Video Editing

What is the rule of thirds? How do you use the rule of thirds?

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When you compare a photograph or video clicked by a professional photographer with one taken by a beginner, some basic factors such as composition of a shot can make a huge difference. You will find the professionally clicked picture or video more enticing as it follows the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds composition technique makes photography and film appear more engaging and balanced.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about the rule of thirds: 

  • What is the rule of thirds?

  • How important is the rule of thirds in photography?

  • What is the rule of thirds in film and video?

  • When to use the rule of thirds? (including examples)

  • Rule of thirds video overlay: an essential in video production

What is the rule of thirds?

When capturing a photograph or setting up a video frame the picture is divided evenly into thirds, horizontally and vertically. The subject is placed at the intersection of those lines or along one of those lines to create a balanced image. 

This type of composition guideline balances the subject along with the negative space is called the rule of thirds. 

The rule of thirds is often compared to the golden ratio that is also known as the Fibonacci spiral. This golden ratio is found in every natural object and can be used in eight different orientations four portrait orientation and four landscape orientation. 

How important is the rule of thirds in photography?

The rule of thirds is a rule of photography is not a hard and fast rule but more of a compositional guideline meant for creatives to capture an engaging and balanced photo or video.

Creativity is limitless and a photographer can go beyond following this rule. Although, one tends to only deviate from the rule of thirds when they have something clear in their mind that is artistic. Sometimes photographers deliberately break the rule of thirds to capture dramatic images that aren’t balanced but evoke more emotions. 

You have the freedom to click pictures as you like but the rule of thirds can be super handy for a beginner. The rule of thirds becomes a habit if practiced over and over.

What is the rule of thirds in film and video? 

Using the rule of thirds in pictures is easier but what about film and videos where the subject is not stationary. In film and video, rarely, the subjects do not move unless you’re capturing an establishment shot or other static shots like a credit roll. 

There are a lot of instances when a shot involves a lot of camera movements while the subjects are stationary or there are camera movements along with subject movements.  In these multiple scenarios, subjects tend to be around the intersecting lines or in line with the rule of thirds. 

This rule is applied in every genre of film and video as its one of the basic framing guidelines to improve shots for cinematographers. It is due to the rule of thirds, that film and video create such a dynamic framing. 

When to use the rule of thirds?

You can use the rule of thirds with a single subject. 

A good creative knows when to use and when to break the rule of thirds. Rule of thirds is applied when the photographer or the filmmaker wants to add depth and perception to a particular shot. This rule can also be applied to break the monotony from a frame or to avoid the subject from being cramped up. 

The horizontal leading lines work wonders if you’re clicking a landscape photograph and vertical lines work great if you’re capturing horizontal objects like trees. While clicking a portrait the intersecting points are the best to place the eye of the subject. 

Here are a few good rule of thirds examples:

In this picture, the crane is a vertical subject is aligned with the vertical leading lines. 

As is the Moon.

In this puppy's portrait photo, the intersecting lines are near the subject’s eye line. 

As is this exuberant girl!

Rule of thirds video overlay: perfect for beginner’s in video production 

The composition of a shot is one of the key elements that make film making interesting. 

The rule of thirds builds a strong foundation of a shot in a film. Beginners often struggling to abide by the rule of thirds composition guideline which is why they need to use video overlays that make it easier to compose a shot. 

Rule of thirds video overlay makes the gridlines visible on the viewfinder while capturing a shot. 

How to use the rule of thirds video overlays?

Video overlays act as a helping hand for you to create perfectly balanced shots. You can turn on video overlay in your camera by a quick setting, the process defers amongst different camera models. 

This can be enabled even on your smartphone’s camera by going to the camera settings and turning on grid lines. Alternatively, you can even fix your video composition in post-production using a video editor

When to use the rule of thirds video overlays?

Video overlays should be used when you are unsure of your composition skills or want a quick placement of a subject, create a dynamic frame or balance a shot. 

One can also use the leading lines of the video overlay to create depth of field by placing the subject in one of the leading lines and negative space in the other. However, you must avoid video overlay if you want to create a shallow depth of field. 

Whenever you want to divide the frame between multiple subjects interacting in a single frame, you can easily place the subjects at different leading lines to create an engaging shot. 

When not to use the rule of thirds video overlays? 

The rule of thirds video shouldn’t be used when you want to create symmetrical shots, or when it makes sense to put the subject at the center of the frame like in the film 2001 Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

Video overlays are the best to abide by the rule of thirds as we often tend to make mistakes with imaginary lines. If you can master composition using the rule of thirds with video overlay then with practice you wouldn’t need them. 

The rule of thirds composition has been used over ages and shall continue to remain one of the key pillars of photography and filmmaking. 

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