Rule of thirds is probably the most pervasive framing technique in film and television. Why? Because it looks so darn good. But what happens when you defy what we’ve been told about aesthetically pleasing shots and put the subject in the centre of the frame?
Framing your subject in the centre of the frame can have a variety of meanings. You can use framing technique to make your shot look balance, symmetrical and boring. Alternatively, it can be used to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular subject.
Examples of centre framing
In Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), director George Miller and cinematographer John Seale use centre framing to compensate for the film’s fast cutting. “Compositionally, whatever was the centre point of that shot had to be in the centre of the frame,” said Seale. “In the faster cutting that he’s got, your eye won’t have to shift on an anamorphic frame, won’t have to shift to find the next subject when you’ve only got 1.8 seconds of time to do that.”
In the opening sequence of Garden State (2004), director Zach Braff uses centre framing to convey the dull existence of Andrew Largeman, a heavily medicated and depressed actor.
Director Wes Anderson, who made The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) adopted centre framing as part of his quirky, directorial style. Check out his films for wonderful examples of this framing technique.