180 Degree Rule – Understand it or DIE!
You might hear on set a DP or camera guy to discuss the 180 Degree Rule and say:
“You can’t put the camera there, you’ll cross the line”
There’s a lot more to shooting a great scene than just planting a camera somewhere and yelling action. We all want to shoot a scene that can be cut together to achieve great continuity with a good variety of shots.
The 180-degree rule is a cinematography guideline that states that two characters in a scene should maintain the same left/right relationship to one another. When the camera passes over the invisible axis connecting the two subjects, it is called crossing the line and the shot becomes what is called a reverse angle. Reversing the angle is commonly thought to be disorienting and can distract the audience from the intent of the scene.
The videos the illustrate the basic principles of the 180-degree 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 a higher level.
I broke the 180-degree rule on my film This is Meg and all is OK. I knew the line was there but made a call and it worked out perfect. You just have to understand the rule so then you can later choose to follow it or not.
BONUS: The Robert Rodriguez: 10 Minute Film School (The 1st & Original)
As we discuss the 180 Degree Rule, the man, the myth, the legend Robert Rodriguez gave this amazing film class years ago. This is the first ever of the 10-minute film school segments that Robert Rodriguez does for all his films. It was originally broadcast in 1993. This episode gives Robert Rodriguez the opportunity to teach a class of film students everything there is to know about film-making in just ten minutes.
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