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Breaking Down the 180-Degree Rule [with CC]


– Hey everyone, you're about to watch breaking down the 180-degree rule We wanted to remind everyone that you can find more segments covering a variety of video production topics at videomaker

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com [upbeat music] – There is a lot more to shooting a great scene than just planting a camera somewhere and yelling action We all want a shoot a scene that can be cut together to achieve great continuity with a good variety of shots, but 180-degree rule is a useful tool to help you achieve this In this segment we talk about the basic principles of the rule, establishing action lines, working with shifting action lines and redefining the action line using neutral shots, camera movement, and cutaways Knowing how to apply the 180-degree rule and when you might want to break it can take your production skills to the next level

[upbeat music] The basic idea behind the 180-degree rule is to establish and maintain the screen direction of your actors or action in the scene Failure to follow the rule can make scenes difficult to follow for your audience The most important factor in working with the 180-degree rule is knowing how to establish a line of action The line of action is an imaginary straight line that is drawn between a subject and an item or person they're interacting with or a straight line drawn along a path that a subject is moving on Let's look at two actors positioned for a dialogue scene as an example

If we look at this scene from overhead, we can draw a straight line from actor one sight line to actor two This is our line of action for this scene The 180-degree rule states that once you place your camera on one side of the line, you should keep all your shots within the 180-degree arc on the same side of the line in order to maintain proper screen direction When you first introduce a scene, you'll typically have an establishing shot to help orient your viewers The establishing shot gives the viewer the basic geography of the scene and determines the screen direction of the actors or action

This is the establishing shot for our scene An actor one faces screen right and actor two faces screen left As long as the camera doesn't cross our action line, our actors sight lines stay consistent This prevents the viewer from being confused or disoriented In contrast, if we cut to a shot that has the camera placed on the opposing side of the action line, our actors are now facing the opposite direction and their sight lines will not match up properly

Taking a look at the two shots in split screen clearly demonstrates the concept When shot properly, our actors look toward each other When the 180-degree rule is broken, our actors no longer appear to be looking toward each other We can also apply the 180-degree rule to action such as a person walking Let's take a look from overhead

We can establish our line of action by drawing a straight line in the direction he is moving If we place our camera on this side of the action line, our actor will be moving from screen left to screen right We can change angles freely on the same side of the line without altering the screen direction of the actor If we were to move our camera across the line and cut to that shot, it will appear to the viewer as if the actor is traveling the opposite direction This holds true for cars as well and it's extremely important in sports as you don't want to have a player running toward the goal line then cut to a shot that makes them appear to be running the opposite way

Of course you could break the 180-degree rule for dramatic purposes if the story supports it If your character is disoriented or lost, it can give the audience the same feeling So, we've learned how to establish the action line and what happens when we break the 180-degree rule Now let's talk about movement within a scene that can cause the action lines to shift If your scene has movement that will shift the action line, you'll want to have a basic idea of which direction you'd like to shoot

Let's take a three-person dialogue scene as an example Here's an overhead shot of the setup Our initial action line is between actor one and two because they will begin the scene by talking to each other But once actor one turns to actor three to speak, our action line will shift We're going to establish our scene by placing the camera here and try to keep this initial point of view in mind when our action line shifts

This means we'll shoot from this side of action line one and this side of action line two The key to making this work is showing the action that shifts the line In this case, we want to clearly see actor one change his sight line from actor two to actor three Once we've shown the turn, we can now place our camera anywhere along the 180-degree arc of the newly-established action line Now let's have actor two and three turn to each other to talk

Looking at the overhead, we can see we now have established another new action line Based off our initial view, we'd choose this side of the line Again, we must show one of our characters, turn his head to establish our new action line Once we've done that, we're free to get shots on the proper side of the line While something as simple as an actor changing his or her eyeline can shift the line of action an actor's movement can cause the line to shift as well

In this scene, one of our actors begins to walk off then turns back toward the other By changing their position, they've also moved the line of action and now a camera position that would have caused a screen direction shift is well within the newly-established 180-degree arc You can also intentionally create new action lines by using camera movement, neutral shots or cutaways In this scene we've established our action line, but we want to transition to the other side of the line One quick way of doing this is to show the camera breaking the line

As we move past our actor, our audience is now reoriented to the new screen direction and we're free to cut to any shots that fall in the 180-degree arc of the newly-established line You can also use a neutral shot in order to reestablish an action line A neutral shot is obtained by placing your camera on the action line itself, which allows you to then cut to a shot on either side of the action line In the walking example, we could cut to a neutral shot of the actor walking directly toward the camera, which is on our action line This frees us to cut to a shot on the other side of the action line without being disoriented

A third way to establish a new line is to use a cutaway shot In this example, we might use a shot of the surrounding landscape followed by a shot taken on the opposing side of the action line Keep in mind that each time you establish a new action line, you are now locked into that 180-degree arc until the line shifts with your subject's action, camera movement, or specific camera shots Creating a scene with well-selected shots and great continuity is a crucial building block to telling effective stories with video By understanding the 180-degree rule, you can shoot and edit your next project with confidence and style

Thanks for watching [upbeat music]

Source: Youtube

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