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Old February 8th, 2005, 10:52 AM   #1
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What exactly is the "stage line" or "180 degree line"?

Yeah, I have to create a 1:30 film (I'm gonna shoot freestyle mountainbiking) that takes advantage of the stage line and crosses it using the nuetral zone for film class.

What exactly does this mean?

Thanks,

mike
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Old February 8th, 2005, 11:39 AM   #2
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Doesn't your film class have a textbook?
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Old February 8th, 2005, 11:41 AM   #3
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Difficult to explain without a diagram... but imagine a simple scene wit two people facing one another and talking. John is on the left, Marsha on the right. The camera is showing both of them in the same shot.

Draw a line between John and Marsha. This is "The Line" that is normally not crossed. (Notice I didn't say never).

The camera is free to move around, anywhere on the side of the line that will keep John on the "left" and Marsha on the "Right".

If you suddenly cross the line in the middle of the dialogue, it will appear to the view that suddenly, John and Marsha have magically switched places.

This can be confusing. Which might, or might not be an effect you want to convery.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #4
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Hi Michael,

It refers to the fact that you should film the 'action' in no more than a 180 arc in front of you. The reason being is that the viewer will become disoriented as to direction of the action if you exceed this limit. The best example of this I can think of is when you watch say, football on TV. The cameras are placed on one side of the field and are kept there for the duration of the telecast. That way, you the viewer can see the change of direction on the playing field at the end of each quarter or say if a ball is intercepted. If they were to keep jumping back and forth with cameras on both sides, you would be disoriented. You'll only see those reverse angle shots during replay or isolation shots such as a player's facial expression.

You'll notice the same with auto racing. The camera could be placed in the center field and simply follow the cars around the track in a circle. That's not done because it would violate the 180 rule.

To sum it up, this 180 line is for giving you, the viewer, a directional reference when given the limited peripheral view afforded by the camera.

Hope this clears it up for you.

regards,

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Old February 8th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #5
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Another way to illustrate this, if you're a football fan.

Have you noticed that the main coverage cameras are on one side of the stadium? That is, the left-to-right action retains its orientation. (Referees' penalty indications by hand would be a bit chaotic otherwise, not to mention the viewers' orientation.)

Same basic principle. Screw it up in your school project and you'll learn it well.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 05:19 PM   #6
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<<imagine a simple scene wit two people facing one another and talking. John is on the left, Marsha on the right. The camera is showing both of them in the same shot.

Draw a line between John and Marsha. This is "The Line" that is normally not crossed. (Notice I didn't say never).

The camera is free to move around, anywhere on the side of the line that will keep John on the "left" and Marsha on the "Right". >>


Richard, although your conclusion is correct, I think your placement of the line may need rethinking. From the camera's perspective in the master shot, the line should be drawn between the camera and the two principals (not between the principals). So now it is easy to see how you can roam around anywhere on your side of the line without problems, as John will always stay on the left and Marsha on the right.

The easy way to think of it is to compare it to an actual stage production. The master shot becomes an audience member; the edge of the stage (proscenium) is the line. You can walk around the orchestra pit, but you can't hop up onto stage as that will cross the line.

That's the most basic form. It can get pretty complicated when you start considering three people standing in a triangle, or moving masters that cross the line, or actors rearranging themselves etc. A good book on blocking should illuminate things. Making diagrams helps to keep everyone "honest".

Now: these days, you're likely to see just as many examples of line crosses than not in contemporary filmmaking. I personally think it's important to know the "rules" before you choose to break them rather than dismiss the whole concept as uncool. Maintaining screen direction helps the audience understand where the actors are in relation to each other; occasionally I have seen examples where screen direction is not observed and suddenly it appears that characters are looking at different people than you think they are, which can be confusing.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 08:01 PM   #7
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Charles,

"Between" is the word that tripped me. I should have said "Connecting". Between could be construed as "dividing".

I meant the image you described, of course. I did say it was hard without a diagram!
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Old February 8th, 2005, 08:15 PM   #8
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One thing I haven't heard anyone say yet is that if someone looks somewhere else, a new line can be created. Let's say that John is looking at Marsha, but then that whore Suzie, who John's been sneaking around with, comes into the room, and John looks at her, a new "line" is created connecting John and Suzie. You can now move the camera anywhere on the appropriate side of THAT line. The appropriate side would be determined, most likely, by which direction John has to look, in the original setup, to see Suzie. Dig?


A book that beats this topic like a dead horse, and then chops up the horse and beats the chopped up horse-chunks, is "The 5 C's of Cinematography." Some of the info's a little dated, but it'll set you straight.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 09:45 PM   #9
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Oh, so you want to play, huh Josh??!

In that instance, you could certainly create a new line, or you can maintain the original one depending on how far John's eyeline to Suzie is compared to Marsha. You can simply add Suzie into the equation, so that John looks close right to Marsha and far right to Suzie, Marsha looks close left to John and far left to Suzie, and Suzie splits her looks left to John and right to Marsha.

Where it gets tricky is if you instead decide to create that new line so that John looks close right to Suzie and Suzie looks close left to John. But what happens if Marsha pipes up? John would likely have to look on the other side of the lens to her, in other words to the left, and Suzie would look to her right. And now you need a new angle on Marsha that requires her to split her looks, right to John and left to Suzie.

And where it gets REALLY tricky is if you want to shoot over-the-shoulders. To maintain these eyelines, you have to work inside the triangle; over John's left shoulder to Marsha, but over his right shoulder to Suzie.

and on it goes...
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Old February 8th, 2005, 10:17 PM   #10
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Or. . .

You can be really hip and cool and trendy and have a constantly circling dolly/steadicam shot for the entire scene, a la bully. It'll make you hip and dope and whatnot.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 11:07 PM   #11
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Ok Charles...please stop, I'm getting a migraine just reading that post. :-)

-gb-
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Old February 9th, 2005, 07:13 AM   #12
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Also see this thread that talks about the same and links to some
pictures to more clearly illustrate this:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=38334
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Old February 9th, 2005, 07:44 AM   #13
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You can cross the line as long as you show the line being crossed with a moving camera, but if the camera is static/stationary, you have to stay behind the line. When I approach a scene, I simply stage my actors in the area that I want them to be in, and then I imagine a plus between them. This plus gives you four possible sides to stick to.
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Old February 9th, 2005, 08:17 AM   #14
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You can certainly check out the Camera 101 article I wrote on this last year that does a very good job of explaining the concept.

Cheers
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Old February 9th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #15
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For what it's worth, about a month ago, I stumbled on the movie "Shane" showing on cable. It was near the end, and I hadn't seen it in a looooong time. There's a fight in the cabin, that spills out into the 'yard' outside. The camera jumps all over the line in this one,... and it works. Kinda.
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