Get a better shot by turning something

Published on July 13, 2010

Straight versus Diagonals

Is your video too flat?

I see it all the time in online videos — a camera directed squarely toward a face that’s directed squarely toward the camera. Want to know how to make a more interesting image? Turn something. Turn the person, or turn the camera. Or if you want, do both.

This creates diagonal lines in your image. Diagonal lines help because they add energy and a sense of movement. The human eye enjoys diagonal lines more than flat ones.

How can you apply this when you’re shooting video?

If your subject is a building, move the camera to the side so you’re not shooting directly toward the flat side. You want to see at least two sides.

If you’re shooting video inside a room, move the camera so you’re NOT shooting directly toward a flat wall. A good tip is to shoot into corners. When you focus on this, it’s easy to capture the diagonal lines of the walls.

If you’re shooting video of a person’s face (say for a classic talking head shot), turn the person or the camera so you can see the side of their face a little. This will add more dimension and movement.

One thing to avoid — don’t turn a person’s face too far. Usually a profile isn’t the ideal thing to see. It’s too flat. Instead of being flat from the front, it’s flat from the side. Also, you can only see one eye. This seems a little strange to us. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can always see both of your subject’s eyes, even if the second one is only barely visible. Unless, of course, you’re intentionally trying to create a flat image.

Remember that one of our goals as shooters is to try to add dimension. We do it through lighting, sure, but we also do it by picking good camera angles.

The next time you’re shooting video, try turning something and see if that helps make a better image.

This article was last updated on October 17, 2010


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