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Positioning of titles

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Alex Elkins
Positioning of titles
on Nov 20, 2012 at 1:40:13 pm

Hi all,

A few years ago I read in a post on here that it was 'the norm' to position titles slightly above centre. This is how I've worked ever since, and would agree that it is slightly more pleasing than titles that are placed smack bang in the middle of the screen. It occurred to me though, that I never really questioned why this was the case. I'd be curious to know if any of you, perhaps with a design background, might be able to shed some light on why we perceive off-centre titles to be more appealing than centred titles.

To clarify, I'm referring to the vertical positioning of titles. Screenshots below. Note the crosshairs indicating the absolute centre of the image.





Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
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Scott Sheriff
Re: Positioning of titles
on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:44:14 pm

Symmetry is just visually unappealing. Hence things like the rule of thirds, etc.

Scott Sheriff
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Alex Elkins
Re: Positioning of titles
on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:48:51 pm

I just had a very interesting call from Lawrence Eaton about this and wanted to share the information he gave me.

Lawrence's opinion is that this probably all comes from the newspaper industry, and the fact that newspapers always position headlines above the crease line to make sure people can see them when the paper is folded up on the stand.
It sounds like a plausible explanation as to why we perceive the slightly off-centre positioning as better - years of conditioning in how titles should look means that anything else just looks wrong, even though it's totally relative.

I suppose a similar analogy that applies to our industry is the film vs digital debate, where many of us just think 24p film feels 'better' simply because it's what we're used to.

Anyway, what do people think? Any other opinions as to why we position titles in the way we do?

Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
http://www.postblue.tv
Post Blue showreel
Latest work: Greyhounds in Motion at 500fps
My Vimeo Pro page


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Mark Suszko
Re: Positioning of titles
on Nov 20, 2012 at 9:01:54 pm

As a practical matter, leaving more space below helps with captions and subtitles.


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adam taylor
Re: Positioning of titles
on Nov 21, 2012 at 1:25:23 pm

my own feeling is that it has nothing at all to do with newspapers, and everything to do with how your eyes view the world. Compositional notions have been in place much longer than the printed dailies.

I may be talking nonsense here, but it has struck me that my peripheral vision feels as if it sees more in the lower half of my vision than the top half. Perhaps at an evolutionary level, the brain expects there to be more dangers and things to be aware of on the ground than in the air.

Overtime this has caused a subtle concentration of senses that register the lower vision, and may have even directed our subconscious to accept this slight off balance between ground and sky as how things should be? when your vision is seeing what is expected, there is less tension and conversely, when you put your graphics elsewhere, you increase the tension and cause the brain to notice something is awry.

I also feel that looking directly at something feels physically awkward. Its more comfortable when my head is ever so slightly tilted down, even if my eyes are tilted up to compensate - again increasing the amount of lower peripheral vision.

discuss...


adam

Adam Taylor
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Alex Elkins
Re: Positioning of titles
on Nov 21, 2012 at 1:44:35 pm

Interesting perspective Adam, thanks for sharing. I think I get what you're saying about peripheral vision favouring the lower part, although maybe that's simply because there's usually more to catch your eye lower down - terrain, furniture etc. I'm sure there's been a study somewhere that confirms this point one way or the other.

Your perspective also sits well alongside the 'it just looks better' point of view. Indeed it does look better, and perhaps this is because, as you say, we've probably evolved to expect the off-centre perspective. Our brain's own built-in rule of thirds, so to speak.

Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
http://www.postblue.tv
Post Blue showreel
Latest work: Greyhounds in Motion at 500fps
My Vimeo Pro page


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