What’s the 180° Rule, Anyway?

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Welcome to The queue – Your daily distraction from curated video content from across the web. Today we’re watching a video essay on one of the cornerstones of cinematography: the 180 degree rule.

If you’re a movie buff, you’ve probably heard of the 180 degree rule. And if not, I can be sure that you’ve seen it in action. And even if you are familiar with that imaginary line in the proverbial sand, there is still a lot to learn. After all, the simplest techniques can prove extremely complex in the right hands. So that we don’t forget: rules should be broken.

The 180 degree rule has to do with where the camera is in relation to its subjects. It’s the idea that when you’re filming a sequence of shots with more than one character, there is an invisible straight line between them that the camera shouldn’t cross. By keeping the camera on a specific side of the line, you create a clear line of action between the characters and set the scene spatially.

In short, if you stick to the rule, the sequence will feel natural and the audience will understand where things are and where the characters are looking.

If a camera breaks the 180 degree rule and flips flops over the line, it can feel uncomfortable and suddenly turn around. If you break the 180 degree rule, this will be noticed. But when you’re trying to make a point, it makes sense to get an audience’s attention.

As the video article below explains, filmmakers break the rule for all sorts of reasons, such as: B. to question conventions or to signal a narrative change in power, perspective or understanding.

Ultimately, the 180 degree rule is a great example of how filmmaking puts a lot of effort into things that are meant to go unnoticed. And on the other hand (so to speak) it takes a lot of intent to justify the destruction of that illusion.

Clock “The 180 ° Rule (And How To Break It)“:

Who did that?

Jesse Tribble is an American video essayist and comics scholar who has been involved in all the films on YouTube for the past six years. You can subscribe to Tribble’s channel and view his back catalog here. And you can follow them here on Twitter.

More videos like this one

  • We already wrote about the 180 degree rule here at FSR. In fact, we highlighted another video article that describes how it works. Starting four years ago, here’s another breakdown of the film school’s golden rule.
  • Queue Favorite Studio Binder also has a wonderful essay on the 180 degree rule. They always do a good job breaking down techniques into clear, precise pieces. If that speaks to you, watch the video.
  • We recently released a breakdown of how the Dolly Zoom special effect works. The article doesn’t go into that, but many animators replicate dolly zooms in animated space. Tribble offers a really informative and fascinating look at how Disney animators made a 2-D dolly bigger The Lion King.
  • And here’s another example of Tribble’s work: an exploration of the balance between business and pleasure that does it James Bond Franchise tick.
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