Screen Direction Tips for Continuity: 180 Degree Rule

Jennifer and John once again go out in the field to answer some confusing questions about screen direction.

Video Transcript

Female: Hi, I’m Jennifer O’Rourke. In today’s tips and techniques John and I are gonna show you some things to work with continuity, to make your movie flow just a little bit better, have a little more fluidness to it. One of the tricks we want to talk to you about is what we call the 180 degree rule. It’s often called the line of action; I like calling it 180 degrees ‘cause it kind of reminds you stay within 180 degrees of your subject so your camera never crosses over this invisible line. In this case I’ve got the camera shooting at me from my left-hand side, and if I crossed over on the camera on the other side of me my cutaway shots would have me looking in the wrong direction, and we’ll show you some of those – an example.

Male: Here we are setting up our master shot, a standard two-person interview. Here we’re setting up for our first over-the-shoulder cutaway. As you can see, the camera’s been moved more than 180 degrees from the initial line of action. The result is a jarring cut where the interviewer and the interviewee appear to flip positions in the frame. And here we have the correct setup where the camera was placed less than 180 degrees from its initial plane, and you can see that this shot cuts together much more pleasantly.

Female: What we’re gonna show you on this technique is what we call cutting on the action, or when you’re supposed to be making your cut. You’re doing a wide shot of me walking up to this bench, but eventually I’m going to sit down and you’re gonna want to get a cutaway of me sitting down. Now you can take this cut in several different places. You could take the cut as I walk into the shot, and you see that empty chair, and then your cutaway is the empty chair, or you could take the cut after I’m already sitting down. But actually the best place to take the cut is during the sitting down portion, when I’m right about here, because my movement makes the cut less obvious.

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