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Should I behead people?

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Alan Howard
Should I behead people?
on Oct 23, 2013 at 1:18:21 pm

This keeps cropping up and is driving me nuts, but I have to ask is it just me???
Generally when I frame a shot I try to place the eyes on the 2/3rds line ... matching the eyeline between different sizes of shots becomes an instinct ... when I cut from a wideish shot to a closer shot several clients have complained that I've cut the top of the head off (often I'll letter box to narrower than 16:9 cos it looks great).
Choosing between that or cutting between shots of a similar size, or including the very top of their head, but bringing the eyes to the centre of the screen, it seems that "cropping the cranium" seems by far the best aesthetic option ....
I've been making TV for 20 years and it's online newbie clients that seem to have read somewhere that this is "to be avoided" ... I know it's all a matter of choice, but does anyone else feel this is bad camerawork ?? Did I skip that lesson? see still for example


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john sharaf
Re: Should I behead people?
on Oct 23, 2013 at 3:14:20 pm

HI Alan,

Giving the subject a "haircut" has always been my preference too for the closeup. It is a matter of taste, and obviously if the client wants "air" then give it to them; remember "the client's always right".

In the example you show of the bald gentlemen, the "haircut" is always more appropriate, as it minimizes the shiny dome which would otherwise draw attention from the expressive face, and furthermore makes the subject much more handsome (or beautiful in the case of a bald woman).

In terms of matching a wider and tighter shot, the convention is to have the eyes in the same spot on both frames, as presumably that is what the viewer is fixed on and will carry the cut most seamlessly. The reality in doing this is that (depending on how tight the closeup is) it often forces a "haircut" to do so.

Tell your complaining client(s) to look at high priced and high quality commercials, where the close ups are almost always with haircuts as opposed to the talking head local news shows, and they'll see that the haircut closeup is the best way to go.

JS



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Alan Howard
Re: Should I behead people?
on Oct 23, 2013 at 4:28:32 pm

Thanks John...
I needed a sane voice ........


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Jw van der Vlies
Re: Should I behead people?
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:13:19 pm

It depends on the situation and story you want to tell, but most of the time I always cut the hair off in the close up, emotion is in the face, not in the hair. (yes I'm bald myself :-)

What I personally find wrong in your frame is how you placed the guy, horizontally. I would place the guy more to the right of the frame, so there's more space on the left of the eyes than on the right. (suggestion, no bad intentions :-) )


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Alan Howard
Re: Should I behead people?
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:38:45 pm

agreed... in the frame I've shown he's leaning forward slightly .. I generally go by the rule of thirds with the eyes being top third either 1/3rd left of right with plenty of "looking room" ... glad to hear others choose to behead ......... I liked John's earlier comment about local news shows vs glossy high end ads, I'll be stealing that line I think ........


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