May 16, 2017

Watch: The 180-Degree Rule Explained in Less than 2 Minutes

This is one of the first and most important fundamentals you learn in film school. Why not learn it from this 2-minute video, tuition free?

If your professor isn't too tired/frazzled/hungover to just toss a syllabus on your desk and call it good, your first day of film school is most likely going to include a lesson on the 180-degree rule. This filmmaking fundamental is key in keeping the spacial continuity of your film clear and concise, which will in turn keep your audience from being confused about what's happening on-screen. In this short video from Fandor, you get to learn all the basics of the 180-degree rule, how to follow it, and how to break it for dramatic effect.

The thing about the 180-degree rule is that it's pretty simple in theory: draw an imaginary line down the center of the action and then only shoot from one side. Bam! Easy! However, in practice it's a little more difficult than that, because it's easy for things to get confusing once all of the cameras, tripods, lights, actors, and crew members are buzzing around on set.

To help maintain your spacial continuity (and personal sanity), mapping out each of your shots is a must. Whether you do that with detailed storyboards or basic sketches of shot setups is up to you, but having something clear and easy to follow to look at before you start shooting will not only help you get the right shot, but it'll help you notice any mistakes before you make them.      

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6 Comments

Thanks. It was helpful.
Lars, my favorite director to break the rules. :)

May 17, 2017 at 2:21AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
518

If you have one long continuous shot then it doesn't apply. I'm not sure whether the opening scene of Orson Welles' "A Touch Of Evil" breaks the rule but it could have done. Opening credits to "Roseanne" clearly does.

May 17, 2017 at 12:25PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
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June 5, 2017 at 8:55PM

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charu jain
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June 25, 2017 at 5:00PM

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August 19, 2017 at 1:40AM

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Nice video illustrating the fundamentals of the technique, but certainly not enough to learn how to use it creatively as a film director. Back in film school we spent 2 or 3 semesters learning this.
https://youtu.be/RV9Sa02H5c4
https://youtu.be/-V4huaoIDlo
https://youtu.be/RZblpLM-VYE

September 22, 2017 at 12:25PM, Edited September 22, 12:36PM

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