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Old May 22nd, 2009, 08:47 PM   #1
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Question about Framing

Why is that one sided interviews are typically shown with the subject sitting either to the right or left of the frame as oposed to sitting in the middle. I have several of these type of interviews to shoot and was just wondering is this an industry standard and if so, whats the reason for it?
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 10:15 PM   #2
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It has to do with perspective and artistic composition principles, and drawing the eye. What is recommended is to chop your screen into 9 equal sections. Your screen will look like a tick tack toe grid. The idea is to put point of interest at the intersection of those screens. Eyes will go on one of the upper of the two intersections. Then the talent looks to open side of screen, giving "nose room". If you take a look at those interview you are talking about and do that, you will probably find just that. ( I think its called rule of thirds or something like that) The lower thirds are reserved for graphics in documentary type work you seem to be referring to.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 11:29 PM   #3
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Google "rule of thirds" and or "golden thirds", you'll find the underlying "rule". There are reasons for this compositional rule that help guide the viewer to the important part of the scene. It also avoids that "mug shot" vibe (now probably better known as the "deer/doofus in the webcam" look) if you light it right.

After learning about the "rules", also keep in mind that rules are made to be broken - sometimes. You'll need to decide what look/feel you're after for the final production and take it from there.
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 12:58 PM   #4
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Keep in mind that if placing a person off centre (as I do), it's important to make sure they are looking off the axis of the camera lens slightly (as if talking to a person sitting directly beside the lens) or else the framing looks awkward. For example, a news anchor looking directly at the lens (reading a teleprompter usually...) will be centred in frame while interview subjects will be off centre and looking either slightly screen right or left as if addressing an interviewer, with their body SLIGHTLY angled to face the person who may or may not in fact be there.

There is also some benefit in addressing the content of the "blank" area of the frame as well. I choose to see the frame as a balance scale and place something in the "empty" space (usually out of focus and generally inconsequential such as a plant, piece of furniture or window...) to "balance" the frame.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #5
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Shaun:

Is there any real difference if I place the camera on an angle as oposed to placing the person on an angle. It wil be a longer interview and I think they may be more comfortable sitting straight and looking forward. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?
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Old May 28th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #6
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Naw...just rotate the chair they're in so their toes and knees point at the interviewer. For the subject, it'll feel just like they're looking straight ahead.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 01:18 PM   #7
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Thanks Bill! It's those small details that make a difference.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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Kevin: the camera should ALWAYS be placed first to get the BACKGROUND you are looking for, and then the chair moved into position to get your interviewee position right, assuming you have enough control over the space.

I choose my background, set up camera, place a seat and check for framing with a volunteer to "sit in". THEN add lights to get the look I'm going for.
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Old May 29th, 2009, 12:02 AM   #9
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I think the reasoning behind the use of the rule of thirds has to do with perspective and enhancing dimensionality. If you always place everything in the center and shoot straight on you end up with very flat looking footage, since you are going from 3D reality to 2D media. My impression is that the rule of thirds is just a way to help add perspective to shots by getting things off axis and introducing diagonal lines.

If you think about it, almost everything we do is to enhance perspective and add dimensionality to our shots. Lighting helps create perspective. Tracking and crane shots create changes in perspective. Changing focal lengths enhances perspective. And we frame our shots to create perspective.
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