Research Blog – Composition in Moving Images

In this blog I will be discussing and presenting my research on composition, specifically on how it applies to planning and setting up film angles and shots.Composition is key to conveying and backing the mood and feeling of a certain scene, It can be as simple as a low angle that makes the audience feel inferior. The best camera work is when you can’t notice the camera movements and brings the audience in with the characters on screen.One note is that I will be not touching on different camera angles and types of shots as that deserves it’s own blog. All these rules and tips are for artists to create better art, but once they know them they can break them, such as my favorite film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which breaks nearly all the rules and is still a feat in cinematography.

I was heavily involved in the pre-production stage being in charge of creating the animatic and having a big input into the storyboards, this gave me great creative control over the shot choices, to do a better job I decided to research composition fundamentals and how the apply to film.


When deciding on your shot you should always consider what you main focus or subject is, this can be easily done by keeping the shot simple. You can do this in several way, including having a simple and contrasting background, why have a busy background if it adding nothing to the shot or story. Also cutting out of frame distracting elements or framing closer to the subject will vastly enhance the composition of the shot.


One of the most talked about things in composition is the rule of thirds, although there is other rules of composition, this is the most talked about and the easiest to get you head around. although this is different for moving cameras. when camera is still it is often a good idea to have the main subjects somewhere in the appropriate position in on of the intersecting thirds. In other cases the subject is moving, but the camera will recenter the subject on the lines or have close to it. This happens in nearly all film making, a great example is the trailer for the lord of the rings, with the rule of thirds guideline placed over it.

This happens in nearly all film making, an example is the trailer for the lord of the rings, with the rule of thirds guideline placed over it, considering this is an award winning film it can be safe to say they know what they are doing. A good example of this in my own work are all these shots are heavily reliant on the rule of thirds.


Lead room is the space you allow in front of a subject, this is important as it creates a more open composition and leads the audiences view toward where the subject is looking or moving toward. This is closely related to the rule of thirds when it come to deciding at which side of the screen the subject should be.This also makes action more dynamic as it is showing where everything moving toward not where it has been. Here are some examples of leading room in my animatic, this brings the audiences attention toward the door, where I want them to look toward as the other guy gets dragged away which is a surprise to both the audience and the characters.

Head room is a similar concept to lead room except vertically instead of horizontally, it is the space between the top of the subjects head and the top of the frame, although it has to be more balanced, no head room closes up the composition as well as to much head room. In wide shots to much headroom can also mean the audience will focus more on the background than on the subject.



To capture the attention of the viewer having some kind of natural frame within the frame can help with leading the eye. It also creates a sense of depth as it separates the foreground from the background. Although the correct frame should be chosen as if they are distracting the viewers instead of leading their eyes then it has created a bad image.

Another way of leading the audience is the use of leading lines, as they are very prominent in all kinds of environment they are a great way filling in the blank space that isn’t occupied by the subject of the shot, these lines also make everything way more dynamic. They are also a great way of creating depth. In my case I didn’t really use leading lines as effectively as I could of but the very first shot is the perfect example of framing.


All types of lines can be used and will create more interesting shots, diagonals are dynamic, horizontal lines are calm, lines can lead the eyes toward the subject, and the almighty s line is one of the best of ways of creating depth by merging the background into the foreground.



9 Composition Techniques That Will Make Your Images Eye-Catching on a Biological Level. (2015). No Film School. Retrieved 7 April 2016, from

Composition > Lead Room. (2000). Retrieved 7 April 2016, from

Lewis, B. (2014). 12 Days of Framing: Tips & Tricks for Great Composition | Premiere Clip: Made With Clip. Retrieved 7 April 2016, from

Static and Dynamic Composition, Lead Room, Rule of Thirds | Elements of Film Retrieved 7 April 2016, from



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