June 19, 2018
Making the Fourth Wall
E P I S O D E 2 – Composition & Focus
Welcome to episode 2 of our new “Making The Fourth Wall” tutorial series. Each week, our video team will be helping you learn more about how to tell stories with video.
In this episode, our guide, George Georgeadis and the team dive into the world of composition and focus, two of the most important aspects of any good looking video. Touching on technical and creative aspects, we get into the techniques like “The Rule of Thirds”, “Leading Lines” and changing focus intentionally to help direct an audience and tell a compelling story.
Composition is how one positions different elements inside a frame — what to show, what not to show, how and why. Balance, framing, staging and depth are all key to how you present “space” in a scene. Some composition principles to take in:
- Intentionally direct the positioning of elements in your frame to enhance the meaning, emotion and outcome you want to achieve from a shot.
- Classic composition techniques such as “the rule of thirds”, “the golden ratio”, “triangular composition” are still useful and still found today in professional video and film.
- Try and tell an entire story with one single shot. Composition, first and foremost, should draw a viewer’s attention – what should the viewer be looking at and how can you make them look at it.
- Try the Rule of Thirds & Golden Ratio – An image can be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements can be placed along these lines or their intersections to create balance.
For a lot of people, the first lens they put on their camera is a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 to create depth of field. However, you don’t necessarily want to do that as it can cause some technical issues or make you hunt for focus a lot more, so instead follow these tips:
- Find focus before you start recording.
- Practice the move with your hands beforehand if you are planning on moving in and out of focus.
- It’s very popular to go for extremely shallow depth of field, but avoid it unless it’s necessary for your story, shot etc.
- Looking at Hollywood movies for inspiration, you’ll notice that the background often is not out of focus except in specific shot types like close-ups etc. So don’t be afraid to close down to a lower F stop.
- When you have two people in a shot, you can switch focus between them to aid the story.
- Use intentional focus change within a shot, don’t just play with the focus hunting for your subject.
- A good example for switching focus — when a character turns to look at something, try creating a sense of “being” that character by switching the focus to unveil what that character is looking at.
- Consider investing in a follow focus solution for your setup that can aid you achieving better focus control.
As a filmmaker, director, game designer and podcaster, George Georgeadis is always looking for opportunities to embrace his love of storytelling. In his free time, you’ll find him designing board games, lost in the world of VR, travelling with his husband, stargazing or enjoying his home theatre and movie memorabilia collection.