Rule of thirds

When composing shots for film and television, the rule of thirds is an essential compositional technique. The rule of thirds states that if you divide a frame into thirds vertically and horizontally, the points of interest in that frame should be positioned on these lines or where these lines intersect. It’s aesthetically pleasing and will help you compose visually appealing images but, more importantly, it’s conventional.

Watch a scene from any film or television program and you will notice that the rule of thirds is used frequently.

In this example from LA Confidential (1997), director Curtis Hanson uses rule of thirds when framing up an over the shoulder shot.

As a filmmaker, it’s important to use this techniques frequently because audiences expect it. There are many situations where you might choose not to use the rule of thirds. Centring a character in the frame is sometimes desirable. Likewise putting them on the edge of the frame may help to further your story. Nevertheless, you’ll find that the rule of thirds is an essential technique in your compositional toolbox.