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Tips & Tricks

Do Not Break These 5 Rules of Composition For Video

By Hanssie on June 5th 2016

Rules, schmules…artists love to toss any rules impressed upon them out the window in the name of creativity. Whether it be ignoring a No Trespassing sign or breaking all rules when it comes to composition, that is their prerogative. Sometimes art is better for it, sometimes it isn’t, but he consensus is, typically, that fundamentals are a foundation for art; learn them, then do your own thing. Recently, we’ve posted a few articles featuring a few compositional rule breakers, but are there rules you should not break? Specifically rules of composition for video?

The following video from B&H Photo‘s YouTube channel suggests that there are five rules of composition for video, and suggests why these specifically should not be broken.


1. Rule of Thirds

It is one of the most basic and well-known rules, the rule of thirds is the cardinal rule for stills and video. Use the rule of thirds and the negative space to help you place your subject in the frame.


2. 180 Degree Rule

The 180 degree rule helps establish continuity between shots, making this one of the most important rules of composition for video. When filming opposite angles, the camera should only shoot from one side of the line and never cross the 180 degree line in order to film the other angle. Otherwise, the characters will be looking the wrong way and you’ll break the continuity of the shot.

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3. Headroom

This is the space between the actor’s head and the top of the frame. This rule is especially important in a documentary or corporate style videos. With cinematic videos, you have more wiggle room to be creative.

4. Create Depth

No one wants a flat and boring frame. It’s always important to create depth by positioning various elements in the foreground and background.


5. Know When to Break the Rules

Not only is it important to know how and when to break a rule, you should know why you are breaking it and how it will help the scene.

So, as it is said in almost every piece on the rules of composition, these are more principles of good photographic and cinematic technique, and they are helpful to understand and vital to know. Once you know them, you can properly break them so that you can create art. After all, there are no rules in art.

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Terms: #Composition

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robert McGlynn

    Would love to see more video production related content (and courses) on SLR Lounge.

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  2. Paul Wynn

    Fantastic video with this post, thank you for sharing. Seems to me the rules apply equally well to video and stills photography.

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