will make your end-product look so much more professional. Just sticking to a few key tips will take you a long way.
The variables include how close you are to your subject, how zoomed in you are to the subject, how much of the picture is in focus, what else you include in your shot and where you position your subject within the shot. Here's just a few tips and phrases from the DV Talent Shooting & Directing course.
- Have the interviewer sit close to the camera - the closer the subject's eye-line is to the lens, the more connected the viewer will feel to the subject. Taking this to it's extreme: if the subject looks straight down the lens, it is very intimate and intense. For an example of this, watch the excellent and moving Our War series.
- Filming from below a subject's eye-line makes them seem more authoritative. Filming from above diminishes them.
- Position the subject to either side of centre, but looking across the shot, in the direction of the empty portion of the screen. So, if they are positioned to the left of the centre of the shot, they would be looking towards the right of the screen.
- Make sure the focus is set to the subject's eyes, as that's what you look at.
- Being zoomed in makes you feel more connected to the subject. For extremely intimate moments, you can even zoom all the way into the eyes.
- Follow the rule of thirds - the same rules that were used in Renaissance paintings.
- Put the horizon either a third of the way up your shot, or two thirds.
- Put the subject a third of the way across the screen - not in the middle.
- But for web-video, position subjects centrally.
- Zooming in from a distance (working at the "Long End Of The Lens") is prettier than setting the same composition with a wide-angle lens from up close.
- Working at the long end of the lens "compresses" everything on the shot - this is a great way to make streets look busier, for example.
- Working at the long end shortens the depth of field - the amount of stuff that is in focus at any one time. This can create great artistic shots.
- "Dirty Framing" is having something in the foreground out of focus to make the shot more interesting. It works particularly well with bright colours.
- Close ups are visually more interesting than wide angle shots.
- Use wide angle outdoors for huge vistas, particularly empty landscapes.
- Use wide angle indoors to make a room look bigger and shoot more of it.
- Images should be strong, bold, graphic and iconic.
- Shots should be uncluttered. If something appears significant in shot, it has to be relevant to the subject matter or sequence.
- Shoot on a tripod as much as possible - it looks so much more professional.
- You can start in close and zoom out to reveal something.