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Saved by Sam Webster
on October 6, 2009 at 8:44:11 pm

Framing is the process of composing a shot in film to conscientiously incorporate objects in the frame. Essentially, it's the mise-en-scene captured within the frame of the camera's lense. It encompasses a vary wide variety of elements from the position of the camera to the position of the subject and requires a very conscious effort to place objects of importance in key areas of the frame.


Rule of Thirds


Before getting into specific types of shots, an important guideline for almost every shot must be explained: the rule of thirds. This rule, also used in still photography, helps to orient the subject(s) of a shot in a position that is most pleasing to the eye. To know how to compose the shot, the frame must be divided into thirds both horizontally and verically, making a total of nine boxes in the frame. Whatever is in the shot where the lines intersect will be visually appealing, as well as matches with the horizontal or vertical lines (mediacollege).




















The picture on the right is a great representation of the rule of thirds: the horizon and the beach both run on the two horizontal lines; the boat, chairs, and distant mountain are all positioned closely to an intersection of the lines, leaving plenty of space between to appreciate each element in and of itself, but not distinctly separating any of them. The rule of thirds is essential to most techniques in framing, giving the camera operator an idea of where to keep everything in a shot.


Open Spaces


Often shots can become crowded if enough space isn't left in the frame for either the subject to fit or for the viewer to infer action between spaces. Some of the more common spaces ar referred to as headroom, noseroom (or looking room), and leading room. All of these allow the subject to fit comfortably within the frame of a shot or leave space for the viewer to infer some sort of action within the empty space as well as beyond the end of the frame.

-Headroom is the space left above a subjects head within the frame (Thompson, 64). This is commonly employed in film and photography to leave space between the subject's head and the edge of the frame, reducing the amount of crowding of the subject in a particular part of the frame for the viewer. Generally, viewer's eyes draw to the middle of images, not the edges, so it is more aesthetically pleasing to keep some space between the edge of the frame and the subject. The same description applies to footroom, keeping distance between the subject's feet and the bottom of the frame (64).

-Noseroom, or looking room, is space left between a subject and the edge of the frame that is the focus of the subject's attention (64). This is most commonly seen in eyeline match shots where a subject looks offscreen in one direction, and then whatever is being looked at is shown in the following shot. Usually, there is space left between the first subject and the edge of the frame to imply that there is some space between the subject in the first shot and the subject in the second shot. Someone looking offscreen at the edge of the frame would be unnatural and awkward for viewers because there is no relevant scenery for the person to be looking through.

-Leading room is very similar to the concept of looking room, but is employed during a tracking shot. Space is left in the frame in front of a moving subject to appease the viewer's sense of reality that the subject must have space to move into (mediacollege.com). Just as seeing someone looking at the edge of the frame would be awkward for viewers, someone walking into the edge of the frame would be awkward as well, leaving viewers no sense of setting ahead of the moving subject.


Notice the rule of thirds employed in all of these shots as well: the girl's eyes are about 1/3 of the way down from the bottom, to woman is lined up in the middle of the frame in the second shot, and the baby is near an intersection of lines in the final shot.


Camera Position


The position of the camera is imperative to shooting a well-composed shot, and it can also create emotional overtones to exaggerate the setting or performances of actors. High angles give a sense of detachment for viewers, placing them above the action and above the characters (both literally and figuratively). Neutral angles are shot from average adult height and don't usually have as dramatic of an effect on viewers as high or low angles will, since we are used to viewing from this angle in daily life. Low angles can represent views from pets or children, or can make the subject seem to be rapidly closing in on the camera. Low angles also give characters much more power on the screen as they look down upon viewers, contrary to high angles which give the audience more power and make the characters seem weaker (Stinson).

Works Cited


"Framing." Mediacollege.com. Wavelength Media. n.d. Web. 6 October 2009

Stinson, Jim. "All About Camera Angles." Videomaker.com. November 2002. Web. 6 October 2009

"The Rule of Thirds." Mediacollege.com. Wavelength Media. n.d. Web 6 October 2009

Thompson, Roy. Grammar of the Shot. Boston: Focal Press, 1998. Print.

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